A group of progressive winegrape growers from the Barossa visited the Riverland last week to learn about collaborative farming and other vineyard innovations from local producers. Hosted by Riverland Lending Service the group of six spent a day touring different vineyards, learning about the experiences of the Proud family at Sherwood Estates and the Liebich family at Liebich Family Vineyards.
The morning started with a presentation by Brett Proud about the history of Sherwood Estates and the process involved in becoming a collaborative farm. He explained how their business structure enables constant review of production efficiencies, which delivers regular upgrades in equipment and technology to maximise output. He also noted how the model provided flexibility in the management of human resources to adjust to the changing needs of the business.
The group then viewed several of the Proud vineyards where they heard about a tailor made spray and plant nutrition program that has been developed with industry leaders such as plant pathologist Peter Magarey and research agronomist, Shane Phillips, to enhance the production of best quality grapes, using low environmental impact chemicals.
The afternoon was spent at Cadell where the visitors learned about the Liebich experience of collaborative farming, which involves seven sites along the Murray River stretching from Cadell to Waikerie. After viewing several vineyards, including some where hailstorm damage devastated the 2017 vintage, the group finished the day overlooking the Murray and sharing their observations about what they had gained from the visit.
The tour provided a valuable opportunity for growers from the two regions to share ideas and insights. It also highlighted the innovative approaches to business models and vineyard technology being developed and implemented in the Riverland.