The Legend Family: On People, Places, and Purpose

We asked each member of the LEGEND portfolio about their unique approach to looking after the land and the people they work with.  It’s pretty moving stuff!

On Labor

Our small biodynamic vineyards, winery, mixed farm and market garden are family owned and run by Erinn and Janet Klein with a small, compassionate working team. We have 4 permanent workers employed all year around and hire locals and international backpackers during high peak seasons such as vintage and pruning.

Our team is remunerated at national award wages or higher, depending on their level of experience. We support our team to undergo further training and encourage further personal and professional development. 

We hold regular team meetings and encourage everyone to be open and express any feedback may it be positive or negative, so that we can keep improving our work processes and run a healthy and happy work environment. 

We prefer to avoid contract labor to ensure the outcomes are superior and to foster having a caring seasonal working team. Our staff turnover is very low, which we are proud of as we see our team a part of our extended family. We do not tolerate any discrimination or harassment of any kind in our working environment.

On Looking After the Farm and the Environment

We never really thought about being sustainable, as this is a natural lifestyle for us, to have a holistic farm approach, grow our own food, run livestock and give back to the land at least what we take from it. We grew up in families which care for the environment and naturally we are carrying this legacy on now with our own children and our business. 

Ngeringa is passionate about ecological, biodynamic wine growing and everything we do and have created, revolves around this belief…  small, closely planted vines, a simple, straw bale winery, a farm – entwined with the vineyard – of Scottish Highland cows, sheep and chickens, an abundant paddock of veggies supplying local markets, restaurants and private veg boxes direct to customer, a like-minded small working team committed to sustainable food and wine production, and extensive revegetation plantings to regenerate an Australian native ecosystem for regional biodiversity conservation and sustainable farming. 

While we are constantly learning how to better farm sustainably and produce fine wines in a warming climate, Ngeringa stands as an exemplar of sustainability in our local, national and international food and wine community. We are regularly invited to host sustainable wine, food or biodiversity conservation workshops and field-days and have been awarded with Brand SA’s Sustainable Food and Wine Producer of the Year award in three consecutive years and have been inducted in to the BrandSA Hall of Fame. 

Working with the cycles and rhythms of nature, rebuilding our natural native Australian environment and allowing the (healthy) soil, the site and the season to be expressed in each wine and in our food, the result is wine and food that is bursting with vitality, depth of flavour and delicacy – wines and food that express the care with which they were made and reflecting, with authenticity and integrity, their place of origin from Ngeringa.

-Overall Philosophy

We respect the life force in nature, and through the vines, the grapes we harvest and the people we work with, we endeavour to capture vitality and integrity in our wines that reflect their place and season.

-Erinn & Janet Klein

The Approach

Okay. Going to sound like a couple of old hippies here: Do it with love & primarily for love – do crazy things, carefully.

-Frieda Henskens and David Rankin

On Labor

We now have our first direct employee – a casual cellar-hand (our 17 year-old son). He has a contract & formal position description in line with Fair Work Australia guidelines & is paid in accordance to industry award which means he gets a 25% loading for the intermittent nature of his workload, superannuation & is covered by workplace OH&S and workplace insurance. (Yes the paperwork etc took longer to fill out & cost more than he’s actually worked so far but it’s all there & done!)

We believe in the dignity of labor. Everyone has a right to be treated with respect at work, have meaningful employment & a safe workplace from which they return home healthy & unharmed. Also strongly believe in the right of all employees to organize (I’ve been a union member all my working life, still am).  Where our growers & other partners employ other people whether seasonal/short-term/ casual/ permanent, full, part-time, we expect as a minimum that the relevant Australian awards & OHS systems are adhered to.

Our personal definition of profit entails making a positive contribution to gross domestic happiness.

