Popularity of grassroots grant sees 128% increase year on year in sustainable grape and wine certification in McLaren Vale

Image: Rachel Williams, Grower Engagement Officer MVGWTA, Janet Klein, Board Member Landscapes SA Hills and Fleurieu, Richard Leask, Leask Agri, and Jennifer Lynch, General Manager MVGWTA. Credit: MVGWTA

Over the past six months, a massive 850 hectares of additional vineyard area in McLaren Vale has been independently audited and certified in Australia’s national sustainability program for growers and producers, Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA).

As a successful Landscapes SA Hills and Fleurieu Grassroots Grant program recipient, funding received by the McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association (MVGWTA) enabled the delivery of subsidised training and certification of McLaren Vale winegrape growers to the national sustainability program.

The grant project initially aimed to certify 10 vineyards sites across McLaren Vale, but such was the interest in sustainability certification – the project was oversubscribed within days of being announced locally.

Additional investments by the association and Landscapes SA Hills and Fleurieu enabled an extra 20 vineyard sites to be included in the project, totalling 30 certified vineyards sites across the region.

Growers involved in the project were recognised for their sustainability commitments and certification achievements at the recent Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program opening for 2021.

In a gathering held under COVID-Safe protocols at Kay Brothers Wines, Janet Klein, board member of Landscapes SA Hills and Fleurieu, presented growers with their certificates and vineyard signs.

“Sustainable landscapes and businesses are fundamental to the success of our regions, and I congratulate the MVGWTA for providing opportunities for their growers and producers that support pathways to sustainable production,” she said.

The SWA program continues to strengthen year on year with membership and certification increasing nationally.

McLaren Vale’s sustainability leadership and performance is evidenced via increasing membership to the program (up 128% in 2021), and, via 60% of the region’s total area under vine now accounted for within the Sustainable Winegrowing Program, compared to 26% nationally.

Yangarra Vineyard Estate and Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyards of Jackson Family Wines were among those who achieved SWA certification through McLaren Vale’s Grassroots Grant project.

Already certified in organic and biodynamic vineyard and winery production, Yangarra Wines and Hickinbotham Vineyards found the key principles and goals of the program beneficial to their business.

Sam Rogers, from Yangarra Vineyard Estates noted, “The SWA certification process has been a fantastic opportunity to reflect and externally assess our current viticultural and site practices. Working through SWA standards gives an objective assessment of current practices and aids in setting out future goals in which we are accountable to uphold in the future”.

MVGWTA general manager Jennifer Lynch commented, “Sustainability is not linear, nor is there an end-point – it is a continuous journey towards improving economic, social and environmental harmony”.

“As a region, we are committed to supporting our businesses and region to thrive sustainably, now and into the future.”


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