Wines and climate adaptation – Climate Smart Agriculture Mission to Australia

CDFA science advisor Dr. Amrith Gunasekara at Casella Family  Brands winery in New South Wales.

CDFA science advisor Dr. Amrith Gunasekara (left) at Casella Family Brands winery in New South Wales.

New South Wales: Our trip to Australia included a trip near the village of of Yenda, for a tour with the irrigation, energy and wastewater management team for Casella Family Brands, the owners of Yellow Tail and Peter Lehmann wines, among other labels. Yellow Tail was launched in the USA in 2001 and quickly surpassed all initial projections to become one of the world’s most recognized wines.

The family-owned winery is a leader in adopting technology in the vineyards and its processing facility. All irrigation pumps are linked by radio and cellular phone for scheduling by computer. Soil moisture probes feed into the information system every 15 minutes along with a network of weather station data. The integrated data management system requires fewer pumping hours–a 25-30 percent savings of energy use- brings reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,  and it saves money! The computer system from Australia’s Right Energy Solutions was a capital investment with a fifteen-month payback!

This warehouse contains 15, million cases of Yellow Tail wines, about a months supply for customers around the world.

This warehouse contains 1.5 million cases of Yellow Tail wines, about a month’s supply for customers around the world.

Recycling is a key part of this company’s culture. Raw wastewater from the winery is recycled and reused, and rainwater is reclaimed. All cardboard, plastic, oak and glass are recycled. Pomace and other solid waste from the crush are used in the extensive composting yard for the vineyards.

The winery is on the same location where John Casella’s parents started their farming venture after leaving Sicily in 1957. The original winery – a tin shack- and the family home are still there. Another amazing story of a farm family that never gave up!

We traveled back to Canberra through countryside that is mostly grazing and grain production. The wide open spaces reminded me of western Nebraska but the rolling pastures definitely could have been Amador or Calaveras county!

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