On Farming and the Environment

Honestly think that it’s way past time to be talking about sustainability – that boat has well and truly sailed. We desperately need to be engaged in restorative processes & systems…

Okay, well from my soap-box: we are a tiny negociant producer so it would be very easy to plead that there’s not much we can do. While this has some truth it doesn’t let us off doing what we can – that understanding the vital need to engage in regenerative forms of viticulture & sustainable wine making practices means we have a responsibility to keep ourselves informed, look carefully at who we partner with & how they operate & engage/encourage/support them move to regenerative practices in their vineyards/ more sustainable practices in the winery. We’re part of the local Regenerative Agriculture Network (RANT), ASVO sustainability group & subscribe to the Regenerative Viticulture Foundation. The growers we source fruit from all participate in the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program, which is a start/ bare minimum – next week I am going to visit a potential new supplier who is committed to regenerative agriculture. 

The winery where we make our wines is solar-powered, grape marc is composted & returned to their vineyards etc but CO2 is just the craziest thing about winemaking – it’s allowed to blow-off at the fermentation stage then we pump the stuff from an external source back over our wines later. During my winemaking degree, I had to design a winery, so I looked at what CO2 capture & reuse systems were available – the technology is pretty simple but it was all purely for huge scale wineries… so we are playing around with our own home-made CO2 capture systems & yes we do need to explore the whole off-sets issue more. We don’t use animal derived products, fining is mostly just a little bit of bentonite, retain yeast lees as a nutrient source for the following vintage, I prefer to tirage with unfermented, concentrated grape must rather than cane-sugar (have to do the math on freezing juice vs storing wine with RS chilled vs cane-sugar).

On Labor

Murdoch Hill is a small family owned and operated wine business and we strive to give fair and safe work environment for all our staff. Australia’s Fair Work Commission has strict requirements in relation to employee conditions, including both minimum pay rates, working conditions and safety. Here at Murdoch Hill we strive to meet or exceed the minimum awards standards and provide our team with a fun, engaging environment, something that is always exemplified during the harvest season. Where good food and wine is shared amongst all to appreciate the joys of the industry. 

The business has six regular employees across the winery, vineyard, cellar door and administration. Cellar door staff in particular are required to be paid significant penalty rates under the industry awards on weekends and public holidays. Per hour this can be to the equivalent value of 10 x Big Mac’s.  

During vintage the workforce increases with an extra three staff on hand to support the additional demands of this busy time of year. In the vineyard, we use contract workers supplied by specialist pruning and picking contractors. We have strict processes in place to ensure contractors are meeting their obligations in relation to minimum wage rates, working conditions and safety.

On Looking After the Land

Our Vineyards are farmed with sensitive sustainable farming at our core. With the belief that healthy, happy plants produce the best quality wine. No synthetic inputs to control pests, weeds or disease, utilising mechanical under vine weeding to control weeds and organic sprays to control disease. We work to constantly improve our vineyard to grow the healthiest fruit possible. This philosophy means in the winery the grapes produce quality wine without the need for additions or manipulation.

 

The Pursuit

Our vision is to produce authentic, sustainable wines that show the great character and finesse of the Adelaide Hills.

- Michael Downer

The Why

My goal is to create world class examples of the many varieties I grow without compromise. I am continually exploring new varieties and their suitability to our region and site, trying to predict the climate and the wine styles of the future; adapting both viticultural and winemaking techniques on our journey

-Mark Walpole

On Labor

Besides myself, we have one full-time employee who looks after most of the vine spraying and supervision of casual workers. Sourcing of labour in our region has been difficult as long as I can remember. Despite a national unemployment rate of about 5.5% a recent study suggests in our shire it is as low as 2% (which pretty much covers those people between jobs.). 

That means we have to rely exclusively on backpackers and labour hire contractors. Other than the vintage period we have been able to rely almost exclusively on French and Italian backpackers for all of our pruning, vine training, foliage work, and shoot and cluster thinning. COVID put an end to that. We now have to rely almost entirely on labour hire. I have been working with one contractor for the over 20 years. Recent national laws introduced ensures all labour hire contractors are licenced and all employees are paid according to the minimum wage. We pay the contractor $32.50/hr, meaning that the employee receives at least $24/hr plus entitlements. (That’s $24/hr more than me!)

