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Temple Bruer sets carbon neutral goal

South Australia’s Temple Bruer is aiming to become the nation’s first organic and carbon neutral vineyard and winery. Announcing his plans at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide last Tuesday, proprietor David Bruer admitted he’d “virtually given up” on his Langhorne Creek-based operation becoming carbon neutral until he was recruited by the national Climate Champion program last year.

The program consists of a group of 34 Australian farmers who meet to discuss new technologies and practices for dealing with climate change, and advises researchers about what they need to do to better manage climate risk on their properties.

“I’d been wanting to be carbon neutral for quite a while but until I met the other farmers in the Climate Champions program I thought we were stuffed, that it had beaten us. The enthusiasm of the other Climate Champions convinced me that we weren’t stuffed but we would be if we didn’t get a move on,” Bruer said.

After employing Jake Potter as environmental officer, Temple Bruer’s first step on the road to becoming carbon neutral was to carry out a carbon audit. The assessment revealed that the glass bottles in which Temple Bruer’s wines are bottled contributed to around 40 per cent of its total carbon output, prompting the winery to start using lightweight bottles. Bruer said this had reduced the winery’s carbon output by 99 tonnes per year.

Temple Bruer has also stopped air-freighting wine which was also a major contributor to the winery’s carbon footprint.

“We mainly air-freight wine to distributors when they run out of stock but we’ve told them they’ve got to get themselves better organised. We might lose a few sales over it but so be it,” Bruer said.

Re-vegetating Temple Bruer’s Langhorne Creek property has also brought about significant savings in its carbon output. With another 5000 trees about to be planted, this will bring the total number of trees on the property to around 17,000. Plantings to date have saved the company just under 15t of CO2 a year.

Other important initiatives being undertaken by Temple Bruer include replacing its freon-based refrigeration system with an ammonia-based system, resulting in a saving of 36t of carbon a year, sharing its warehousing facilities with its distributor, Angove’s, and capturing CO2 from ferments for reuse in the winery.

Bruer said the winery has also been producing its own renewable energy using a mix of solar and biogas made from grape marc, seeds and stems produced at the winery.

“A major impediment to us making full use of our biogas is that we’re not allowed to put this green power into the grid, meaning we can only use it on our property for now,” he said. “I’d like to use it to run our irrigation system but to do that we have to get it from one transformer to another which is currently illegal. I’d like to see the law change in that respect.”

Bruer said he was a quarter to a third of the way to becoming to becoming carbon neutral.

“We don’t know how long it’s going to take. We know it won’t be in one or two years time but it will hopefully be in less than 10 years,” he said. Until then, the company would continue to buy carbon credits.