Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Being Biodynamic

d’Arenberg winery has just announced the release of two new wines in the Artisans family, The Danger Mouse Nero d’Avola 2018, and The Hunjee Heartstring Montepulciano 2018. Both wines are vegan friendly and made with biodynamically grown grapes from family owned vineyards, a product of d’Arenberg’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability.

These wines represent an ongoing program of alternate grape variety plantings in the McLaren Vale wine region. “These varieties are suited to warmer climate conditions, ripening significantly later than some of the other traditional grape varieties” says Chief Winemaker Chester Osborn. “With the changing climate, we are working with varieties that may one day replace the traditional ones planted in the region like Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. They are more resistant to drought and heat stress. Montepulciano and Mencia in particular are my two favourite contenders to replace Shiraz in the future.”

On the Amazing Sites Flight, gain an understanding of the d'Arenberg's winemaking philosophy - the underlying geology, altitude, proximity to the ocean, age of the vines and the techniques used by the grape-grower all influence the flavours in the grapes and the resulting wines. This single vineyard flight will showcase a selection of 6 wines that capture the essence of a unique patch of dirt and speak volumes of the site and vintage, celebrating the importance of place and the art of winemaking. 

This move towards sustainable wine production practices has been steadily gaining momentum in McLaren Vale.  For over a decade Wirra Wirra Wines owned vineyards, Scrubby Rise, Nocowie, Chook Block, ‘73 Block, Woodhenge and House Block have been managed biodynamically.  On these certified organic and biodynamic vineyards, no systemic chemicals or pesticides are used in cultivation of the vines – only permitted organic and biodynamic inputs and preparations. These efforts were recognised in 2013 when Wirra Wirra received biodynamic certification from the NASAA group.  Formed in 1986, NASAA, or the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia, supports the education of industry and consumers on organic, biodynamic and sustainable agricultural practices. NASAA's Standard covers the organic supply chain – from input manufacturers to producers, processors to wholesale and retail operations - ensuring organic integrity 'from paddock to plate'.  On the Discover Wirra Wirra experience, learn the secrets behind Wirra Wirra’s biodynamic vineyards with a hosted tour of the Scrubby Rise and Chook Block vineyards, taste biodynamic wines on the Wirra Wirra jetty, learn barrel ageing via a tour of the original ironstone cellars, and taste five of Wirra Wirra’s best wines complemented with a regional chocolate platter.

So what does Biodynamic mean? Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. It has much in common with other organic approaches – emphasising the use of manures and composts and excluding the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants - however methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system as well as the use of an astrological sowing and planting calendar in some cases. 

Gemtree Wines began introducing Biodynamic principles in 2007 but took a gradual and pragmatic approach to the transition.  Now, after several years of biodynamic practices, they are seeing a noticeable difference in the health of the vineyard and quality of fruit. You can learn about Gemtree's biodynamic farming regime on the biodynamic feature wall in the Sustainable Cellar Door. This large mural shows a year-long timeline of vine growth, indicating key times for biodynamic practices (such as burying a cow horn filled with manure to create compost) and which animals are allowed in the vineyard at certain times to aid with natural processes to ultimately 'grow a great wine'.  To understand in greater detail, Gemtree's Being Biodynamic experience provides an informal and enjoyable introduction to biodynamic grape growing and winemaking during a relaxing guided tour of Gemtree’s Biodynamic Hut and vineyards.