On the Farm

I operate on what I call a low-input sustainable system. It is neither organic nor biodynamic, but both environmentally and economically sustainable.  

We don’t till the soil for weed control due to the detrimental effects to soil structure and vine roots, choosing to either do nothing (if the season permits); or use a non-residual knockdown to reduce competition for water and nutrients.  

We avoid the use of tractors where possible to reduce fossil fuel use and soil compaction; preferring to use a quad bike. We use no synthetic insecticides and try and minimise the use of sulphur due to its detrimental impact on predatory mites (and humans working in the field). We use a selection of prophylactic fungicides to reduce the number of passes through the vineyard; and to have the least impact on beneficial insects. (We harvest black truffles every year, so clearly the fungicides are non-residual and not killing beneficial organisms! And when digging the holes, the soil is full of worms consuming all the plant roots and dead organic matter. All growth stages from very young to large, suggesting no toxic impact of the chemical on the invertebrates.) 

Our vineyard is located in a part of the region which has low disease pressure, thanks to constant wind, helping to dry canopies and reduce vine vigour. 

I think it is disappointing that we have got to the point where the consumer reads ‘chemical’ and automatically registers ‘bad’, in the environmental context. Why are the (toxic) natural elements sulphur and copper allowed to be used in organic production systems while ‘synthetic’ chemicals which have no environmental impact are bad? Arsenic, lead and mercury are also naturally occurring elements but would be frowned upon if used? My father used to use lead arsenate to kill caterpillars on the vines when we were kids. Highly effective! Organic!  

If some chemical herbicides and fungicides was de-registered in Australia, and farmers had to return to cultivation for weed control, not only would there be a large reduction in food production, the environmental degradation would be enormous. 

There has to be a balance. And that’s why I choose to farm how I do. If I was to use the organic chemicals ‘copper’ and ‘sulphur’ solely, there would indeed be residues of them in the ground. I believe what I do leaves the smallest environmental footprint that I can economically afford to leave.

On Labor

We undertake most of the work ourselves but when required we support fair labour practices by employing reputable labour hire contract companies. We pay an hourly rate 20% above the award rate which ensures the worker gets the award rate and is covered by Worksafe insurance. The contract company also receives enough to pay superannuation (mandatory retirement fund) and payroll tax whilst making a small margin. An 8 hr shift includes a 15 min paid break and a half hour unpaid lunch which is legally required to be taken.

On Farming

We work with grape growers who follow organic principles or at the least conscientious practices and try to encourage them to move in this direction. We believe in zero herbicide and zero pesticide use. Land stewardship is a privilege and we support growers who take on this responsibility. 

In the winery, dry waste is swept before hosing down to reduce water usage. Grape marc is composted. Considering the low-tech nature of our wines, minimal power is used whilst producing them. 

In October 2021 we planted our first vines and begun the development of a certified organic permaculture farm. Water conservation practices will be employed throughout the entire site and in the winery via rainwater tanks, mulching, the consideration of natural elevation and reed beds to recycle and reuse waste water. All organic matter will be composted onsite. Solar energy will be used. Our ultimate goal is to be self sustaining.

Wine is political. Choose wisely.

-Niki Nikolovski

The Mission

To live one’s truth…I have always felt I was given the gift of another sense growing up, an awareness and deeper understanding that was special to me. I have forged my life path with the feeling that if I surrendered myself wholly to the cause, it would consume me and I will become it. That’s really how I got into wine, I didn’t just want to make it, I wanted to be changed by the process forever. Wine allows me to express my core self, it’s the medium I use to live my truth and I love every minute of it.

I feel that if all of us had this sense of connection it would help our mental health and the way we approach our lives and others in the world.

