New winemaker appointment and driving sustainability in McLaren Vale

Something meaningful and sustainable in the face of climate change, from the vineyard to the cellar door is occurring at Orbis Wines in McLaren Vale.

In keeping with its ancient namesake (which means circle), Orbis Wines has been walking the talk in sustainable winemaking since owners Brad Moyes and Kendall Grey set up the family operation at McLaren Vale in 2019, ably assisted by sustainability focused, Nuffield Scholar viticulturalist Richard Leask.

The family philosophy has been to make exceptional wine using only what is necessary and to return to the property what is needed for regeneration and sustainability; nurturing soil, vines and landscapes with an ecological focus.

This exemplary commitment has led Orbis Wines to be a finalist in the Australian Top 50 Vineyards Awards 2021, trophies for which will be announced in February.

Now, the Orbis Wines team has recruited ex-pat New Zealander biodynamic and organic viticultural consultant and oenologist Lauren Langfield to guide the team in the vineyard, to the winery and to market.

"We're delighted that Lauren has joined us," Kendall said.

"Her knowledge and skill and commitment to make great wines in ways that minimise waste and damage and add to making a better environment is a very good fit for us," she said.

"It's the way of the future."

Lauren began her wine career in larger scale conventional wine production, but has been working more recently with William Downie in West Gippsland, Brendan Keys, Gareth Belton and Erinn Klein in the Adelaide Hills. Lauren's palate "rests somewhere within the balance of non-conformist natural wine and restrained textbook winemaking".

"My strengths in organic and biodynamic viticulture benefit my winemaking - respecting fruit quality and not getting too heavy handed with the winemaking influences," Lauren said.

"I have put in the hard yards in the vineyard first, which I think is crucial for winemaking," she said.

Orbis Wines takes into account economic, social and environmental responsibilities and demonstrates how to minimise adverse impact on natural resources and counter global warming.

The winery is fully off-grid, and solar-powered with enough sparks to even charge the vineyard car and forklift as well.

Regeneration in the vineyard with an eye to the future conditions is paramount. Weakened, unproductive old vines are being replaced with varietals better suited to Australian changing climate conditions. On the property now are Cinsault, Trousseau, Grenache, Tempranillo, Montepulciano, Fiano, Albarino, Nero D'avola and old vine Shiraz.

As a finalist from a field of some 6000 grape-growers in Australia for the Vineyard Awards, Orbis Wines demonstrates commitment to sustainability, innovation and growing great wines, which are the criteria used to judge the awards.

Babydoll miniature sheep have been introduced to vines with raised cordon heights to allow year-round grazing significantly reducing tractor use in the vineyard.

All winery grape waste is composted with the help of our chickens and applied in the vineyard.

Full pasture cover in the vineyard benefits soil health, locks in carbon and increases biodiversity. Closing the loop or creating a mini circular economy on the property extends to building materials.

No treated timber is purchased. Native hardwood from the property's woodlot is used for end post replacement and construction.

"We are working to eliminate the use of materials that can't biodegrade or be recycled," Lauren said.

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