Valuing our Water
At Humis VIneyard we are fortunate to be located along the Waranga Western Irrigation Channel, a channel that winds its way from the Waranga Basin close to Shepparton to west of Boort in the Victoria's Mallee. Although we have water security we by no means take that water for granted. Each year we run minimal irrigation cycles according to data we collect from onsite weather stations, we focus on vine transpiration, soil moisture at depths down to 900 mm and varietal nuance. We use 100% drip irrigation, encourage soil moisture retention with the use of undervine cover crops and regularly spread straw (grown onsite), manure and compost.
Irrigation is scheduled for nights to avoid loss by evaporation, the irrigation pump runs system management software that interacts with water pressure and system status to ensure the most efficient use of diesel.
Adapting to a changing climate
Even in the short history of Humis Vineyard we have noticed the impact of climate change on not only our vineyard but the Heathcote region. Harvest dates are changing, some varieties are doing better than others, rain can't be relied on and on it goes.
We have responded to this challenge by focusing on irrigation efficiency, modifying our irrigation cycles to respond to heatwaves, vineyard floor management that will increase our soil's ability to retain moisture and deal with heat and the introduction of alternative varieties and compatible rootstocks that are better suited to the new paradigm.
New plantings of Rhone varietals such as Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul and Marsanne have been chosen for their ability to deal with heat and use of moisture. Future plantings of Sangiovese and Mataro follow this strategy.
90% of the vineyard is planted in an east west orientation which allows for a cooler canopy, greater shading and minimal sunburn.
In the vineyard we have adopted a steel trellising system with all CCA treated timber posts to be gradually replaced with steel. Over the past 10 years we have purchased some 30,000 recycled steel trellis posts from decommissioned vineyards in Victoria and New South Wales.
All grape marc from the winery is now being composted onsite with all cropping residues being either turned back into the soil or cut for straw to mulch under the vines.
In the winery we are focusing on efficiencies in our supply chain by changing over to light weight bottles that will weigh 70% less in weight compared to our previous bottles. This in turn will save on fossil fuels used in shipping. Cardboard packaging will not be printed on and be made from 80% recycled board. All packaging (tapes, pallet wraps, pallets) to be verified as recycled and/or biodegradable.
The winery is well insulated, orientated for reduced afternoon sun and produces minimal waste water. Further additions to the winery scheduled for 2022 will use innovative products to reduce concrete content in flooring and installation of a 15kw solar system will offset winery cooling energy use.
Landcare and Biodiversity
Since purchasing the vacant paddock in 2010 which is now Humis Vineyard we have planted over 2,500 trees and shrubs that are indigenous to the area (not to mention some 50,000 vines, 40 fruit trees and the odd ornamental). The first plantings were as shelter belts along side the original Shiraz and Carmenere blocks, in the following years we have noticed indigenous grasses re-establishing themselves, and an increase in bird and insect species. Over the past two years we have been adding to these plantings with flora that will attract beneficial insects to the vineyard. We have a thriving native wasp population and three permanent beehives in Grey Box hollows.
In time we hope to establish native grasses in our mid rows as a part of our cover cropping program.
In the vineyard we have reduced yearly herbicide use by 85% with the introduction of permanent undervine cover crops. This has increased our soils ability to retain moisture and, in time, will boost soil carbon levels. Each year in spring we do a worm count, at the moment we're sitting on 5-8 worms per shovel load of soil! Living soils make us happy.
We are all about growing our region and will always source local trades, suppliers and skills above all else.