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Getting the dirt on viticulture at a grassroots level

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Source: Limestone Coast Grape and Vine Council Inc.

A select group of representatives from the Limestone Coast wine industry are exploring exciting new depths within their chosen field as part of a long-term sustainability vision. Four successful applicants of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council’s (LCGWC) inaugural Soil Stewardship program have embarked on a series of regional study tours examining soil-related issues within the industry. LCGWC chairman, Brendan Provis, says the soil stewards come from different disciplines and regions across the zone, and spent the weekend unearthing issues in their own ‘backyard’ before heading further afield.

“They started off in the Coorong, mapping the good and the bad of the Limestone Coast and devising a plan to prioritise and address soil management across the region as a whole,” he says.

Participants are now in Western Australia exploring Margaret River and Perth in order to learn about innovative soil management practices with the potential to benefit the Limestone Coast. They are due to return home at the end of this week, with trips to Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Victoria also planned before the end of July.

“Our ultimate aim is to devise a long-term soil management strategy for this entire region,” says Mr Provis. “We are hoping to build on recent projects such as the ‘Unearthing Viticulture’ project and devise creative local solutions that value the world famous resources we work with, while also assisting in the development of highly skilled grape and wine industry leaders.”

Melbourne-based advisor in environmental sustainability, Russell Fisher, has been appointed program facilitator. “What’s really interesting for me is the way the program brings together a multiplicity of perspectives on soil health and the skills and tools to influence and build greater resilience in the Limestone Coast wine industry,” he says.

The project is being co-ordinated by Ben Harris, chair of the LCGWC Technical Committee and vineyard manager of Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate, Bellwether winemaker Sue Bell, and Padthaway grape grower Dr Mardi Longbottom, a senior viticulturist at the Australian Wine Research Institute and recipient of the 2012 Limestone Coast Sustainability Leaders Award.

“The Limestone Coast has a wealth of talent and resources in its people and this program will assist them to take their skills to the next level, building on their capacity and expertise in order to support adaptation and sustainability in the Limestone Coast,” says Dr Longbottom. “It is a fantastic opportunity for the leaders of the region to experience innovation in practice in other regions and industries.”

The Soil Stewardship program is supported by funding from the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation’s regional program, the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council and the Australian Wine Research Institute.


2014 LCGWC Soil Stewards:

Anna Hooper – Winemaker, Cape Jaffa Wines
Luke Tocaciu – Winemaker/Director, Patrick of Coonawarra
Nick Baverstock – Vineyard Manager, Penfolds Robe Vineyards
Kim Longbottom– Proprietor, Henry’s Drive Vignerons

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