“The best way to predict future is to create it.”
The Balnaves family are determined to leave our land and community a better place and make a difference through our economic, social, and environmental practices and responsibilities.
- The wine industry as a whole has done a lot of work on climate adaptation.
- Coonawarra and Balnaves are already seeing differences in traditional seasonal parameters like:
- rainfall, when it’s occurring, and
- change in peak harvest dates.
- Balnaves are invested in preparing for anticipated climatic changes that are being predicted. To adapt:
- We have replanted 30% of our vineyards
- Expanded our trial work on rootstocks that require less water, handle higher levels of water stress, and are de-invigorating.
- The use of long-term water usage records and a good understanding of how and when the cover crops use water, is the direction we need to head to be prepared.
- Cabernet is also well-suited for a warming climate, so we are planting more of it when we can.
- Balnaves have been involved with carbon and carbon calculation since late 2022.
- We have been part of a multi commodity group assessing how much carbon we produce and how we could potentially reduce that amount.
- Coonawarra is well suited to carbon sequestration because of the clay soils that carbon can sequent.
- We are constantly exploring other ways to reduce our carbon footprint, such as:
- Minimizing diesel usage. We started this journey seven years ago by remotely monitoring diesel consumption in our tractors.
- We’ve changed our operations and invested in tractors that produce the required horsepower at lower revs, which decreased our fuel consumption by 30%.
- We choose to maintain our older equipment instead of replacing them just because of their age.
- Balnaves do not use nitrogenous fertilizers and only use seaweed based products to maintain vine health.
- This season we are trialing bio stimulants and assessing the possible widespread use of them on some of our sites.
- We have audited all of our pump sites and removed inefficiencies such as predetermined flow parameters. This has meant a change in management style but reduced our irrigation energy use.
- We have also paid a deposit on an electric tractor made in the USA. It is unclear when this will be in Australia but offers the possibility of further reductions of diesel on some vineyard tasks particularly when the electric tractor could be recharged with excess solar power from our winery site.
RENEWABLE ENERGY & EFFICIENCY
- Installation of a 72.5kw solar system at Balnaves Winery. This system supplies 100% of the winery’s power except during peak vintage intake.
- We have saved 101,781 kg of emissions
- This has an equivalent planting of 1975 trees
- LED Lighting – All lighting has been replaced with energy efficient LED lighting in the winery, vineyard and cellar door.
- Bird boxes around the cellar door
- Six monthly focus on a bird – currently Blue Wren
- Trees are planted annually to create wildlife corridors
- Fox lights are put out during the nesting season for brolgas and swans to deter predators
- Feral cat catching program when problems are identified.
- Fox eradication program undertaken yearly.
- 2 million litre fresh water bird pond at the cellar door in which local bird life breed during the breeding season.
- No insecticides used.
- No nitrogen based fertilisers.
- Contribute to The Aussie Bird Count, ran annually by Bird Life Australia.
Winery – Wastewater
- 200,000 litres of rainwater storage supplies the winery, cellar door and vineyard, reducing the demand from the underground aquifer.
- Winery wastewater is recycled and used on agricultural land for grazing beef cattle. We have a waste water irrigation area which reduces the waste water foot-print, with less water applied to a greater area.
Winery – Grape Marc
- Our marc is fed to the Balnaves family owned cattle who calve at the same time and thrive on the extra organic material as well as reducing methane gases.
- The marc is also used as garden mulch around the rose gardens at the cellar door.
Cellar Door – Packaging
- Balnaves of Coonawarra is in the process of moving to lighter weight bottles which reduces the weight and emissions along the supply chain.
- Returning to 12 bottle boxes to reduce packaging waste
- All bottles are recycled through the local recycling depot
- Cardboard is collected and recycled through a local recycling depot.
Vineyard – DrumMUSTER
- The DrumMUSTER program collects and recycles eligible, empty, and clean agricultural chemical containers to further reduce waste. We purchase in the largest possible volumes to minimise packaging.
- All Balnaves pump sites are remotely monitored, ensuring efficient use of water applied at optimal times, at lower temperatures, minimising evaporation and use in frost-like situations because we area at start-up closer to zero.
Vineyard – Cover Crops
- Permanent inter-row plantings in our vineyards help manage weeds to reduce the need for chemicals.
- The cover crop supports a thriving soil microbial community, adds to soil carbon, and improves nitrogen availability.
- The crops also increase biodiversity creating natural habitats for insects.
We have obtained full accreditation with Sustainable Wine Growing Australia (SWA) for both the vineyard and the winery.
- The Balnaves Family has established aphilanthropic fund to honor Annette Balnaves, one of the founders of Balnaves of Coonawarra with Stand Like Stone (www.standlikestone.com.au), a philanthropic management organisation. The purpose of the fund is to provide educational and other support in the Limestone Coast region.
- Doug Balnaves is a Life member of the Penola Pipe Band, sits on the Penola Town Square Committee, and is a member of Nature Glenelg Trust and the Nature Foundation of South Australia. He is also a Patron of the Coonawarra Vignerons and Patron of the Stand Like Stone Foundation.
- Peter Balnaves is the immediate past president of the Coonawarra Vignerons Association, Chair of the Penola National Trust, and Member of the Water Allocation Plan Committee for the Limestone Coast.
- Kirsty Balnaves is the Chair of the South Australian Wine Industry Association, on the Board of the Penola and Districts Bendigo Bank, volunteers for Meals on Wheels and is a blood donor.
- Over the last financial year, the family have donated over $23,000 to local charities and organisations. The business donates 100% of tasting fees to accredited charities with a personal or local connection, including Motor Neuron Disease South Australia, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Neil Sachse Foundation.
- The family has also supported local events and organisations including the Coonawarra Running Festival, Penola Coonawarra Music Gathering, Penola Netball and Football Clubs, the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival, the Penola Show Society, and the Penola and District Community Rodeo. We also have invested in high-capacity water tankers that assist the local country fire service in supplying refill water to fire trucks during bushfires in the region
GOVERNANCE FRAMEWORK AND STRUCTURE
- BAS remitted monthly and paid on time.
Remuneration and Employee Conditions
- All employee paid on time and with work life balance and flexibility in the workplace.
- For FY23, the Balnaves family donated;
- $17,200 to registered charities through cellar door fees.
- $4,345 in cash to events such as the vinnies CEO Sleepout, and local organisations and events
- $1,694 in bottles to local community groups.
Diversity in the Workplace
- 51% of our workforce are female, covering administration, cellar door, winery and vineyard occupations, as at July 2023