Sustainable Australia Winegrowing

Overview

The Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW) program is 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 maximize growers and regional overall sustainability, and aims to minimize environmental impacts. The data capture and reporting provides growers with the best management tool to demonstrate their performance against their regional peers and recognised best practice.

Sustainable Australia Winegrowing is now available to any grower across Australia, and is accredited by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) for full Entwine Membership.

Please click here to express your interest in participating in SAW.

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

Objectives

  • The Sustainable Australia Winegrowing, McLaren Vale program objectives include:
  • Increase the overall sustainability of McLaren Vale
  • Increase the overall sustainability of the Australian wine industry
  • Promote regional social development and well-being
  • Increase grape quality
  • Increase growers’ profitability
  • Vineyard improvement
  • Land preservation and improvement
  • Optimise input use
  • Minimise potential negative impacts on the environment
  • Sustainable development
  • Production optimisation for desired grape quality
  • Resource management
  • Meet the requirements of the wineries (fruit specifications)

Assessment 

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

Seven assessment areas have been 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 have been written by local grower working groups and peer reviewed by experts on a volunteer basis.

The program is delivered through an online recording platform via a combination of self-assessment and data recording, and is validated by third-party audits of 10% of the participating vineyards, selected at random.  Vineyards may also choose to be independently audited by third-party certifiers at their own costs 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 must be useful, proper and meaningful for growers. All data collected is reported back in varying ways to support growers in their management decision. Results through reports are also used to plan the viticultural educational initiatives (eg. seminars, workshops, field days, etc.) implemented by the Association which support growers to overcome the weaknesses highlighted by the collective regional results.

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