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South Australian growers dominate Organic Wine Awards

IMAGE CAPTION: Ngeringa Vineyards Winemaker, Erinn Klein.

South Australia has scooped the pool at the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards, with four of the six major trophies awarded to growers from the Wine State.

Hosted by Australian Organic Limited (AOL), the Awards, now in their third year, celebrate Australia’s certified organic and biodynamic wine industry.

In total, 45 certified organic and biodynamic wine producers from 32 regions across the country submitted 211 bottles of the nation’s finest organic wines for judging in the Awards program.

AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, congratulated the winners for their outstanding results.

“Once again it is impressive to see the high quality of wines produced across the certified organic and biodynamic wine sector and I congratulate this year’s winners for their contribution to the industry,” Ms Ford said.

“South Australia is Australia’s wine capital, and it’s also leading the way when it comes to producing quality organic and biodynamic wines which combine a commitment to quality with a passion for sustainability.”

Ngeringa Vineyards, Adelaide Hills

Cullen Wines Trophy Wine of Show, Red of Show and Gold Medal – 2021 Ngeringa Iluma Syrah

Adelaide Hills Ngeringa Vineyards’ Iluma Syrah once again secured the coveted Cullen Wines Trophy for Wine of Show, after their 2019 vintage secured the top prize in the 2021 Awards.

One of three Ngeringa Vineyards, the Iluma Vineyard is located in Nairne on the northern slope of the Mount Barker summit.

Chief Judge, Mike Bennie, said the Iluma Syrah boasted a wild streak, making it interesting, character-filled, complex and appealing.

“All judges were impressed by its elegance and yet great energy,” Mr Bennie said.

“It’s a beautiful wine reflecting the exacting viticulture and cooler climate place from which it has come.”

One of the pioneers of sustainable winemaking in Australia, Ngeringa has been certified biodynamic for more than 20 years.

Winemaker, Erinn Klein, said their process was steeped in tradition, culture and history.

“I grew up with biodynamics on my parents’ herb farms. To grow our grapes any other way was unthinkable,” he said.

“The biodynamic process creates a balanced and healthy relationship between soil, plant and all living beings – and opens the vines to optimum expression of flavour in the glass.

“Synthetic chemicals are not used on our farm or in the vineyard. We strive towards a farming system that is in balance, where healthy soils grow healthy vines that produce grapes that give us an amazing expression of place in our wines.”

Yangarra Estate Vineyard, McLaren Vale

White of Show and Gold Medal – 2022 Yangarra Estate Vineyard Blanc

Yangarra Estate Vineyard Manager, Michael Lane, and Winemaker, Peter Fraser.

Bringing home the White of Show was McLaren Vale-based Yangarra Estate Vineyard 2022 Blanc White Blend, produced from primarily French white grape varieties including Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Gris and Piquepoul.

Yangarra Estate Winemaker, Peter Fraser, said the award was recognition for planting and making grape varieties that better suit the local McLaren Vale climate and coastal lifestyle.

“Yangarra’s combination of ancient geology and Mediterranean climate provide the ideal growing conditions for the best grape varieties of the southern Rhône, France,” he said.

“Our wines are all produced from estate-grown fruit using organic and biodynamic practices.”

The Blewitt Springs single-vineyard operation has been certified under Australian Certified Organic (ACO) standards since 2012, and Mr Fraser continues to experiment with sensitive minimal intervention winemaking.

“By removing all synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers on our estate vineyard, we have promoted a natural succession in soil and vine health,” Mr Fraser said.

“We subscribe to sustainable and regenerative farming principles, where organic practices are a very important part of that management.

“We promote beneficial soil microbial biomass, and aid natural composting processes through mulching grasses under vine back into the soil, building organic matter.

“Our ultimate goal is to produce the highest quality of fruit that can be sourced from the vineyard to create wines that truly reflect a sense of this unique place.”

Yalumba, Barossa Valley

Best Park Wine and Gold Medal – 2022 Yalumba Gen Viognier

2022 Yalumba Gen Viognier, Hill-Smith Family Estates, South Australia.

The historic Yalumba winery was awarded a Gold Medal and the title of Best Park Wine for 2023, with the low acidity of their 2022 Yalumba Gen Viognier making it a balanced and versatile pairing for a range of food options.

Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, Yalumba has been owned and operated by the Hill-Smith family since its formation in 1849.

Yalumba began producing organic wine in 2005 with the release of its first vintage of Shiraz, followed soon with an organic Viognier (2006), and they have since added more varieties to their certified organic range.

Yalumba Winemaker, Heather Fraser, said it was heartening to see more people enjoying non-traditional varietal organic wine.

“Our wines are a reflection of the hard work our vineyard teams put in to get the right balance of varietal, site and clone and this translates through to the winery where we can use minimal winemaking intervention to allow these wines to be unique,” she said.

“Organic practices help ensure we leave a brighter future for the next generation and beyond through the reduction of harsh chemicals in the vineyard. This has translated to how we manage our conventionally run vineyards as we have adopted similar practices in these as well.”

Tscharke Wines, Barossa Valley

Best Chillable Red and Gold Medal – 2021 A thing of beauty Grenache

Tscharke Winemaker, Marco De Martino.

A Gold Medal and Trophy for the Best Chillable Red was awarded to Barossa Valley’s Tscharke vineyard for their 2021 ‘A thing of beauty’ Grenache. The Tscharke stable is no stranger to the Awards, having taken home the White of Show at the 2021 Organic Industry Awards.

Tscharke Vineyards are planted on some of the oldest vine-growing soils in the world on the Western Ridge of the Barossa Valley.

Winemaker, Marco De Martino, said A thing of beauty enhances the floral aromatics of Grenache with minimalistic winemaking on a certified organic vineyard.

“Our small team gives 110% each day to produce delicious wine, and this is proof that our product is high calibre not just in our eyes, but in those of the industry experts who judged the Awards,” he said.

“Sustainability is always our focus, not because it’s trendy, but because it’s the only real way forward.”

Mr De Martino said synthetic herbicides or pesticides were never relied upon heavily on the vineyard, but achieving full organic certification in 2019 was an important way to cement Tscharke’s commitment to sustainable winemaking.

“It’s important both for the environment and the people who drink our wines that all our practices follow organic and biodynamic principles,” he said.

“Being part of the community of organic and biodynamic winemakers is an honour and a big responsibility. We work hard every day to not only lift the quality of our wines, but also that of our region.”

View the full list of winners from the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards here.

September is Australian Organic Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness of the benefits of certified organic products for human health and environmental sustainability, as well as emphasising the importance of checking for organic certification marks on labels. To learn more about Australian Organic Awareness Month, visit the website.

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Tim Vetter
0439 681 793

Kate Scott
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