Maintaining a reliable and sustainable vineyard water supply whilst experiencing the effects of climate change, can be quite challenging. We have a 170acre vineyard made up of very thirsty soil; sandy and shallow, rocky/gravelly granitic and free draining. Ideal for producing high quality grapes, but not so great for the environment.
There was a dam on the vineyard when we purchased it back in 2004, but it was often only half full and sometimes went dry in the summer months. During the growing season the Hilltops wine region sees an average of 310mm of rainfall, which compared to some regions is quite generous, but when you lose most of that to soil seepage, you have no choice but to become reliant on the town water supply.
Wanting to be better environmental citizens, we set about investigating ways that we could improve our water usage and be more self sufficient with regard to our water supply. There were two crucial elements that we needed to address; to harvest& retain more rainwater and to prevent seepage and evaporation.
After much research, we decided to expand the size of our dam and to install geomembrane liners and covers. By taking this approach we have;
• Our Dam now collects water at a 98% efficiency rate
• The new lined Dam now minimizes water seepage by 100%
• The cover minimizes evaporation by about 70%
• The cover also maintains high water quality by reducing algae growth from sunlight (bonus for the vines)
We are always looking for ways where we can make better farming decisions to improve the vineyard and lessen our footprint on the environment. Our goal is to be a responsible steward of the land; while focussing on high quality and economically viable grape growing, we also hope to reduce our Carbon footprint and protect the surrounding environment. It doesn’t matter how small the step, as long as we continue to make them.