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.

Element - - Primary Industry - By Sarah Healy

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.

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