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13/02/2009

Adelaide Hills Wine Region committed to environmental matters

Katherine Lindh

The Adelaide Hills Wine Region (AHWR) has established its position as a leader in the industry as the first wine region in South Australia to have a functioning and Government-endorsed regional environmental management system (EMS) available to its members. The AHWR announced to media and council members at a meeting held yesterday at its office that the program is now fully operational.

The EMS is a tool for managing the impact the activities of an organisation such as a winery, vineyard or cellar door, on the environment. It measures, plans and implements environment protection in a structured and easy-to-use manner.

The program aims to build awareness of environmental issues in the wine industry; build a better understanding of the environmental impacts of viticulture and winemaking practices; maximise the efficient use of resources such as water and energy; demonstrate that we are environmentally responsible corporate citizens; and protect and enhance the eco-system.

AHWR environment committee member, Janet Klein said the EMS is an essential program for long term environmental success as a region.

“The simplicity of the EMS means that we as human beings can improve and reduce the impact we have on our environment,” Klein said.

“It is gratifying and rewarding to reach this point of the pilot EMS project. It also gives confidence to our other members that they too can participate and easily improve their environmental practices.

“Over the next five years, I see the group of 12 pilot EMS project team members significantly increasing to a large proportion of members,” she said.

While other South Australian wine regions have an EMS in place, the AHWR have had the program implemented in the region for 18 months which has been officially endorsed by the Business Sustainability Alliance, a group of Government bodies including the Environment Protection Authority.

Rather than being imposed by Government authorities to improve environmental management practices, the AHWR have taken it upon themselves to implement this system in their region.

One grower who is already a member of the EMS, Larry Jacobs from Hahndorf Hill Winery, and who has been instrumental in putting in place the AHWR’s EMS program, said he would recommend the EMS to any grower wanting to measure their environmental practices.

“I completely endorse the EMS,” Jacobs said. “It has been a fabulous journey so far and it’s been a very gratifying learning process.”

“When we set up the EMS, it seemed like the appropriate tool to use. We wanted to acknowledge the fact that we in the Adelaide Hills live in a pristine, extremely environmentally sensitive region. Everyone who lives in the hills loves the region, and we are aware of that.

“In the long run, we are going to adapt our biodynamic program to function with the environment management system, which is more cost effective, politically correct and better for our business,” Jacobs said.

There will be two training session conducted this year in the region for growers to learn more about the EMS and how it works. Winetitles will inform readers of these sessions at a later date.

More on the EMS and the AHWR’s blueprint for growth with this project, will feature in the upcoming editions of the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker and Australian Viticulture.

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