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Kiltynane Estate, Australia – Kate Kirkhope

February 11, 2012

I first became familiar with the concept of Biodynamic Agriculture during my son’s years at a Rudolf Steiner school. I went home from this with a renewed understanding of the importance of biodiversity both in the soil and in the atmosphere and the balancing of energies.

In 1999 I decided to plant my Pinot Noir vineyard due to my passion for fine Burgundies and knowing the history of some of the finest biodynamic Burgundies. I followed a similar concept here at Kiltynane, planting only Pinot Noir, close planted to encourage deep rooting and to minimize per vine yield. I then went over to France to learn the traditional natural way of making wine, using small handpicked ferments and wild indigenous yeasts.

This in turn answers why one would do things this way. I want to be an artisan of wine making – to procure the true character of pinot noir grown on this site without outside influences.

It has been difficult as I didn’t have an outside income, except for the small takings from a B & B cottage on the estate. Things had to progress incrementally. The upshot of this is that in tough times, we are able to go with the swings and make the most of the ups to invest in things that are needed on the “wish list”. This has meant a “sustainable business and also a sustainable property.”

Fire Ravaged Vineyard

In 2009 we were caught up in the Black Saturday fires. Here they swept through as a raging grass fire, flying through the paddocks and vineyard. My partner Sean and I fought the fire off the main house, cottage and shedding where all the wine making and animals were protected. The rest of the year was spent reinstating the infrastructure of the property and vineyard. Luckily the vines, being resilient and healthy, have grown back.

Vineyard Re-growth

We love our work, and pity those who don’t have the benefit of working outdoors in the early light or sitting outside under the trees at the end of a long day with a glass of fine wine and a story to tell. It can be exhausting but the effort is worthwhile. Along the way, we have proven that sustainable agriculture is truly sustainable as the self perpetuating cycles one sets up in one’s ecosystem so vastly reduce the human inputs required. I’d love to and am hoping to consult to companies and people to help them reduce their dependence on expensive chemicals and unnecessary procedures, to help them reinvigorate their ecosystems to make better quality, higher value added product.




From → Interviews

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