Sustainability and the Environment
A Name With Meaning
Poonawatta takes its name from the Peramangk Aboriginal people. It has a fortuitous meaning in the Peramangk dialect, poona meaning “good / healthy / fertile”, and watta meaning “a person’s land or country”.
Credentials that sit well with the environmentally sustainable approach taken on the Poonawatta property. Our Environmental Management Policy is the framework for our sustainable farming practices, founded on continuous improvement of environmental outcomes.
The Poonawatta vineyard is managed a little differently; nature gets a pretty free run. The birds are free to come and go as they please for most of the season, with netting only used during the final stages of ripening.
Our native bird list continues to grow, with wrens, robins, lorikeets and butcher birds joining the more typical species of birds seen in the vineyard.
Kangaroo’s regularly call the vineyards home, along with the re-vegetated areas of the Poonawatta property. Reptiles are respected, not feared. Eastern brown snakes are common, along with the occasional red-bellied black. Bearded dragons are often seen in the vineyards, with blue tongue and shingleback lizards more likely to be seen in the re-vegetation areas.
We often see signs of echidnas along the creek lines and re-veg areas, and occasionally have the pleasure of finding one on the move in day light hours. In 2018, we found one scratching away in the Riesling vineyard. The under-vine ecosystem supports a plethora of insects, the occasional skink and the all-important worms.
In the dam there are plenty of long-necked tortoise, and we often see them on the march in spring to early summer. Concerningly frogs are rarer now than the old days, but we still regularly come across a number of species.
Native grasses are encouraged to grow between the vines, and the vineyard hosts a wide range of beneficial insects. Wind-breaks consist of local native species hosting a range of wildlife, and fruiting trees that ripen at the same time as the grapes, acting as a natural diversion to visiting birds.
Fungal spraying is done at a low frequency in line with organic principals. Weed control is largely managed through mowing and under-vine mulching. In drought years we have applied the occasional under-vine spray to reduce competition, with a focus on non-systemic applications.
The rest of the property has been substantially re-planted to local natives, and the watercourses fenced and re-planted (ongoing project), thereby reducing erosion and improving water quality.
Our Environmental Management System (EMS) aims to ensure sustainable farming practices and is founded on continuous improvement of environmental outcomes that focus on:
- Minimising the risk of polluting and degrading land, air and water, using best land management practice
- Protecting native flora/fauna by continuing to enhance habitat
- Maintaining wine grape production standards to maximise quality with minimal intervention
- Reduce soil erosion and improve water quality and wildlife corridors through isolating dams and waterways and replanting to native vegetation
- Enhancing soil health and fertility through holistic soil management
Specifically, in relation to vineyard practices:
- Vineyard weed control is maintained through use of under-vine mulch and sheep grazing post vintage to bud burst plus mid row slashing as required, significantly reducing and in some cases eliminating the need for herbicide sprays.
- Tractor work is kept to a minimum to reduce soil compaction.
- Native grasses are encouraged in the mid row.
- Wind breaks around the vineyard consist of indigenous plants that maintain habitat for native birds, reptiles, small mammals and beneficial insects.
- Mildew spray programs are kept to an absolute minimum and are based on organic practices.
- No pesticide sprays are used.
Biodiversity starts with soil health, particularly through better understanding and management of soil biota, and through using only organic soil improvement practices. This is the foundation of the vineyard holistic management plan with the above strategies underpinning this. Each initiative supports and compliments the other, and through a deliberate minimalist approach, we ensure our farming practices are environmentally sustainable.