McLaren Vale Wine Growers hone in on sustainability

With GPS tracking precision

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Harvest in Jim Zerella's vineyard in the McLaren Vale

Harvest in Jim Zerella's vineyard in the McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale wine - geology formation

Last week the McLaren Vale Grape, Wine & Tourism Association (MVGWTA) launched the online system for McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing at a presentation delivered by McLaren Vale Sustainability Officer Irina Santiago.

Already at the forefront of viticultural sustainability, the shift to an online system from a previous paper recording system, integrates sophisticated GPS location by block and data entry providing detailed reporting for single block vineyards.

It’s yet another milestone for the McLaren Vale region since MVSWGA’s launch in April 2012, with the 2012 results providing the benchmark for the online system making it one of the most complete and comprehensive reporting system to growers among existing sustainability programs world-wide.

Aimed at helping growers improve vineyard sustainability, MVSWGA which uses a combination of data reporting and self-assessment of viticultural practices and third-party audits. The content is written by local growers and peer-reviewed by Australian-wide experts following current findings of Irina Santiago’s ongoing PhD research at the University of Adelaide. 

Growers participating in MVSWGA self-assess areas of their vineyard operation including Soil Health, Nutrition and Fertiliser Management; Pest and Disease Management; Biodiversity Management; Water Management; Waste Management; and Social Relations. Growers can then ascertain how well they are performing on farm, both in terms of absolute best practice as well as against their peer group.

'The online system has been developed to provide growers with comprehensive detailed and real time reports to compare their own results across years, compare their results against a peer average, track their improvements and gain access to self-education on specific topics’ Irina Santiago said. 

‘The data collected through GPS monitoring and grower input will provide the region with a wealth of opportunities as we now have the building blocks to integrate the work the Association and other industry bodies such as AWRI, GWRDC, CSIRO, NRM have already developed such as the McLaren Vale Geology Map & Districts Map, McLaren Vale Biodiversity Plan, soil profiling and rainfall mapping.’

‘The McLaren Vale Wine Region is arguably the greatest wine region in the world in regards to data mapping, the online system will allow the region to bring the regions and industries knowledge assets into one place to make the most use for research projects, with a goal of being one of the the most studied wine region in the world in effort to increase every possible return and benefit to our McLaren Vale wine growers’

The integration will also provide extensive vineyard information that correlates directly to each of the single block vineyards producing McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Single Vineyard Shiraz wines , a project for wine lovers providing the opportunity to explore the influence of vineyard site and terroir through some of the region’s best Shiraz vineyards throughout the 19 wine growing Districts of McLaren Vale. 

MVGWTA Chairman Peter Hayes said ‘The kind of reporting available will provide growers with detailed information on their own vineyard and business operations, for the region it will show regional improvements and provide us with detailed results that the Association can use to plan and invest in viticulture related training, workshops, publications’

The McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing program was first developed in 2006 by local growers and was officially launched by the Association in 2009 under the banner Generational Farming. At the time, the program provided the most relevant tools and information available to growers to develop a self-assessment tool to improve their sustainability. In 2011, the program was re-named to McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (MVSWGA) and the workbook results released in October 2012 are a reflection of the collaborative efforts made by the McLaren Vale community. In 2012 a third party audit was put in place.  

It’s an important move for MVSWGA, which is the first program of its kind in Australia and one the MVGWTA expects other regions will follow.
‘The progression of the program into an online system was facilitated through investment from PIRSA who, impressed by the regions work to date on sustainability, backed the proposal to develop an automated system to assist with the collection of data for the McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Australia project’

‘We anticipate the move to an online system, and the associated reporting benefits for growers, will attract an even greater response amongst the McLaren Vale growers and with 25 new participants registering on the night of the launch, in addition to the 87 current members, it shows a significant level of endorsement by our local growers in support of the program’ Said Chairman Peter Hayes

Online registrations are now open for McLaren Vale growers wanting to participate in MVSWGA in 2013/14 at 


  • McLaren Vale (SA)

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May 17th, 2013
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