SUSTAINABLE WINE FARMING
Updated: Aug 2
Avondale Wine Estate near Paarl is committed to the practice of organic, biodynamic and sustainable farming practices. At its core, this is the protection of the environment, economic feasibility and social responsibility. Sustainable wine farming methods include limiting the use of chemicals or poisons, using only natural products such as compost instead of fertilisers or pesticides, and biodynamic farming - a self-sustaining method that combines farming actions with the earth’s life cycles. This enriches the soil quality and stimulates plant and microbial life.
Jonathan Grieve, proprietor of Avondale Wine Estate, gives a few examples of their sustainable farming practices:
nutrient density: high levels of nutrient rich soil due to organic farming practices;
pest control: reducing pest damage by boosting populations of ‘beneficial’ pests such as helpful predators, parasites or pathogens;
cover crops: Avondale uses more than ten different cover crop mixes to foster a thriving community of life in its soils;
weeds: maintaining balance in the soil is an effective yet gentle approach to weed control;
fynbos: Avondale actively re-establishes indigenous fynbos species in its vineyards and has created corridors running through them so that its entire ecosystem is a well-connected web of natural vegetation;
nitrogen: in traditional farming, nitrogen requirements lead to an ongoing dependence on commercial fertilisers. However, as a result of its organic farming methods, Avondale creates conditions for natural nitrogen to be available in the soil;
use of water: Avondale is mindful of how much water it uses, as well as what happens to the waste stream. They have implemented a wastewater system of three dams interlinked by spiralling channels of cleansing reeds to replicate a natural river system. This treats the wastewater without any chemical additives.
humus: Avondale ensures that the soil is balanced so that it can provide all the nutrients needed for healthy plant and micro life. This is a key factor in biodynamic agriculture with emphasis on creating stable humus.