Wine and wetlands
Banrock Station wines promote care for the earth and conservation, from their own back yard to projects worldwide. Element discovers how a rare, feathered New Zealander has benefitted.
Banrock Station wines are situated in South Australia, 200km North East of Adelaide in the catchment of the Murray River. From this apparently remote position on the globe, Banrock have embraced the role of primary industry taking conservation to the world.
Vineyards cover 250 hectares of Banrock Stations 1,850 hectare property. Care for their earth is central to their winemaking. Kate Thorn, Banrock’s conservation manager explains the winemaking philosophy: “We try to produce it with a conscience, and to make sure that we’re looking after the earth too.” Working with the earth in Australia, water conservation is key. Thorn describes how Banrock is trialling watersaving Mediterranean grape varieties and developing sub-surface irrigation to cheat evaporation.
Banrock’s conservation story begins in its wetlands. Two main wetland lagoons cover 250 hectares. The natural seasonal cycle of the lagoons – completely dry to totally flooded – had been altered by agriculture practices introducing dams to stablise the water table. From 1995 Banrock deliberately dried and flooded its wetlands to mimic the natural cycle and stimulate the breeding of native animals and birds. The company recognises that wetlands are vital to Australia, where more than 50 per cent of them have been destroyed.
The wetlands are showcased in Banrock’s Wine and Wetland Centre. Sited above Banrock Lagoon it is built from local rammed earth and sustainable Australian plantation timber. It uses energy efficient design and incorporates solar power. Banrock intends its 80,000+ yearly visitors have food, wine and nature experience. To enhance this the wetlands are interwoven with 8km of walking trails including storyboards and bird hides.
The company has taken its conservation message global. It contributes a percentage of every bottle sold to one of 95 conservation projects in 13 countries and has donated $3 million worldwide. Projects range from assisting Natural England preserve wildflower meadows to the conservation of salmon in Lake Ontario, Canada. Li Camilleri, trade brand manager – New Zealand, explains: “The criteria is broad, however there is a focus on growing awareness and appreciation of wildlife and waterways, and projects that encourage greater environmental care and action into the future. Each country has the opportunity to submit projects for consideration.”
Banrock aims to show purchasers worldwide their care for the environment goes hand in hand with the care they take making their wine. This ethos they wear on their label – raise a glass of Banrock Station and you raise funds for conservation.