-Sierra Reed

On Labor

With fruit picking I pay 25 dollars plus GST per head per hour and pay in full within a 3 day window. It’s a mostly all woman crew ran by a mother of 4 children who talks to them on video through the whole pick. We recently were on a site with no toilet so I had a porter potty brought in on-site which would never be the case in France or US. 

My interns choose to come for the education and experience and get a room, food and daily living expenses. It’s probably worth just under a grand a week in value. I take them to all the places they want to eat and I open all the wines they never can get access too, I also cook all the meals and take care of them like I take care of Reed (my daughter).

On Environmental Practices

I continue to find ways to create impact while not owning my own vineyard, and the recent beginning of a short term lease on a 50yr old vineyard opens up a world of possibility, and responsibility. 

Plastic is something we have to use and I have been looking into better bio products but they just don’t work and I end up using more. I re-used all my wrappings this year to cover the ferments and they are still going strong, I usually use 3 rolls of industrial film and this year it has only been 1. I tend to work with growers that have a sustainable or organic practice. No trash bags in the winery this year and when I’m draining my water press, I use the water coming out to clean. Coffee for the winery is in a cardboard box and it’s lasts about 3 weeks so no  cups! 

The really cool thing I’m proud of is the decorations of cut resin in the garden and in the concrete came from the local surfboard shop who had it sitting in a tip because it’s the waste after shaping, I fished it out and gave it a new life. I also drive all my skins to a friend’s farm and put it in a compost heap or have made grappa with it in the past. I even use my lees and tartrates as skin care products instead of putting them in the drain like everyone else. 

At home we have compost and a garden that we eat from seasonally. We have had solar for 4 years now and put electricity back into the grid. 

With a local seamstress, I am up cycling my old wardrobe and making new garments with old amazing pieces I can’t fit into anymore. I have made 10 items and 1 for Reed (my daughter). I am a no on fast fashion lady and never buy it! 

I want to do my best to preserve the earth and the creatures in it for the future of humanity and I try and take steps closer to that everyday whether it be at work or at home. Awareness is the first step.

 

On Labor

Rasa is a two-person operation, Andy & Emma. We are a negociant at this early stage of our business and whilst we harbor hopes and desires to own and operate our own vineyards, we’re not there yet. In saying that however, the growers we purchase fruit from operate in a manner that we hope to achieve in the future. Small, family oriented and doing the majority of the work themselves. We assist with harvest and some pruning and where seasonal workers are required, they are typically the same from previous years. It’s a nice work environment with everyone chipping in.

 

On Farming

Sustainability is really important for us. We have a singular focus to obtain fruit that’s been grown in the most loving way possible. This involves minimal copper and sulphur sprays (made easier by the Barossan climate for sure). Mulching is great for this as evaporation and soil surface temperatures are reduced. No chemical fertilisers or systemic herbicides/fungicides. Compost particularly from winery marc is great at improving soil health. We try to work with varieties that can handle a warmer climate and are older established sites reducing largely the need for huge amounts of irrigation (supplemental in really tough years for survival rather than crop load). All of this leads to better balance that removes the need for any additions in the winery. We are also happy to pay more per tonne of fruit to our growers that are motivated to do all of the above. Sustainability is a relationship with my growers that ensures they’re happy and willing to go the extra step rather than being fearful of getting dropped or told to rip a vineyard out to replant with the next fad.

Our overall philosophy is to make wines that we like to drink and to have fun whilst doing so. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s cool. Wine is a wonderful thing that leads you to forming great relationships with likeminded people and that’s a good thing.

-Andy Cummins & Emma Welling

The Path

We (Chalmers) are a viticulture family. We’ve spent decades discovering the perfect varieties to express our Victorian vineyard sites. This means the wines we grow and make speak both of varietal character and sense of place. Honest, modern, and hopefully timeless Australian wines.

