Organic and Biodynamic Wine
As of 2012, four of our six members are certified organic (Rosnay, Windowrie / Pig in the House, Gardners Ground and Wallington Wines), one makes wine from certified organic grapes but is not certified (Toms Waterhole), and one uses mainly organic practices but prefers to retain the option of fungicides if necessary in a wet season.
Of the certified organic producers, two are also leading producers of Preservative Free or No Added Preservative wines (Gardners Ground and Rosnay).
Our non-certified members call their approach “Minimal Intervention”, a philosophy of interfering in natural processes only when absolutely necessary, both in the vineyard and winery practices and inputs, in order to produce wines that a “true” to their varietal and regional style.
Therefore, though we are a very small wine region, we beleive we are Environmental Leaders in the Australian wine industry. Two thirds of the regions producers are certified organic, where the overall Australian proportion of certified organic producers to conventional producers is probably only about 2% at most. We know of no other wine region that yet comes close to two thirds organic!
Partnering, Learning and Sharing Together
To achieve this, in 2007 the Cowra Wine Region developed the Cowra Sustainable Wine Partnership, with a simple mission:
“To produce wine of regional character with the least environmental impact of any region in Australia”.
At the launch of the Partnership plan at the 2007 Cork ‘n’ Fork food and wine festival, Michael Carter, Director of Environmental Services with Cowra Shire Council welcomed the voluntary industry move towards greater sustainability of the local vineyards:
The Cowra Region Vineyard Association partnered with organisations with knowledge and experience in sustainable viticulture, Total Catchment Management, Environmental Management Systems, and biological agriculture in Australia. The partnership worked primarily on enabling members to share, build and apply their sustainable viticulture practices with benefits not only to their own business viability, but to the sustainability of the Cowra Region and Lachlan Catchment.
In the years since, our members have taken on new projects including education and training, research, the implementation of various sustainable practices and new technologies, and the certification of several members to nationally recognised organic standards. Our members share experiences regularly and hold meetings at different vineyards to pick up tips from eachother, and their systems are improving constantly.