Soil stewards: getting the dirt on viticulture at a grassroots level





Soil stewards: getting the dirt on viticulture at a grassroots level


A select group of representatives from the Limestone Coast wine industry are about to explore 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 will embark on the first of three regional study tours this weekend 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 will be looking to unearth issues in their own ‘backyard’ before heading further afield.


“Starting in the Coorong, we will be 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 will then travel to Margaret River and Perth in Western Australia, Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Victoria before the end of July to learn about innovative soil management practices with the potential to benefit the Limestone Coast.


“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.”


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.”


Melbourne-based advisor in environmental sustainability, Russell Fisher, has been appointed as 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 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.


For further comment, please contact Sue Bell on Mobile 0417 080 945.

2014 Soil Steward profiles overleaf:


2014 LCGWC Soil Stewards:


Anna Hooper – Winemaker, Cape Jaffa Wines

Anna Hooper and her husband, Derek, produced the Limestone Coast’s first certified biodynamic wine range ‘La Lune’. Anna’s interest in soils stems from an ongoing passion for environmental sustainability, her biodynamic viticultural experiences and a winemaking philosophy that wine quality starts in the vineyard. Anna is on the South East Natural Resource Management Board and the South East Water Conservation and Drainage Board. She has also been involved in a number of voluntary roles relating to conservation in the local community. She is president of the Mount Benson Vignerons Association and sits on the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council and the Wine Industry National Environment Committee. Anna holds a bachelor degree in Agricultural Science (oenology) and a Masters in Agribusiness.


Luke Tocaciu – Winemaker/Director, Patrick of Coonawarra

After graduating from the University of Adelaide with a degree in Oenology and completing vintages in the Clare Valley, the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra and the USA’s Sonoma Valley, Luke Tocaciu returned home to continue the legacy and tradition of the family business, Patrick of Coonawarra.
Luke has quickly made his mark on the company, securing several trophies, medals and praise from consumers. He is among an emerging generation of ‘young gun’ winemakers, demonstrating an ability to adapt to new age trends and consumer demand.


Nick Baverstock – Vineyard Manager, Penfolds Robe Vineyards

Nick Baverstock graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Viticulture) from Adelaide University in 1999 and has been involved in the wine industry for 15 years, working in various viticultural roles. He currently manages a 250ha vineyard at Robe, which is responsible for providing exceptionally high quality grapes for premium Penfolds brands including St Henri and Bin 389. A keen conservationist, Nick has volunteered for many organisations and has been involved in developing viticultural knowledge at a regional level via several industry technical committees in both McLaren Vale and the Limestone Coast.


Kim Longbottom– Proprietor, Henry’s Drive Vignerons

In 1992, Kim Longbottom and her late husband, Mark, carefully selected sections of their Padthaway properties for vine planting, and the couple launched their first wines under the Henry’s Drive banner following a “dream vintage” in 1998. Today, the Henry’s Drive brand has grown to produce 100,000 cases with 10 different labels. Kim divides her time between the Padthaway Cellar Door and vineyards, her Adelaide home and works out of the company’s Kent Town office, where she oversees the day-to-day running of the business. The different varieties and styles of wine she discovers around Australia and the world continue to fascinate Kim, and the people she meets on her travels to different markets inspire her to continue building the Henry’s Drive name.