-Kim Chalmers

On Labor

Our vineyards are family owned and run with all immediate family members working in the business daily. We have a close knit, small team of about 12 permanent staff across our two vineyards, nursery and winery and in the peak seasons we have a team of up to 50 which is always fantastically diverse in age, gender and cultural background. We pay at or above The Australian Wine Industry Award 2020 which ensures a high quality of living for our employees.  Permanent staff have 4 weeks paid holidays, paid personal/sick leave and we are a family friendly workplace as we promote good mental health and work life balance. Health care in Australia is either free or affordable and the occupational health and safety of our staff is very important to us. Our permanent team are like extended family and many of our seasonal workers come back year after year because they love the positive, innovative and warm environment that comes with the type of inclusive and respectful, family operated business we choose to be at Chalmers.  

On Farming

We take sustainability very seriously. Reducing our impact on the environment while growing and making the best wine we can is the core of our philosophy.  Firstly the varieties we grow have been carefully selected over years of research and trials for their drought and heat tolerance, allowing us to reduce irrigation requirements dramatically.  We also hone in on varieties that are hardy, with thick skins to reduce copper and sulphur sprays – no synthetic or systemic fungicides are used. The vineyards are managed with only organic nutrition (cow manure, compost, fish emulsion, seaweed extract) and the occasional trace element top up – no chemical fertilisers.  We do manage weeds using a combination of mulch, manual weeding and non-residual, knock-down herbicide, however we only work with products that cause no ill affect to the microflora on the vine or the biodiversity of the environment or the soils.  Our approach allows us to achieve optimum soil health, vine balance and excellent fruit quality while maintaining a happy ecosystem in and around the vineyard.  In the winery we don’t add anything we don’t need to. Ferments are spontaneous with wild yeast, malolactic is natural and all our wines are vegan. Our winery water use is very low, we compost our grape Marc for use in the vineyard and we have 17.5 kilowatts of solar PV on the roof which powers the winery by day. 

On Labor

Both William Downie and Patrick Sullivan wines, and the vineyards that are farmed jointly, engage few full-time employees and are in majority part ran by just the two of us. For workers we do employ, we pay above the Victorian award rate and ensure safe and healthy working conditions.

On Farming and Looking After the Land

You’re never going to put the land back to what it was. Once you’ve cleared those trees, it’s negative. But we try to make it as close to the original environment as you can. You have to look back 200 years and you have to look forward 200 years. How do you want it to end up? 

If you don’t have a long-term vision, you’re not going to stick to the financial sustainability. You have to have an understanding of the business. What’s that saying? You can’t be green if you’re always in the red? There’s obviously an interaction between financial sustainability and environmental sustainability. We live on a farm for that reason: because we want to see a change in the way agricultural land is managed in Australia. And the only way we can make a difference in that respect is if we are able to stick around.

All vineyards are ACO (Australian Certified Organic) biodynamic and organic in conversion. Guendulain Farm, Bill’s estate vineyard, is ACO certified organic since July 2021. We have planted a good few hectares of native revegetation, with a view of improving biodiversity and soil health in the non-agricultural parts of our properties (and making sure there are non-agricultural part of our properties).

 We’ve had instances where we’ve had to spray phosphoric acid – every other aspect of the viticultural management in those sites is completely organic. We’re of the opinion that there are non-organic compounds – like phosphoric acid – that are far less toxic to the soil than copper, which is compliant for organic certification. What we want to do is regenerate as much as we can and leave it better than when we found it – much better. The question is what have we got to do to get it there? We don’t chase certification, we chase that outcome.

Their Philosophy

Don’t go broke or insane…No, in all seriousness, we really deeply believe that Australian wine should be considered the equal of any wine from anywhere. And we’re just trying to figure out how to do that.

It is our goal to have a sustainable business that lets us do what we love. We enjoy being challenged, which drives us to create new Australian benchmarks for Bordeaux varieties, in particular Merlot.

