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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

You might have heard of a phrase in education: ‘lifelong learning’. The idea is that your wellbeing improves if you keep learning new things right across your lifespan. Well, when it comes to learning new and innovative ways to grow grapes and make premium wines, we here at Taylors Wines are happy to be known as lifelong scholars. That’s because we humbly recognise that for the craft of viniculture – studied and applied by humans for at least the last 8,000 years – one whole lifetime couldn’t be long enough to learn all that there is to know. So we stay diligently up-to-date with the latest developments in wine craft, doing the best we can to ensure quality and refinement across everything that we do.

Learning at the edge

Like many practices since the early 20th century, viniculture has been greatly enhanced by incredible leaps in technology. At Taylors, we examine and trial new trends in viniculture with a view to continuously improving the taste, quality and integrity of our wine ranges. And because of our proven commitment both to the land and to overall vineyard health, we insist that any innovations not only avoid harming the environment, but also actually put something back. We’re learning more each day about the potential to improve our outputs, both in the vineyard and back at the winery. And that’s great news for enjoyers of wine, who can count on us staying at the cutting edge of developments in wine growth and development.

Developments in precision viticulture

Precision viticulture (PV) is a concept that started to gain traction in Australian winegrowing a few years ago (and just to avoid confusion – viticulture is about growing all types of grapes, for wine, the table and juice, while the term viniculture refers exclusively to wine grape production). The concept of ‘PV’ might seem ridiculously simple – basically, it’s about adapting your practices to suit varying vineyard requirements. Yet for too long in Australia, viticulturists and other primary producers have spent too much time fighting or ignoring the microclimatic realities within and across their paddocks. Precision viticulture promotes the harnessing of new technologies, such as GPS, high-res soil surveys, yield monitoring and remote sensors, in order to provide us grape growers with unbeatable data about individual vine needs. This technology can provide an enormous amount of precise information on moisture levels, soil issues, pest presence, pruning needs, and wind factors, for example. And the outcome for fruit quality and yield can be, well, simply outstanding.

GPS for wine?!

Now this approach isn’t about replacing people with machines – nothing comes close to the five senses, or to a producer’s personal affinity with their vines!

But if we can use technology to learn more about the subtleties of our soil, our vines, and our fruit, then our decisions about growth, harvest and vinification are going to be better informed.

You might ask what does this all mean for premium wine offerings, such as those in our award-winning collection? Well, it means our winemakers are presented with simply impeccable fruit that has been grown on carefully nurtured vines – each planted for optimum results. Water, nutrition and protection needs have been observed and acted on appropriately throughout the entire growth cycle. Plus, harvest has occurred at precisely the perfect time for each varietal. And the environment has received as little burden as possible, with wastage and overplanting issues eliminated. Our winemakers then have the opportunity to work with grapes that they’ve monitored closely right throughout growth and harvest. This gives them the ability to make vinification and fermentation decisions that are perfectly matched to the nuances of each particular vintage. Pretty heady stuff!

And, technological advances are happening all the time. The exciting innovations being talked about in viniculture might sometimes seem a bit pie in the sky – until you start to see examples of new technology coming into being.vineyard-tractor

Pinpointing vine stress

For instance, we were intrigued to hear earlier this year of a device being developed by a West Australian researcher, which monitors real-time vine stress. Now, we all know what a wilting plant looks like – but in the commercial vineyard, it pays to know about any water stress that vines are experiencing long before such visible signs emerge.

Bringing those grapes in pristine, succulent style to the winery is a skill that requires relentless monitoring of moisture, nutrient, pest and weather variables across the growing season. We need all the help available! So, it’s certainly exciting that Associate Professor Rafiei over at UWA is developing a real-time intelligent sensor water stress device that will do a whole lot better than humans at detecting precisely when the vines are under strain from the dry. And irrigation for such vines at exactly the right time prevents the avoidable problems with grape yield and quality if such stress goes undetected for too long.

Water is a constant issue for us primary producers. With innovations such as this emerging, we can conserve water though efficient use, while also enhancing grape yield and quality. That’s got to be a win-win!

Learning every day

We could certainly wax lyrical long into the night about the tremendous innovations coming through in viniculture. You might have guessed that at Taylors Wines, we’re excited to learn everything that we can about how to bring the best fruit from the vineyard straight to our winemakers.

The overall trends of precision viticulture, plus developments like the real-time water stress device, give us confidence that technology for winegrowers is improving every day.

Suffice to say, here in Auburn we intend to stay on the edge of technology, ensuring that our vines are tended and our wines created with knowledge of the best innovations available. If we reduce wastage, improve soil, enhance fruit and deliver premium wines… then every little bit of our learning is worth the effort. We can all raise a glass to that!

vineyards

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The thing about a passionate and dedicated family business like Taylors is that we love a good challenge.  A good example of this is achieving the 100% carbon neutral standard on our Eighty Acres range of wines. We were actually  the world’s first winery to succeed at meeting this globally recognised ISO standard. Some out there might question why we’d bother to put the time and effort into meeting the exacting ISO14044 markers required for this goal. Well, to understand a bit about this journey and why we know it’s important, first let’s put this achievement into the context of what we do day in and out.

