Like many wine drinkers, I always thought Angove Family Winemakers produced low cost wine from large, industrial scale vineyards. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered on a recent visit to their McLaren Vale vineyard, that they see organic viticulture as the future. Is this the tipping point that pushes Australian organic wine into the mainstream?
If you want one piece of evidence that organic wine is leaving it’s place on the edges and moving into the mainstream in Australia then all you have to do is look at Angove Family Winemakers.
Angove Family Winemakers are one of Australia’s oldest and largest family owned wine producers. Most of Angove’s commercial success has come from years of producing wines in the $15 and under category from grapes grown in the Riverland region.
But in recent years, the current generation of Angoves – the fabulous Victoria and her brother Richard – have been pushing the company towards organic. And on a recent tour to their McLaren Vale vineyards, which they purchased in 2008 (and which are already 100% organic), the passion for organics amongst key members of the company was palpable.
Angove currently have 172 acres of organic vineyard spread across their 850 acres of Riverland and McLaren Vale vineyards with an additional 62 Acres in conversion and plans to begin conversion of another 74 Acres in 2014.That makes them the largest organic wine growers in the country.
Victoria Angove is clear that their change of direction towards organic stems from a realisation that not only does organic viticulture produce the best grapes, but it also ensures that the land is cared for and retained for use by future generations.
Organic enthusiasts rapturously proclaim that sustainable viticulture and organic management of the vineyards produces vines with better balance, fruit concentration and overall vineyard biodiversity and health. An argument that Angove have taken to heart.
So if that’s true, why isn’t everyone ‘going organic’? In short, cost. Organic viticulture is significantly more expensive. Apparently, weed management is the biggest challenge and this is done by mechanical and hand removal which is both labour and cost intensive. Pest management and general vineyard maintenance is also higher in cost.
Despite the increased costs, Angove are still able to produce a range of very drinkable and flavour packed organic wines at only RRP $16.00, making them some of the best value organic wines in the country.
Currently available are the:
- Angove Organic Chardonnay
- Angove Organic Sauvignon Blanc
- Angove Organic Merlot
- Angove Organic Shiraz Cabernet
Plus, their flagship Organic wine, the Angove Wild Olive Shiraz which retails at the bargain price of $20, and was launched during our day at the vineyard. (You can read the fabulous review here.)
More than individual elements, it’s the holistic approach that makes organic viticulture different from its conventional counterpart. Throughout the day in McLaren Vale there was much talk about the whole system being linked – soil, plants, animals, food, people and environment. And therefore a decision in one area will have consequences for the whole vineyard system.
And that includes the wine drinker. Reduced use of chemicals can only be good for our own health, yes? I for one am hugely excited to see that a large company like Angove are going organic. And they’re still able to produce great value wine while doing so. Hopefully, their actions will influence other large wine producers to follow suit – making organic wine the new norm.
Jane was a guest of Angove Family Winemakers at their McLaren Vale Vineyard.