Jackson Family Wines
Yangarra Estate's Biodynamic Vineyards Illustrate Kinship Between Healthy Soil and Exceptional Wines.
By Sarah Doyle
As the only certified organic and biodynamic vineyard in the Jackson Family Wines portfolio, Yangarra Estate in South Australia’s McLaren Vale region illustrates the close kinship between healthy soil and exceptional wines.
In 2008, Yangarra’s winegrowing team began focusing on long-term solutions to address vineyard health rather than quick-fix chemical sprays. They wanted to understand why certain issues were cropping up so they could be addressed holistically. All synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers were removed. Compost was introduced. Cover crops were planted. And a diverse range of beneficial insects, flora, and fauna were allowed to thrive. Pests were contained using predatory insects, which provided better pollination in the spring. And disease was controlled through sulfur, copper, and seaweed foliage sprays.
“Our goal in becoming biodynamic was primarily to improve the health of our soil so we could create wines that truly reflect the place they’re grown,” says Yangarra Winemaker Peter Fraser. “We believe biodynamic farming allows us to create a healthy environment for the vines so the fruit can express the vitality of its surroundings.”
Biodynamic agriculture views the vineyard as a holistic living organism. In other words, everything is connected and works in symbiosis. While some consider biodynamics to be a somewhat “spiritual” practice (read Wine Folly’s guide here), Peter says Yangarra’s biodynamic approach is “very practical.” Traditional farming techniques are combined with current viticultural technology to allow the winery to work on a larger, more efficient scale.
“Biodynamic farming forces us to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one,” says Peter. “But we do believe there is a special energy that occurs when we implement biodynamic practices—one that we can’t really quantify or explain.”