From climate-proofing their grapes and vine stocks, to recycling packaging, winemakers have been at the forefront of sustainable cultivation for some time. Here in Great Western, we’ve been putting sustainability initiatives in place for many years and we’re not resting on our laurels – we’re committed to taking the best sustainable practices into the future. Here’s an update of what we’ve done so far to meet the challenge.
Best’s Wines has always been conservative in our energy consumption. This is achieved not only through how our energy is produced, but also by continually monitoring and changing our work practices as energy consumers.
The roof of Best’s Great Western winery is fitted with a 390-panel, 95kWh system. Whatever electricity isn’t used in the winery is fed back into the grid. Our most recently acquired vineyard, Sugarloaf Creek, boasts a 330-panel 99kWh system and, once again, the power we don’t use is fed back into the grid.
At Best’s cellar door, we do all we can to limit our energy consumption. Our fireplace is lit through the winter months to reduce our reliance on reverse-cycle air-conditioning. In summer, energy efficiency is more of a challenge – especially on 45°C days. The solar panel system, however, goes a long way to mitigating that load.
Water conservation and mulching
The Best’s Wines team constantly monitors its water usage across all areas of the winegrowing and winemaking process. In the vineyards, we’ve moved away from buying in mulch, which not only requires energy to produce, but also to transport. Instead, we’re leaving the grass to grow under the vines. This has much the same effect, cooling the roots and retaining moisture in the ground.
At Sugarloaf Creek, we use 100% recycled water which is supplied from Ararat through a special recycled pipeline in partnership with GWM Water. Our Concongella Estate vineyards in Great Western, and Salvation Hills vineyard in Rhymney rely on dam water, which is only supplemented in the most severe conditions.
While we don’t as yet reuse our waste water, we’re looking at installing a grey-water system in the future.
To help prevent erosion at Best’s Sugarloaf Creek vineyard site, we’ve planted 4500 trees and installed 6 kilometres of fencing.
In terms of biodiversity, we have healthy populations of ‘good bugs’ including lacewings, ladybird beetles and orb-weaver spiders, as well as not-so-welcome shield bugs!
Best’s is taking a lead in the industry to increase sustainable production and transportation through our recycling processes. We have recently invested in a Recycle Pack machine to recycle our cardboard boxes (and there are a lot of them) into packaging filler.
The great benefit of this system is that we can produce our own packaging from cardboard we’re using already. We may well be able to supply other businesses with it, too. Plus, we’re now able to stop using plastic bubble wrap for single-bottle transportation.
As well, we now recycle all soft plastics at the winery, including pallet wrap, and are currently investigating a new biodegradable pallet wrap alternative.
We are constantly working on new innovations to ensure we continue to care for our environment and operate a sustainable business as part of the broader community. When we have news to share about upcoming projects and new sustainability initiatives we’ll update this blog.
There are some challenges in viticulture that are hard to plan for, and the devastating black frost of 4 November 2017 was one that took its toll. Despite having frost fans set up in the vineyard, the sudden onslaught of a cold burst of air that immediately settled on Best’s Concongella vineyard wiped out a large percentage of our fruit. The resulting 2018 harvest was decimated. If you’ve not heard the story, we wrote about the impact of the frost in a previous post back in early December 2017.