Our family history in the Barossa dates back to the 1870’s, in that time there has been a lot of environmental change much of it due to an increasing population and farming practices. In this time we have also seen great improvements in technology, and a far greater awareness of how to minimise environmental impact and correct the mistakes of past generations.
At Thorn-Clarke we have every intention of ensuring our children and the next six generations inherit a healthy, environmentally sound and sustainable wine business.
Responsible Water Use
Australia is known as the driest continent in the world, and we in South Australia are the driest state in the country. For this reason responsible water use and water preservation is extremely important, at Thorn-Clarke we do all we can to ensure that we don’t use more than required. Whilst the vineyards need a drink like the rest of us, we don’t use more than required.
Throughout our vineyards we have fitted ‘moisture probes’ these monitor the soil moisture levels, only when soil is very low in moisture and the vines in real need of water during the summer months do we give them a drink.
This policy not only conserves water but also ensures that berry size of grapes is small, flavours more concentrated, and the resulting wine is of better quality – it’s a win win situation!
Controlling soil erosion is another issue which is important in farming areas, our planting of trees and maintaining cover crops all year round ensures that we inhibit the runoff of top soils. This has a two tier effect in that we retain fertile top soils which are vital in the growth of healthy vines and we also avoid clogging of local waterways, whereby allowing natural flow.
Since the mid 80’s we have engaged in an extensive tree planting program. We now estimate that we have planted over 10,000 trees on our properties. Included in this is a purpose planted woodlot which is used to assist in waste water management.
Winery Waste Water
In building our winery we included a water treatment facility to ensure that any water used could be clarified before returning it into the environment. Once clarified this water is sent to our woodlot where it aids in the growing of trees and also filters through the ground to our bores. Our bore water is then used in irrigating our vineyards.
The healthy woodlot assists in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and also provides a home for birds and native wildlife.
The winery, and more specifically our barrel shed, is used to catch rain water which runs off to a 280,000 litre water tank. This water is then used in the winemaking process.
Another significant project is a program we are carrying out in association with the North Para River Catchment Board. The North Para River is a key water course in the Barossa and flows through our property at Angaston. Over the years, exotic deciduous trees have grown in numbers through the water course. The spread has been encouraged by livestock feeding and moving along the banks of the river. The deciduous trees inhibit the growth of native gum trees and drop their leaves into the water discolouring it and having a negative effect on the ecosystem. We have removed livestock from around the river, taken out any ‘introduced’ tree species and planted more natives species. Our aim is to return this water course to a pristine example of native vegetation.