Australia’s biggest organic wine producer, Angove Family Winemakers, is preparing to go 100% organic.
John Angove, from Angove Family Winemakers, tells the drinks business the winery already has 270 certified organic acres and another 19-20 acres set to follow next year.
“Ultimately we’re looking at the option of the entire 400 acre vineyard being organic. We need to see what the demand will be but we’re seeing a lot of interest and other big companies doing likewise.”
The decision to become organic came about 10 years ago, and Angove turned to one of Australia’s foremost organic experts, David Brewer, to help with the conversion process.
“He [Brewer] said that in the Riverland you are in the best spot in the world to make organic wines as the disease risk is very low and we have few problems with mildew,” said Angove.
“The vine doesn’t automatically respond to organic processes,” explained Angove, “and we saw a significant drop in yields over the first two years but then we saw it come back.”
Angove says going organic has been good for the grapes, vines and soil. It produces small bunches with smaller berries, with thicker skins and more naturally resistant vines, while the soil structure is much better knitted together.
In addition, the family notes: “For us, organic wine and organic viticulture is also about community. We live where we grow our grapes and we want to live in a healthy, clean environment, one that has biodiversity and is sustainable.”
One downside is that weed control means it’s 20% more expensive to run the vineyard. But Angove says it’s worth it because the Australian organic wine sector was showing “most significant new activity of recent years.”