Wine Program Lets McLaren Vale to Play at Top End of Town

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One of the exciting things in McLaren Vale is SAW (Sustainable Australia Winegrowing).

We are getting good adoption among growers. The big guys (Warren Randall, Treasury and Accolade) are yet to get on board, but I think it will be only a matter of time. The program is encouraging best practice.

I was talking to Brad Hickey of Brash Higgins who, through SAW, started to analyse his practices. He didn’t see too big a change to step up a notch and seek organic certification, which he is now working on.

I had a meeting with Australian Certified Organic, and McLaren Vale has the most certified growers of any region in Australia. Grenache seems to be building so much recognition. It is only eight percent of the region’s reds, but is one of the darlings. This will only strengthen.

Consumers are coming to the Vale on Grenache discovery tours; who would have thought! I would love to see more people embracing this and replacing the lesser-performing varieties sooner than later, as Grenache takes time to settle to produce top standard wine.

We planted 30 acres of bush vines in 2008, and they are just starting to settle in, but I have another five or 10 years before they start hitting their straps. The influx of Mediterranean varieties is another great coup for the region; we are producing interesting, delicious wines.

However, there needs to be caution for winemakers to keep focused and not end up with a fruit salad brand that has no rhyme nor reason, and end up trying to be everything to everyone!

The great regions of the world have focus, and producers should be aware of not taking ‘interesting’ to ‘confusing’.

Producers like Bekkers and our own Hickinbotham show that McLaren Vale can play at the top end of town.

I would love producers to see that, with quality, volume doesn’t need to be a measure of success. There is still room for producers to work at this, and it will only continue to elevate the region further.”

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