Friday 6 December 2019

Australian wine industry finally united on leaving the world a better place

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Sustainability in the Australian wine industry has taken a postive turn, with the announcement of a single national sustainability program – Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA).

The new program is based on the internationally acclaimed Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW) system which had its genesis in McLaren Vale.

SWA provides a unified sustainability framework for all Australian grapegrowers and winemakers to demonstrate their sustainability credentials, benchmark performance and identify opportunities for improvements.

“The announcement of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia is a significant milestone for MVGWTA, McLaren Vale and a real community effort,” says Jennifer Lynch, general manager of McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association.

“I don’t think I could impress strongly enough that this is bigger than our MVGWTA team (including past and current team and Board members) – there are hundreds of individuals in and outside of McLaren Vale that have taken the time to add light and shade to this piece of work. One brush stroke at a time, over many, many years – and there will be many to follow still.

“The roll call is lengthy and impressive, and has extended beyond the boundaries of McLaren Vale for some years now.

“It’s my belief (by observation and direct involvement over the past four years) that what has and continues to motivate each individual and each organisation to support sustainability’s evolution beyond a handful of regions is knowing that one day, we would collectively reach this point, and that all of those individuals could take a moment and think, ‘yep, I helped that too.’”

Dr Irina Santiago-Brown, a key contributor to the SAW program, said on social media yesterday, “In 2011, I started my PhD at the University of Adelaide, only a year and a half after my decision to move to Australia.

“The dream, that I have pursued since my teenage years, was to make a change that helped the world become a better place.Today that dream became real and I celebrate the adoption of a single sustainability program for winegrowers in Australia, based on the Sustainable Australia Winegrowing program I developed for the McLaren Vale wine region as part of my research.

“I hope the principles I developed are followed and the program helps growers to continuously improve their practices and grape quality and leave their part of the world a better place in turn.”

Following a global review of the sustainability landscape, the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association (MVGWTA), with support from Wine Australia and Australian Grape and Wine, worked together to develop this single Australian sustainability program, building on the strengths of the existing Entwine Australia and Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW) programs.

A smooth transition to the program will be managed by the AWRI, with support from MVGWTA for SAW users. Members of Entwine and SAW will find the transition straightforward, as SWA draws heavily on current metrics and resources in a recognisable format.

SWA will formally commence on 1 July 2019. As such, 2018-19 represents the final year of operation of Entwine and SAW as standalone programs, with all users transitioning to Sustainable Winegrowing Australia on 1 July.

SWA will be managed day to day by the AWRI, overseen by a steering committee comprising representatives of Australian Grape & Wine, Wine Australia and the AWRI, and advised by an industry advisory group made up of program users, regional representatives and other key stakeholders.

Frequently asked questions regarding the program changes can be accessed on the AWRI website here. For more information about Sustainable Winegrowing Australia contact AWRI senior viticulturist Dr Mardi Longbottom on 08 8 313 6600 or mardi.longbottom@awri.com.au.

• To read more about Dr Santiago-Brown’s involvement in sustainability click here.

• To read more about Sustainable Australia Winegrowing click here.

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