Our vineyards are all organic, having been converted in 2003. In the vineyard we use competitive biology, aiming to be completely chemical free in dry years and using half the organic standard of copper and sulphur in wet years. The goal is to lift vine health through soil health and complexity, and combat disease through an active and competitive leaf surface biology, essentially crowding out disease causing organisms.
When growing the grapes no herbicides, insecticides and most fungicides are prohibited. Chemicals used must be naturally occurring and not poisonous. This allows some sprays to be used that are not harmful, and not taken up by plant tissue. In addition, anything you add to the land must also be organic, particularly fertilizer. This is why we have a compost business to make our own fertilizer and any other mineral elements are in a mined not refined format.
You can only make organic wine from organic grapes.
To make better wine, David soon realised he needed the help of biodynamic practices. There are two key components to this:
- Typically, you influence the soil microbial activity so that soil matter is alive with a balance of microbes that mineralise and feed plants. On one hand this reduces the necessity of adding quick hits of fertilizers which although immediately effective can end up unbalancing a biological process by overdosing.
- The second part respects the form of agriculture that predates conventional farming where cosmos relationships determined the best times to manage a farm. Many industries subconsciously still practice this in varied forms, in the same way fishing is aided by tides and luna changes, so it is with Biodynamics in the vineyard. The astrological calendar becomes an aid to when the best time to apply changes to agriculture.
Our Tinja property at Mudgee is certified biodynamic and also we are commencing the same program for Rylstone. Nullo Mountain is a year or two away as logistically to gain the most from this program we need to observe and develop experience. This was in the case of the organic certification at Tinja which was commenced in 2003. Now the wines are better, and we all are looking to get better.
When you next visit the winery start a conversation or have a look at what we are doing by taking a walk through the vineyard. It’s only 30 meters from the winery.
Of course, this also extends to the winemaking, where the same thing goes: cleaning agents like chlorinated compounds are out, no organic wine can be mixed with non-organic wine.
Organic winemaking and organic grape growing involves auditing by a registered authority, in our case ACO (Australian Certified Organics), to determine that all stages of the process of grape growing and winemaking comply with a strict regime. To you it means the bud logo with a producer number attached, your guarantee that compliance is correct.