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Tractor takes home trophy
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Oranje Tractor Wines, one of the State’s smallest wineries and one of only a handful of organic producers, has taken home the Pam McGregor Trophy for the best aged Riesling at the 2008 Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia in the face of some stiff competition from the big players in town.
Trophies winners were announced at a gala dinner at the Hyatt in Perth on Wednesday night, and the Oranje Tractor 2003 Albany Riesling was among other gold-medal winning Great Southern Rieslings in contention for the prize.
Based on the outskirts of Albany on the south coast of WA, Oranje Tractor has been practicing organic viticulture since 2001, three years after the 8 acres of vines were planted. The vineyard recently gained “organic in conversion” certification from the auditing body the Biological Farmers of Australia.
“It is a real shot in the arm to win a trophy for the best aged Western Australian Riesling. It means that growing organically equals quality and that Albany’s reputation for growing high quality Riesling is growing (Kalgan River Wines, another small new producer, have also won awards for their Riesling in recent years) said Murray Gomm, co-proprietor of Oranje Tractor Wines.
“We grow our grapes organically which means giving the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fungicides the boot,” Murray said.
“This system we believe is better for farmers, the wine drinker and the planet, “ said Pam Lincoln, the half of the Oranje Tractor duo.
“We have put a labour-intensive canopy management system in place that allows the sun and wind to keep humidity levels down, which helps to prevent mildew and botrytis. It takes a lot of effort but the alternative is to dress up as the toxic avenger and spray an arsenal of chemicals,” said Murray.
“We use mineral fertilizers and seaweed based foliars rather than water soluble fertilizers to prevent nutrient run off that can foul up our precious water ways. We don’t kill the grass with herbicides under the vine rows, we simply let it grow. Looks a bit feral but the grapes don’t mind. As for pest control, our guinea fowl are dynamite when it comes to nailing grasshoppers and other pests that dare take a liking to our vines,” said Murray.
The trophy winning wine has been building up its medal tally each since its release in 2003, including 4 bronze medals, 1 silver and, finally the gold medal at this year’s Qantas WA Wine Show – the only wine show featuring 100% Western Australian wines.
Oranje Tractor Wines have recently upgraded their cellar door, and are offering seasonal platters served with a glass of their best – and that includes the 2003 Albany Riesling until the (limited) stocks last. Much of the produce on the platters is sourced from just a few metres from the door of the aptly named Enoteca 513R (after the model of the Fiat tractor from which the winery got its moniker). “The rest” says Pam “is mostly sourced from local suppliers within a 51.3km radius of our place and where possible it is also organic.”