Respecting what you love

Basically, we’re pretty blessed to be able to grow grapes and make our wines  from vines grown across some of the most beautiful valleys and hillsides in Australia.

Clinton Taylor and his children planting trees.

Clinton Taylor and his children planting trees.

The way we look at it, caring for this environment is like caring for our families – both deserve our focus and stewardship for their ongoing wellbeing. We reckon it’s basically about respect, and facing up to the reality that you tend to get out of things precisely what you put in. As a result, here at Taylors we’ve worked hard over the course of the last 10 years at putting a raft of environmentally-sound practices in place under our extensive Environmental Management System.  This includes a range of efforts aimed at reducing waste , managing energy, and improving efficiency across both our wineries and corporate sites.

Back to basics

Our 100% carbon neutral Eighty Acres range is now a proud part of this push.

The Eighty Acres wines

The Eighty Acres wines

This robust little crop of wines has been a delight since its creation in 2007, even before the ISO standard was achieved. High quality development, down-to-earth flavour integrity and reasonable prices have made our Eighty Acres wines firm favourites since their introduction. The quirky name comes from the Clare Valley eighty acre blocks that were first planted back in 1969. The very first of these blocks was imaginatively called – you guessed it – ‘Eighty Acres’. We like to think our grandfather Bill Taylor was so busy getting those historic first vines into the ground in order to make outstanding wine that he didn’t waste time on fancy paddock names! And so to honour that basic integrity, plus the roots of our down-to-earth wine-making heritage, we’re proud of the name given to the small but mighty Eighty Acres range.

A challenge? Bring it on!

Getting back to our Environmental Management System (also a proud recipient of ISO certification) including the suite of practices that we’ve been putting in place, Taylors began to look at the possibility of working towards 100% carbon neutrality within our business. We knew it wouldn’t be easy – no other winery had achieved this to date! Yet as we mentioned above, we at Taylors really do love a challenge.   First of all we started looking for a business section to work on for this goal. Not surprisingly, the  honeTaylors Wines 100% CarbonNeutral leaf imagest and earthy Eighty Acres range pretty much leapt out at us as the perfect place to start our journey. We then began researching the requirements of the ISO 14044 lifecycle assessment standard. It meant taking a long hard look at our processes and practices in the vineyards and at the winery, across issues as diverse as water usage, transport, recycling and packaging. Slowly but surely we altered and replaced systems so as to improve efficiencies across the life cycle of the products we created. In 2009 we also began offsetting our carbon emissions through other sustainable projects. And there’s no chance of businesses being able to fudge these international standards for a cynical bit of ‘greenwash’. All of our reports and figures were analysed at RMIT, being rigorously assessed by an independent auditor before the ISO14044 could be applied.

That extra bit of special

But the average enjoyer of our fine Eighty Acres range might shrug and say, well – does it change anything in the wine? Maybe not officially…But as you know, we think a lot more goes into good wine beside the ‘official’ ingredients. For a start there’s passion, innovation and of course there’s integrity. We reckon by working so hard to make our gorgeous Eighty Acres range of wines 100% carbon neutral, there might be just a little more of those ingredients in each bottle. You can drink a glass of our Eighty Acres wine knowing that stewardship of the environment has front and centre during all steps of creation.  And you wouldn’t be alone in admiring these wines – they were showcased by invitation at the 2009 Climate Change Conference, and continue to be loved across the world for their pure drinkability.

Our bigger environmental dream

sheep in vineyards

Avoiding pesticides by using sheep to control weeds in the vineyards

Also, Eighty Acres world-first achievement of the 100% carbon neutral ISO lifecycle standard is just one part (and ok, we think a pretty impressive part!) of Taylor’s overall Environmental Action Plan. Along with best practice viticulture and leading-edge water and energy conservation initiatives, we also ‘act locally’ by working on regeneration of the Wakefield River, the lifeblood of our beloved Clare Valley estate. Plus, we’re tireless in our efforts towards further developing organic vineyard care involving mulching, composting and pesticide reduction. Add to these our innovative work towards better, lighter and more environmentally sound packaging and you can start to get a feel for how seriously we take our environmental credentials.

Green for the future

Whether it’s on our rural operations or over in the cities where our larger offices are situated, our green-friendly approach is woven into who we are. Sure, the ISO accreditation for our 100% carbon neutral Eighty Acres range is something that puts a smile on our faces. But even beyond acknowledgement of our efforts, it’s just great to know that such a likeable wine range as Eighty Aces also has the added bonus of hitting well above its weight on the green front. And that’s something we hope the great-grandkids can one day truly celebrate.

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