Cover crop of Faba beans and Triticale in the contoured Ironstone Shiraz block

Sustainable Practice

Loading vineyard spreader with composted manure

Sustainable Vineyard Practises at Pirramimma

A large portion of the Pirramimma estate has been planted to vineyards continually for over a century.

Approximately 26 years ago Pirramimma’s vineyard soils were biologically analysed and were found to be virtually biologically sterile along with very low carbon levels due to many years of over cultivation due to a limited available knowledge of viticultural best practise for vineyard soils . The only way to control vineyard weeds was through constant yearly draft horse mullboard cultivation and in later years tractor rotary hoe was employed which increased loss of soil structure, carbon and soil biology.

The new Pirramimma sustainable best practise hinged itself around inoculating soils with good Fungi, soil Microbes, Humates and any macro and trace element deficiencies while starting to recover the vineyards soils carbon levels and structure, which are necessary to support the soils important biology and minimum cultivation .

Matured composted manure ready to spread

The second phase incorporated fast forwarding the vineyards soil recovery by composting the winery grape marc with aged Chicken or Turkey manure to recycle as much of the grape marc nutrients as possible .

The compost was belt spread in Autumn and every row was seeded with a combination of Faba Beans and cereal Triticale which consistently grows to a height of 1.5 metres.

The Pirramimma trick is to allow the cover crop to mature to yellow in colour and then just roll flat with our designed vineyard roller. This enables the soil surface to be mulched during the warm Australian growing season to reduce the soil surface temperature and minimise soil evaporation to help maintain and reduce any likely vine stress up until harvest.

The rolled cover crop is decomposed during the vineyards following winter where importantly fungi does all the cover crop cellulose breakdown as there is no available soluble sugars in the mulched cover crop plants.

There is usually quite a lot of mature carry over seed which germinates with any Autumn breaking season rains. Then the whole process is repeated gradually increasing the vineyard soils carbon level and general soil health and soil structure.

An excellent way to follow the vines improvement and ultimate wine quality is to follow the leaf Brix ( sugar ) levels around flowering time, the higher the leaf Brix the better and in fact high Brix levels minimises and eliminates or discourages any Light Brown Apple Moth infestation so the process is also a biological pest erraticant.

The aim to keep the vineyard photosynthesising / operational until the fruit is harvested which eliminates any over ripe flavours in the finished wines.

Vineyard manager, Andrew Johnston checking the heat in fermenting compost