Complete recycling of all winery wastewater. Through a program started in 2001 and in collaboration with the South Australian EPA we have designed, developed and executed a winery wastewater treatment process which sees every drop of wastewater recycled for use in the vineyard. The process is a simple combination of sedimentation, aeration and biological filtration which strips out in excess of 80% of the nutrient load of the wastewater and in doing so largely removes the odour and water quality issues normally associated with winery wastewater. Regular water quality mentoring is carried out via an independent laboratory to ensure the system performance is up to the standards expected and that no environmental issues arise as a result of reusing the treated water in the vineyard.
Complete recycling of all winery solid waste products consisting of marc (skins and seeds left over after the grapes have been fermented and pressed), bunch stalks (derived from the rachis of grapes which are delivered to the winery) and various solid from the winemaking process. All these solid materials are stockpiled, composted on site and mixed with organic composted cow manure to form an organic soil ameliorant which is added back into the vineyard as a part of our ongoing soil organics program. It takes three years and regular turning of the stockpiles to satisfactorily compost the winery wastes to a point where the finished material can be easily and accurately spread in the vineyard with our own 5 tonne belt spreading machine. The compost is spread at a rate of approximately 7.5t/ha of vineyard on a three year rotation basis. Regular analytical monitoring of the compost itself and of the vineyard soil is carried out to determine the nutritional and soil structural affects of the program.
Recycling of all our consumable materials used in the winery, warehouse and administration office is carried out on a regular basis. Cardboard, paper and plastics are recycled through a specific skip-bin set up at the back of the winery. All empty glass wine bottles and other recyclable bottles and containers are also separated and recycled through the normal channels. Used batteries and chemical drums are also recycled through approved channels.
The vineyard and surrounding property are managed in a sustainable way such that inputs of chemicals are kept to a minimum and wherever possible we prefer to use organic or elemental fungicides and biological forms of weed control (eg straw mulch under vine). It is not always possible however, and we retain a pragmatic approach to our pest and disease control program which gives us the flexibility and security required in terms of insuring our production base.
Many hundreds of native and indigenous trees and shrubs have been planted around the property over the 27 years we have been custodians of this land and we still have many more to plant in the future. Water conservation and environmental sustainability is a priority component of our overall management philosophy and we hope that we will ultimately leave this property in better shape than whence we found it. We have founded and are still actively involved with a local Natural Resources Management Group (the Hill River NRM Group Inc) which is active in the local vicinity and aspires to protect and enhance the natural ecological biodiversity of this small but significant part of the Clare Valley.