World-wide comparison of sustainable viticulture practices to add further strength to McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Program
Australian wine-region: McLaren Vale
Believed to be one of the finest programs for sustainability in viticulture in the world, the launch of the McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (MVSWGA) program on the 10 April 2012 was a big step forward in a very important development for the McLaren Vale Wine Region.
You don’t need to travel far into McLaren Vale to learn that ‘service above self’, or better yet ‘region above self’, and a desire to provide a better future for the region and children in years to come resonates powerfully amongst the residents. And, it is a message that is particularly embedded amongst the McLaren Vale winegrowing community which plays a major role in the region’s landscape and economic prosperity.
Aptly named by the winegrowing community as ‘Generational Farming’ in its trial stage, the sustainability program for viticulture has been substantially updated and improved and launched under a new name McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. A shift in name that many believe to be a stronger reflection on the methodology and of the programs potential to be adopted by other wine regions in years to come. “MVSWGA is the first program of its kind in Australia and we expect other regions will follow our lead and adopt the program, tailoring it to their region,” MVGWTA Chair Peter Hayes says.
In 2010 while the program gained momentum, benefactors McLaren Vale Grape Wine& Tourism Association sought to employ a project officer to turn the program from a trial into an actuality. In 2011 PhD Candidate Irina Santiago from the University of Adelaide, a world leading university for Viticulture, joined the MVGWTA from Brazil. The three year PhD project aims to investigate the assessment and adoption of sustainability in vineyards, to ensure growers’ longevity in the wine business.
The new assessment method used in MVSWGA is the result of Irina’s research on assessment and adoption of sustainable practices in vineyards at the University of Adelaide and her role as MVGWTA Sustainability Coordinator.
Aimed at helping growers improve vineyard sustainability, MVSWGA is a recognised, world-class program which uses a combination of data reporting and self-assessment through a workbook of viticultural practices and third-party audits. The content is written by local growers and peer-reviewed by Australian-wide recognised experts.
“The program embraces the triple bottom line approach relating to economic, social and environmental considerations and is independent of farming systems, meaning conventional, organic and biodynamic grape growers alike can benefit from participating.”
Growers participating in MVSWGA will self-assess areas of their vineyard operation including Soil Health, Nutrition and Fertiliser Management; Pest and Disease Management; Biodiversity Management; Water Management; Waste Management; and Social Relations. Growers can then ascertain how well they are performing on farm, both in terms of absolute best practice as well as against their peer group. “This approach enables growers to assess their practices and fine-tune their business,” Mr Hayes says. “The MVSWGA is very much an improvement-driven program, not a report-driven one.”
Funded through a scholarship from the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) of Australia in conjunction with her research at the University of Adelaide, Irina Santiago will present her preliminary research findings at UC Davis: University of California on 6 June 2012.
Irina will be travelling throughout the USA for two weeks in late May 2012 as part of her research and will run a number of focus groups with grape growers in the US with the aims of collecting data on existing sustainability programs to compare worldwide.
Stacey Richardson, MVGWTA Marketing Officer, P – 08 8323 8999, E – firstname.lastname@example.org
Growers in the McLaren Vale wine region south of Adelaide have begun a push to make every producer in the region more sustainable They say its the first such project in Australia and will hopefully...
Amanda Rishworth speech to Parliament after launch of Generational Farming in 2009.