-Colleen Miller & Mike Kloak

On Labor

We purchased the land to establish our vineyard in 2000. Many of our pruning and hand work crew have worked with us since the days of planting those baby vines – over twenty years. Some of the seasonal work done on our vineyard is done by contractors, like harvesting or pruning, rather than employees and they tend to be local family businesses, often employing more than one generation within the family, much like the tradition of great family-owned restaurants we saw in the USA. All contractors are certified through a rigorous reporting standard set by the South Australian Fair Labor Board, and ensure that the minimum award of $26/hr is met while ensuring OSH standards.

On Caring for the Land

Our vineyard is the closest, as the crow flies, to the World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves, which were given this recognition due to the fossil finds of megafauna like Thylacoleo and an endangered microbat population. These tiny furry bats feed on insects, not fruit, and are the size of a thumb. They stream out at dusk to feast, often attracted to spirals of insects in the warm air at sunset. For the first few years, we assumed the things swooping over our heads at dusk were large moths, until one landed on Mike’s shoulder and we realized they were actually microbats. 

We also have a massive Wedge Tailed Eagle nest in an old tree in the middle of our Merlot parcel. I know! They are a magnificent bird with a wingspan up to 9 foot, 4 – larger than a Bald Eagle. We have echidna and a number of friendly blue tongued lizards that eat vineyard pests like snails and ants. There is a National Park wetlands in our region that attracts birds in the winter and spring, who visit our land to eat insects in winter and spring. 

This is all to say – it is important to us that we encourage beneficial organisms and a richly diverse ecosystem, rather than spray insecticides or other systemics. We focus a lot on beneficial insects. Of all the chemicals, insecticides are the worst to people, the natural balance in the vineyard, as well as affecting the birds and bats. Becoming aware that these things were there before us and how they interact, has made us more conscious and careful about how we manage the vineyard and our farm. 

We use organic inputs whenever possible to encourage healthy biodiversity in the vineyards; we only use chemical inputs when it’s absolutely necessary and we know it will not affect the long-term safety of the land and the animals who call it home. We started as growers and still sell a majority of our fruit every year, which ends up in export to the EU, USA, China, and other countries around the world. There are very specific protocols about chemical residue in these grapes. You have to really be on your game to produce A grade fruit in a maritime climate without any chemical residue in those grapes for acceptance into every export market.

On Labor

Stargazer currently employs two full timers; myself and my vineyard manager/assistant winemaker Bryn Williams. Bryn is paid a salary based on the SAWIA annual salary survey for what others in similar positions such as his get paid. He also has a job description and an employment contract. We conduct reviews every six months and salary reviews annually, focusing on achievements and goals, and he is encouraged to attend tastings and workshops/training in his areas of interest (beekeeping for example). He has been with me now for over two years and is a huge asset. 

Vanessa Bresnehan has started with me just before vintage on a casual basis helping me out with bookkeeping, logistics and supply, and more and more mailing list/wine club maintenance. Vanessa and her husband James have a vineyard in Campania and two kids so Vanessa has the flexibility to work for me between school drop offs and her other commitments. Perfect for me and for her! Vanessa is paid according to the Clerks award and I’m currently working on a job description for her.  

All other labour requirements (when we need a hand in the vineyard) are filled by local contractors. I predominantly use Mark Hoey of Specialised Vineyard Services, who supplies pickers and vineyard hands when required. Mark pays his employees according to the Wine Industry Award and like all contractors, is required to sign a contractor safety declaration. This confirms that contractors, sub-contractors and any employees under their control shall follow safe work practices and comply with all environmental/legal/regulatory requirements while working at Stargazer.

Looking After the Land

Whilst not organic, we have transitioned to an organic fungicide program in the 2020/2021 season and are currently exploring options for mechanical under vine weed control so we can also transition away from traditional herbicide programs whilst at the same time doing the most sustainable thing for our soils (the combination of a steep rocky site with young vines means that undervine cultivation is not really an option).

