A Murray Valley winery has released one of Australia’s first 100% carbon-neutral wines

Professional experience: Zach Forbes and his grandfather Gordon, whose parents settled the family property. Zach is the fifth generation on the property.

This article first appeared in the March/April 2009 issue of Australian Viticulture

Zilzie certified 100% carbon-neutral

By Terry Gange

A Murray Valley winery has released one of Australia's first 100% carbon-neutral wines.

The Zilzie Wines 2008 Bulloak Range has been certified by the Carbon Reduction Institute of Australia after an 18-month audit and certification process.

Zilzie's managing director Andrew Forbes said the process concentrated on the entire lifecycle of the wine.
'It's from the grape to the grave - vineyard through to recycling,' Forbes said. 'It's inclusive, but not limited to, freight, packaging, assets, travel, electricity, fuel usage, general expenses and waste and wastewater. We've pursued all possible efficiencies that will reduce our energy consumption but no matter how efficient we are, some greenhouse gas emissions are unavoidable,' he said.

Offsetting is also playing a crucial role in Zilzie's efforts to reduce its impact on climate change, reducing the environmental impact of Bulloak wines to zero.

'We contribute to environmental projects designed to reduce or capture carbon emissions. This means that CO2 levels equal to the unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions from producing our wines are removed from the atmosphere,' Forbes said.

The certification is in accordance with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for the Wine Industry (developed by Provisor Pty Ltd in 2008).

'The average household produces 240,000 black balloons of greenhouse gas per annum,' Forbes said. One balloon can hold about 50g of greenhouse gas.

'We estimate that each standard 750ml bottle of wine consumed will contribute approximately 40 black balloons of CO2 gases into the environment. As we have already offset the CO2 emissions from the Bulloak range, a bottle of Bulloak will contribute zero black balloons to the household carbon footprint,' Forbes said.

Forbes said the achievement was another step forward in the company's commitment to environmental priorities.
'Zilzie is located just a stone's throw from the mighty Murray River, and water conservation has been a constant priority,' he said. 'The entire Zilzie team has been focused on our goals in this area over several years. The result has been a reduction in water usage since 2005 of 35% per litre of wine produced. In 2007 we were down to 2.2L of water per litre of wine produced, which we thought was a terrific benchmark to achieve,' he said.

The company has developed an all-encompassing Environmental Management Strategy, focused on minimising impact on climate change through reducing water consumption, waste management, packaging reduction and re-vegetation of the Bulloak reserve.

The Bulloak range is available in Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Merlot, Shiraz, and from this year, Moscato, Rosé and Pinot Grigio. Bulloak's 2008 Chardonnay has earned four trophies and two gold medals and the 2007 Bulloak Shiraz is also a gold medal winner.

The Zilzie winery was established near Mildura in 1999 and the first Bulloak range was released the following year.
The Bulloak range is named after the northern most stand of threatened Bulloak (also known as Buloke) trees situated on the Forbes property overlooking the vineyard and winery.

The family donated this section of land back to the Department of Sustainability and Environment to protect the Bulloak trees, and the natural biodiversity of the region, for future generations.

About the Forbes family

The Forbes family has farmed at Karadoc, in north-west Victoria, since Donald and Ethel Forbes were granted 'Selection 23' at Karadoc beside the Murray River in the early 1900s.

Originally dryland farmers, it was not until 1971 that the Forbes family established the first vineyards at Zilzie Estate. Broad expanses of vines in rich red-loam soil now slope towards the Murray, pierced in places by outcrops of limestone. The winery is near the banks of the Murray River and now has more than 736ha under vine.

Zilzie fruit was supplied to some of Australia's best known wine brands for 34 years before the family took the next step and built their own winery in 1999. The Zilzie wine brand was released in 2001.

Recent expansions in the winery have seen Zilzie move into the top 10 Australian wine producers by volume, with a crush capacity of 35,000t. The fruit is primarily from the Forbes' own vineyards, however, they also source additional fruit from selected growers within the Murray Darling region.

'Zilzie', originates from the Forbes' Scottish heritage, and, translating to 'first home' was the name given to the family's first property in Australia. Zilzie is a private company wholly owned by the Forbes family.

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