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For Members of the McLaren Vale Grape, Wine & Tourism Association.

23, May 2023


As the effects of climate change increase each year, wine regions around the world are having to adapt to ensure their longevity. For McLaren Vale Wine Region that means growing climate appropriate varieties, irrigating our vineyards from our sustainable reclaimed water network and developing the first self-assessment sustainability framework for grape growers that became what is now the national winegrowing sustainability program.

Upon a visit to one of our many cellar doors you’ll soon see that sustainability is a way of life in McLaren Vale. It runs through our veins. Why? Because it must. Climate change is here and we see the effects in our vineyards, from the hot dry seasons where we’re thankful for our reclaimed water network to seasons like we’ve just seen in vintage 2023 where the prolonged wet growing season presented challenges at the other end of the spectrum.

Fortunately, McLaren Vale’s passionate viticulturalists and winemakers have been leading the way in sustainability since the 1990’s and with one glance at the stunning coastal landscape of McLaren Vale Wine Region, you’ll understand why the locals are so passionate about preserving this captivating part of the world.

Anton Groffen preparing compost at Wirra Wirra
Anton Groffen preparing compost at Wirra Wirra | Copyright Wirra Wirra Vineyards.

"At Wirra Wirra, 100% of our grape marc is composted on site and then used on our estate vineyards.⁠

It’s our Viticulturist, Anton’s favourite time of year! He and Vineyard Manager Jose have been doing a lot of compost work in recent weeks. Jose has been busy with blending and construction of the vintage 2023 pile, as we’re preparing the spread the vintage 2022 pile across our McLaren Vale site. The way we make it, is to blend the grape marc from the 2023 vintage, with about 35% of the matured vintage 2022 compost and some other components, Anton says it’s like making sour dough bread.

The compost will generate heat up to about 65 degrees Celsius over the next few months while we’re building it and turning, and the fungi and bacteria is partying. It will slowly settle down over the spring and summer as it matures and becomes fungal dominant ready for spreading this time next year." ~ Matthew Deller MW, CEO of Wirra Wirra

So as a consumer of wine, how do you make the sustainable choice?

It’s clear that there is confusion when it comes to making sustainable purchases with “57% of consumers feeling that it is really hard to tell which products are good or bad ethically, or for the environment.” (Source: Kantar Sustainability Sector Index 2022).

So we’ve compiled an overview of the key sustainability accreditations that are relevant to wine:


Organic grape growing involves using natural methods to control pests and diseases, instead of synthetic chemicals. This means that grape growers will use compost, cover crops, and natural predators to keep their vines healthy, instead of using pesticides and herbicides. Organic viticulture also promotes biodiversity, as it encourages the growth of other plants and animals in and around the vineyard.

Biodynamic grape growing is an organic farming method that goes further than the previously mentioned organic grape growing method to create a balanced environment that is in harmony with nature. Developed by Rudolph Steiner in 1924, the Biodynamic farming method guides viticulturalists to view their vineyard as a holistic system. It involves using natural preparations, such as compost teas and homeopathic remedies, to enhance soil fertility and vine health as well as using the lunar calendar and other cosmic rhythms to guide farming practices.

What does organic and biodynamic look like in McLaren Vale Wine Region?
37% of McLaren Vale vineyards are certified to the
National Standard for Organic and Bio-dynamic Produce.

What to look for when purchasing:

Look for wine companies and wine labels that contain the ‘Certified Organic’ or ‘Certified Biodynamic’ Trust Mark from reputable certification boards such as NASAA Organic Certification or ACO Certification Ltd.


Sustainable Winegrowing Australia is Australia’s national program for grape growers and wine businesses to commit to continuous improvement on the path to producing sustainable wine.

This program covers the three pillars of sustainability; environment, social and economic.

What does Sustainable Winegrowing Australia look like in McLaren Vale Wine Region?

69% of McLaren Vale’s vineyards are members of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia and are committed to continuously improve sustainability in the vineyard and winery. So far 35% have achieved Sustainable Winegrowing Australia Certified status.

What to look for when purchasing:

Look for wine companies and wine labels that contain the ‘Sustainable Winegrowing Australia Certified’ Trust Mark.


The Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations is a voluntary standard to manage greenhouse gas emissions, achieve carbon neutrality and seek carbon neutral certification.

The carbon neutral standard goes beyond the wine industry as it is a standard that all industries can work to in the journey to carbon neutrality.

What does carbon neutral mean in McLaren Vale Wine Region?
McLaren Vale is home to South Australia’s first certified carbon neutral wine organisation, Hither & Yon.

What to look for when purchasing:

Look for wine companies and wine labels that contain a ‘Certified Carbon Neutral’ Trust Mark from reputable certification boards such as Climate Active which is an Australian Government Initiative.


For a wine company to be able to use any of the above certified trust marks on their wine label, they must undergo an independent audit of their practices against a national standard, so when you see these trust marks you can be confident that your buying decision is a sustainable one.

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