1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?

I have fond memories as a child in winter school holidays jumping ahead in the vine rows and creating “fairy spots” for my parents by pruning a panel or two for them.  I officially started in the wine industry in the early 90’s at Padthaway, moved on to Mt Benson and landed here in Coonawarra in 2004.  I have known from early on that I wanted to be involved in the grape growing/wine industry and I just love it!

2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?

Having managed organic and bio dynamic vineyards in the past I have long had a clear understanding of the importance of balance in an eco-system.  As soon as I heard about the EcoVineyards project I wanted to be involved. I have known Mary for a few years now and have the upmost respect for her and her research. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to be part of this project.

3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?

Our aim is both to increase our area of insectary plantings whilst creating a suitable habitat for our resident ducks, bats, and frogs. Building on our knowledge and understanding of not only what flora and fauna we already have but to see how our actions influence our numbers of flora and fauna species moving forward.

I am also really keen to see how the other EcoGrowers are finding their projects, especially the under-vine plantings as that is something that really interests me.

Maybe we can help create a bit of awareness of the benefits that come from re-creating habitats for our beneficials, that would be awesome.

4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?

Yes, we have planted hundreds of local native trees, shrubs, and grasses over the past 10 years. We are also fortunate to have 11 Ha of established native vegetation that is home to wallabies, kangaroos, bats, and numerous breeds of birds.
There is always careful consideration with regards to what chemicals we use and timing of applications to try to minimize any impact on beneficials with softer options always preferred.

5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?

It all comes down to balance starting with our soils, building healthy soils is absolutely the foundation for healthy plants. Having said that healthy plants together with a healthy ecosystem dramatically reduce the need for harsh chemicals and where we can, become not as reliant on them.

6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new ‘normal’ for grape growers on their properties?

With sustainability being at the forefront of people’s minds and an ever-increasing consumer demand, I believe we will all need to have a better understanding of what we can implement no matter how large or small toward a more holistic approach of our management techniques including IPM to reduce pesticide use and minimizing the footprint we leave behind.