 To assist with weed control, we have used a small flock of sheep in the vineyard in winter for the last five years. The sheep are part of our broader approach to sustainability (which I think is a too-easy throw away word in a lot of respects) which focusses more on bio-diversity. To that end, over the last couple of years we have:

  • started an re-vegetation project which last year saw us plant over 700 bee and bird friendly natives (we hope to continue planting each spring);
  • captured a bee swarm last spring who are now safely housed in their own hive, hopefully we’ll be able to do this again next summer
  • relocated 200 olive trees to an area which is unsuitable for vineyard
  • planted more than a dozen nut and mulberry trees as well as a feijoa hedge as a wind/shelterbelt and we are gradually filling this area out with bee-friendly perennials
  • trialled seeding with buckwheat in areas alongside the rows to encourage beneficials as we have permanent swards inter-row rather than annual covercrops 

From a winery perspective, I reviewed all packaging last year to ensure that all suppliers are members of the Australian Packaging Covenant. I’ve also switched to lighter weight bottles and we’re now using a recycled kraft tape for the cartons.

Philosophy

My overall goal with Stargazer is to ‘Leave it better than you found it’ which applies to the vineyard, the health and welfare of the people I work alongside and the industry in general.

-Samantha Connew

Our philosophy is to have fun while making wine & at the same time respect the people we work & deal with.  We have fun because we involve family, friends, colleagues, growers – involve them into our winemaking process, infecting them with enthusiasm, make them a part of the wine & our journey.  We often make quirky wines, experiment, do things differently, follow our own rhythm, get inspired by others, constantly listening & learning, never sit still, eat, drink & love.  

-Glen Roberts, Andrew Scott, and Robert Richter

and Henri

On Labor

Only 3 hours drive south-west of the city of Brisbane & our hometown, we remain close to family & friends.  They frequently visit, help in the winery & vineyard & are a great part of our success!  Our village of Ballandean is also close knit & supportive, a stereotypical country community.  Sometimes I (Glen) feel like I’m living an episode of Schitt$ Creek! 

We hire a full-time cellar hand, Kyle.  He receives wages above the Australian Wine Industry Award 2021, 4 weeks paid annual holiday, paid sick leave and has been given pay rises at every review, rewarding him for his excellent work!  We encourage him to improve his skills & this year he is making wine for himself at the winery & we are helping him establish his own wine brand & business. 

During busy working times, either during the grape growing season, picking, & pruning or bottling in the winery, we often hire casual workers who are also paid above industry standards.  They range from all ages & we pride ourselves as equal opportunity employers.

On Farming and the Environment

With 1km of water frontage & one of the most secure water resources in the region, we knew we could make a sustainable business here. Grapes don’t need much water to grow & thrive, so our irrigation needs make minimal impact on our lake.  We established the 3Ha vineyards from scratch, planting such varieties as Shiraz, Merlot, Tempranillo, Marsanne, Verdelho & Nebbiolo.  About 70% of the property is still wild eucalyptus forest & our lake attracts many wild native animals.  

Once our vineyards were established, we grow them under Lute Raisonné principles: minimal application of agrochemicals where they are only used when necessary & not as a matter of routine.  We follow many organic principles, frequently applying compost to the vines & recycling waste from our winemaking practices. 

Sustainability is everything when running a business & is at the core of our principles.  Mostly following organic principles results in minimal impact over the wild flora & fauna surrounding the vineyards.  We maintain a wild grass cover crop between the vine rows to encourage a balance of insects & animals.  Minimal drip irrigation of the vines helps conserve water. Most heavy energy using activities such as bottling and pumping water for irrigation, are done during the day when we are harvesting our own solar energy. 

Any suitable solid waste is composted on site & later applied to the vineyard.  Winery organic liquid waste is drained into settling ponds, growing native reeds which help minimise, filter & purify the effluent, following permaculture principles.   

We are a hungry winery & we buy grapes from select growers.  Relationships are important to us & we have excellent rapport with our growers.  Instead of buying grapes by weight, we ask for an allocation of grapes from a particular location in a grower’s vineyard, paying a premium for the privilege.  We ask our growers to follow similar principles to ours for our allocated vineyard site so we can guarantee all our grapes are grown with best practices.