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Martins Hill Wines, Australia – Michael Sweeney and Janette Kenworthy

February 22, 2012

Michael and Jan

Our vines were planted in 1985.  The vineyard is substantially worked by hand, and the vines are carefully hand pruned and the grapes handpicked.

Our organic practice includes the integration of fine wool Merino sheep in the vineyards during six months of the year.

The Sheep

Our vineyard’s Carbon footprint is neutral. This has been achieved with electricity provided by a massive Solar Array producing 4.2 Kw. Grid connected. All hot water is generated by the latest evacuated tube technology, and the business vehicle is a Hybrid Electric. Twenty percent of the property has been permanently planted with native species, and regeneration has also occurred, this negates other emissions such as diesel use in the vineyard.

As our native plantings have matured, we now have the company of reptiles, Echidnas, wombats and a large number of birds species, even an occasional Sea Eagle. The Dollar birds arrive faithfully each October for their breeding session. We experience visits from Grey Thrush and Blue Wrens each day, accompanied by the melodious songs of the Rufous Whistlers and rough calls of the Wattle Birds.

An Echidna

Grevillias are adorned by Spinebills and other Honeyeaters, while the many Finches…Red-Browed, Double-Barred, Zebras and come in for breakfast each day to a hopper of millet seed. All this with the usual Wag- tails, Magpie Larks, Magpies and Kookaburras. A family of White Winged Choughs have built their amazing mud bowl nest high in a Eucalypt tree, these birds help us with insect pest control. Many other species visit often, including Eagles and other predating birds. It is always exciting to see a new visitor which sends us quickly to the Bird Book!

Of course there are also the shy Kangaroos which mostly visit at night, and seek water from the River or the sheep troughs, and also some fresh green grass under the vines.

During a “normal” season, the water bird life is abundant on the bordering Cudgegong River … together with frogs, tortoises, and we have observed Platypus and Water Rats at times when taking “time out” to enjoy our place. The chorus of the frogs at night in spring is Nature’s music, so are the replies of their friends which hide in herb pots, and verandah bearers in our home environment.


At Martins Hill we have decided not to use screw caps and never will.

Cork has been wine closure since the beginning of wine itself. It is a natural product sustainably harvested from the bark of the Cork tree, and as such is a sequester of atmospheric Carbon. Compare this to aluminium screw caps. In a box of wine there are 70 grams of the metal, rarely if any recycled, which takes about 2.5 KG of coal to produce, and hence is a heavy emitter of Carbon.

It is true that in some cases the cork may transfer a “taint” to the wine, which sends many wine writers and critics into a frenzy of support for screw caps. These aluminium caps, with their embedded plastic inner seal, totally smother the wine not allowing it to breath and mature naturally.

As a further matter of interest, aluminium screw caps are almost absent from the shelves of European bottle shops, on both reds and whites.

So, “Keep on popping!”




From → Interviews

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