Angaston’s Yalumba Winery continues to lead the way in the country's booming organic wine industry, thanks to one passionate viticulturist – Brooke Howell – who was recently recognised as the nation’s top young organic leader.
Ms Howell, 27, was labelled Silver Young Organic Leader at the Australian Organic Awards – and was praised for her efforts in converting some of the winery’s vineyards to organic management.
“I really enjoy my work – there’s always something new to learn about organics and what works for your region,” she said.
“If we can find an alternative method that means it’s more sustainable and healthier for human consumption, then why wouldn’t we try it out.”
Ms Howell grew up on a broadacre farm in the Eyre Peninsula, before completing a five-year viticulture degree at the University of Adelaide.
Now, she helps manage seven hectares of organic and biodynamic vineyards at Yalumba Winery, and a further 10 hectares in the Riverland.
“We’ve got some vineyards that I look after that are organically certified through Australian Certified Organic,” she said.
“We are moving towards full certification, so that further down the track we can sell our wine as an organic product.”
Mr Howell said the local winery would continue to develop its organic wine operation, where grapes are grown without the use of artificial or synthetic chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides.
“It’s an alternative way of farming compared to conventional systems, where you are using a lot of pesticides,” she said.
“We are currently trialing different things to see what works and what doesn’t, keeping ahead of what other people are doing in different industries, so we can perhaps adapt some of those ideas to our own vineyard.
“We are looking towards being more environmentally friendly, and sustainable in the long-term, rather than using conventional systems that heavily rely on pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.”