McLaren Vale Sustainable Wine Growing Australia - Q&A


A question for DJ's about the new McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program.

What are the costs, including the testing involved of the program, to get a pass mark?


Good question, Bob.

There is not a pass or fail mark to become a member. Your vineyard will, however, be placed into a category ranging from 0 (Not sustainable) to 4 (Extremely sustainable). 

The McLaren Vale Sustainable Winegrowing Australia is based on a self assessment workbook. This document will take your time to fill it out and gather the information, but in most cases these are records that grapegrowers are should already be keeping, for example fertiliser and irrigation application records.

There is a cost for the self-assessment workbook when you register. This costs is $50.

It is a very comprehensive document that covers all aspects of sustainably producing winegrapes. It consists of six chapters.

In two of these chapters to gain an extremely sustainable rating growers need to be basing their soil management and irrigation on scientific testing.

Chapter 1 -  Soil Health, Nutrition & Fertiliser Management assigns a best practice rating for growers who base their fertiliser strategies on annual tissue testing, commonly called 'petiole testing', backed up with soil testing on a three year cycle. Using the current costs of these tests a grower would need to annually assign a budget of $90 for petiole tests. A soil test every three years would costing around the $200 mark, therefore a budget of $67.

Total $157 annually.

In theory these tests will pay for themselves many times over. Soil testing and tissue testing are excellent tools for identifying limits to your production. In particular high salinity or excess sodium will cause vines to grow poorly and produce poor yields with low fruit quality. Diagnosis of salinity problems should be a routine practice.

Chapter 4 - Water Management recommends testing your water source, or getting an assessment of it annually. In many cases this test can be supplied at not cost to the grapegrower via governmental agencies, or at a low cost from private source.

Estimated cost $70.

As mentioned above, salinity and sodicity are major issues that have to be addressed by grapegrowers in order to be economically and environmentally sustainable.

The Sustainable Winegrowing Australia launch, held at the Bocce Club, was a huge success with more than 100 people in attendance. The presentation gave an overview of the MVSWGA program and provided MVGWTA with an opportunity to thank the many contributors to the program. Pic Hailey Brown.
Chester Osborne, Stephen Strachan and Peter Hayes. Pic Hailey Brown. 

In reviewing the rest of the self-assessment workbook chapters there are no other direct costs associated with moving your grapegrowing business towards sustainability. 

The final cost should be assigned to becoming certified after completing your self-assessment score. The certification of the program will be undertaken by a third party which is likely to have a cost. 

As with any certification, it can - and should - add extra credibility to your product and brand. In the future you may also need to have membership of an environmental certification scheme, such as ENTWINE Australia, which your local sustainability programme can count for.

Hope this answers your question. For more information please see -