The burgeoning organic production of the Margaret River wine region has been celebrated at the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards, with five producers from the region among the trophy and medal winners.
Wilyabrup-based Stormflower Vineyard claimed a Silver Medal and the Trophy for Best Left of Centre Wine for their 2022 Petillant Naturel, described by judges as lively, vibrant, and a good example of the ‘naturally sparkling’ wine.
Stormflower owner David Martin said they have been learning each year since starting to produce a ‘Pet Nat’ in 2020.
“We use a mix of fruit varieties each year and in 2022 it was around 75% Chenin Blanc, 23.5% Sauvignon Blanc and 1.5% Shiraz,” Mr Martin said.
“This mix of blends and techniques helps us deliver a well-made wine that is out of the ordinary.”
Mr Martin purchased the vineyard in 2007 and immediately set about reducing the use of chemical and synthetic inputs, before starting the formal conversion to organic farming in 2013 and achieving full organic certification in 2016.
“I was very uncomfortable with the potential environmental impacts of chemical and synthetic inputs and saw no reason at all why I couldn’t operate without those inputs,” he said.
“We implemented a system based on composts, natural soil biology stimulants and natural pest and disease management before moving to a fully organic farming system.
“Our viticultural and winemaking practices are as gentle on the environment as they can be, and we focus on regenerating and working with our natural ecosystems.”
Mr Martin said maintaining organic certification was a way of providing independent assurance to his customers and supporters that the vineyard practices what it preaches.
“It is important to us that we are transparent about our activities because what we do affects more than just our immediate surroundings,” he said.
“What makes our wines distinctive is our soil and microclimate, and the care our winemaker takes in looking after the soil and the vines is crucial in producing quality fruit and ensuring the vineyard is healthy, biodiverse and resilient.”
Stormflower grows six grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon – with all wines produced only with fruit grown on their nine-hectare vineyard.
Their 2020 Cabernet Shiraz also won a Silver Medal at the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards, while their 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2022 Chardonnay and 2021 Silver Lining Crémant were awarded Bronze Medals.
Fellow Wilyabrup-based winemaker Rosily Vineyard was awarded a Gold Medal for their 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon along with two Silvers and two Bronzes, while Voyager Estate, based in Wallcliffe, took out five medals in the awards.
Two family-operated vineyards from Yallingup completed the impressive medal sweep for Margaret River producers. Windance Estate Wines took out three medals including Gold for their 2022 Cabernet Merlot, while House of Cards (inspired by “the gamble winemakers and growers take every vintage”) won Silver for their Cabernet Blend and two Bronzes.
The Margaret River region has long been celebrated for its world-class wines, but an increasing number of its producers are embracing organic and biodynamic practices, with the area’s pristine natural environment lending itself to minimal-intervention viticulture.
“Being in this area creates high expectations and puts pressure on everyone to produce high-quality wine, and that is a very good thing,” Mr Martin said.
“The health of our vineyard and resulting flavour profile of the grapes allows us to champion organic and natural winemaking, where we let the fruit speak for itself.”
Mr Martin has set up a website that lists all the winemakers in the Margaret River Region with organic or biodynamic certification, and those in the process of achieving certification.
The judging panel for the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards was led by respected wine expert, Mike Bennie, and included: Negociants Key Account Manager, Ramon Arnavas; Group Beverage Director at STK Group, Alexandra McPherson; and Australian Organic Wine Awards Associate Scholarship recipient, Sophia Gannon.
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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