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Thursday 18 January 2018

Family-owned Coonawarra vineyard marks organic milestone

For over 100 years the Reschke family have been living on their Koonara property in the heart of Coonawarra. 

The current family residents are Dru and Nicole Reschke with their two daughters Lucy and Alice.

After 10 years of conversion, Koonara Wines are the first vineyards in Coonawarra to be certified to Australian Organic Standards.

Coonawarra is renowned as one of Australia’s finest wine regions and is particularly known for producing world-class red wines, especially cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. 

The region's secret lies in a marriage of rich red terra rossa soil, limestone, pure underground water and a long, cool ripening season for the grapes. 

The Koonara wines are made by industry veteran Peter Douglas (formerly of Wynn's Coonawarra Estate). Both Koonara’s Coonawarra and Mount Gambier vineyards practice organic viticulture, and Coonawarra is certified organic.

All of Koonara’s red wines are aged in 100% fine-grain French oak hogshead barrels and the premium wines all contain no residual sugar, below organic levels of sulphur and a vegan friendly. 

Reschke said even though they have been practising organic viticulture for over 10 years, it was great to finally receive official certification earlier this month.

“We have not used any pesticides or herbicides in our Coonawarra vineyards for over a decade, as it can rob the soil of nearly all the good micro-fungi,” he said. “The vineyard is like our bodies; get the nutrition right and it stays healthy and disease pressure drops, and so the number of sprays needed drop as well. 

“Our aim was to increase organic material into our soil. Only 1% extra organic matter in the soil will hold an extra 177,000 litres of water per hectare, which is why we find weeds actually help, not hinder the vines.

“The root systems of weeds are usually no more than 30cm deep, when they die off at the start of summer their roots provide organic straws for oxygen and water to get deeper into the soil, which aids the vines.” 

Insects also play an important role in Koonara’s biodiversity plan. 

“We have identified five wasp and three spider varieties, and even a scorpion fly, which are all completely harmless. These insects larvae feed on our vineyard pests such as vine moth – and many of those so-called weeds are also a food source for them.” 

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