Sustainable wine producer earns national accreditation

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Sustainable wine producer earns national accreditation

Local vineyard Caroline Hills is now accredited under the Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standard of Sustainable Practice in Viticulture.

Through this Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program, Caroline Hills was audited on its practices in management and environmental aspects such as training and development; biosecurity; land, soil and nutrient management; pest and disease management; water and biodiversity.

The family-owned vineyard is 15km south-east of Mount Gambier, specialising in small-batch wines made with minimal intervention in the winery, including using open fermentation, hand plunging and pumping, gentle oak maturation and minimal filtration.

Its vineyards are some of the oldest in the Mount Gambier region and owners Terry and Helen Strickland grow the grapes, make the wine and enjoy the yearly process of working with the climate and soil of the region.

Vineyard manager Mr Strickland said he saw this certification as an important demonstration of their commitment to sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

“The audit process was both challenging and useful, as it prompted us to reflect on what we are doing and improve some aspects of our documentation and procedures,” he said.

“Caroline Hills has a long history of regenerative action as we have transformed bare paddocks to vineyards, gardens and native vegetation corridors and wind breaks.

“The latest of these plantings is a Fibonacci spiral of around 800 sheoak trees.

The gardens and native vegetation plantings support habitat which attracts diverse insect and bird life that benefits the vineyards.”

Mr Strickland said some of the initiatives put in place that assisted in gaining certification included solar panels to provide power for irrigation of the vineyards, composted mulch applied under the vine rows to increase nutrition and decrease evaporation and a team of ducks to provide pest management as they patrol the vineyards and seek out snails.

There are also biosecurity measures such as sign in and boot and equipment wash before entering the vineyards, plus extensive plantings of native vegetation to attract beneficial insects in the vineyard.

Regeneration manager Mrs Strickland said building a sustainable and biodiverse environment was complex and required a commitment to continuous improvement.

“We are always looking at evolving technology and knowledge so that we make steady progress to increase regeneration at Caroline Hills,” she said.

Caroline Hills Cellar Door is open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and by appointment.

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