Sustainable Australia Winegrowing

SAW officially closed on 30 June 2019 with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) launching on 1 July 2019 as the single national sustainability program for wine growers and producers in Australia. If you are a past SAW member and wish to transition to SWA, please contact your regional association.

  • For further information on SWA or, to join as a new member, visit the SWA website
  • Alternatively you can contact the AWRI directly: Ph:61 8 83136600 E: helpdesk@awri.com.au

McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association sincerely thanks all those that have been involved in SAW since its inception - supporting continuous improvement in the Australian wine industry for a more sustainable future. Without your contribution, this program would have not been the success that it was.

We are excited to see the development of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia and look forward to supporting growers and wine producers to participate and demonstrate their sustainability credentials, benchmark performance and identify opportunities for improvements.

SAW Overview

The Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW) Program was the result of a series of initiatives developed by McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association (MVGWTA) since the early 2000’s. These initiatives were developed with the objective to improve viticultural practices, fruit quality and financial viability in the region. Among others, the initiatives included seminars and workshops, a growers’ bulletin (CropWatch) providing information and pest and disease alerts for the region from weather monitoring stations, field days and research trials. 1

Sustainable Australia Winegrowing was developed to maximise growers and regional overall sustainability, and aimed to minimise environmental impacts. The data captured and reported provided growers with the best management tool to demonstrate their performance against their regional peers and recognised best practice.

1 Dr Irina Santiago-Brown, Implementation Manual Sustainable Australia Winegrowing—SAW, 2015

Objectives

The Sustainable Australia Winegrowing, McLaren Vale program objectives included:

  • Increasing the overall sustainability of McLaren Vale
  • Increaing the overall sustainability of the Australian wine industry
  • Promoting regional social development and well-being
  • Increasing grape quality
  • Increasing growers’ profitability
  • Vineyard improvement
  • Land preservation and improvement
  • Optimise input use
  • Minimising potential negative impacts on the environment
  • Sustainable development
  • Production optimisation for desired grape quality
  • Resource management
  • Meeting the requirements of the wineries (fruit specifications)

Assessment 

The program assessed sustainability through the triple bottom line approach (environment, economics and social) and focused on continuous improvement of the grower and the region’s results over time.

Seven assessment areas were developed:

  1. Soil Health, Nutrition and Fertiliser Management
  2. Pest and Disease Management
  3. Biodiversity Management
  4. Water Management
  5. Waste Management
  6. Social Relations (workers, community and wineries)
  7. Economic Sustainability

Each of the assessment areas were written by local grower working groups and peer reviewed by experts on a volunteer basis.

The program was delivered through an online recording platform via a combination of self-assessment and data recording, and was validated by third-party audits of 10% of the participating vineyards, selected at random. Vineyards also had the option to choose to be independently audited by third-party certifiers at their own cost to promote their own business and/or to increase the credibility of their sustainability claims to their stakeholders.

The Reporting System

The system was created with the understanding that assessments would be useful, proper and meaningful for growers. All data collected wasss reported back in varying ways to support growers in their management decision. Results through reports were also used to plan the viticultural educational initiatives (eg. seminars, workshops, field days, etc.) implemented by the Association which supported growers to overcome the weaknesses highlighted by the collective regional results.

By the close of each season, participating growers had access to an annual tailored report which provided them with regional benchmarks and very practical pathways for continuous improvement of their everyday management practices.