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Sustainability Overview

McLaren Vale is the most environmentally sustainable wine grape growing region in Australia.

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What Is Sustainability?

Sustainable development is the overarching paradigm of the United Nations. The concept of sustainable development was described by the 1987 Brundtland Commission Report as

“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

There are four dimensions to sustainable development, which are intertwined, not separate: Society, Environment, Culture and Economy.


Sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life. For example, a prosperous society relies on a healthy environment to provide food and resources, safe drinking water and clean air for its citizens.

One might ask, what is the difference between sustainable development and sustainability? Sustainability is often thought of as a long-term goal (i.e. a more sustainable world), while sustainable development refers to the many processes and pathways to achieve it (e.g. sustainable agriculture and forestry, sustainable production and consumption, good government, research and technology transfer, education and training, etc.).*

*Source: UNESCO

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McLaren Vale was the first region in Australia to declare and manage its underground water resource so that it is self-replenishing.

McLaren Vale built the first and largest reclaimed water network in Australia so that 100% of all irrigation used in our region is now from a sustainable resource other than river water.

There are three main sources of water in McLaren Vale which are important to irrigated grape production. Traditionally the main sources have been groundwater aquifers in the Willunga Basin and surface catchment dams, where water is collected and stored from natural run-off. Sprinkler or flood irrigation has not been used in McLaren Vale for over 30 years.

In recent years, a third resource has been introduced: treated reclaimed water which is piped into our region from the Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant and Willunga Basin Water Company in the Aldinga area. The use of recycled water is very important to the sustainability of natural water resources as it takes significant pressure off the natural groundwater.

Uptake and use of moisture monitoring technology for making informed irrigation management decisions is a touchstone for our region.

What is Sustainable Winegrowing?

Growing and making wine sustainably is a holistic approach to production that evolves the environmental aspect of the craft. It looks at how we can better use energy and water to create efficiency, support regions and communities, and establish a business that is resilient and thriving.

Where organic and biodynamic practices look specifically at environmental management, sustainable winegrowing takes a broader view to improve social and economic performance. Fortunately, many growers and makers in Australia are practicing sustainably already, it’s just getting into the habit of documenting everything to make it official.

As part of the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program, information collected allows a greater understanding of what’s happening in the vineyard or winery. It allows our community to know where they are and have a view to where they want their practice to be. So, they can be proactive, rather than reactive.*

*Source: Sustainable Winegrowing Australia