The Rutherglen wine region's commitment to sustainability remains strong despite the present COVID-19 challenges.
Winemakers of Rutherglen's 19 member businesses have been working through the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program, which began in July 2019 and is overseen by The Australian Wine Research Institute.
The institute's manager for sustainability and viticulture, Mardi Longbottom, said four planned trips to Rutherglen had to be cancelled because of restrictions but replacement Zoom sessions had been well supported.
Dr Longbottom said the program helped winegrowers assess factors such as their water and electricity use and compare themselves to others in the industry.
"It really gives them tools for managing their production and resource use," she said.
"Those who become certified, they also have that ability to really communicate with a lot of confidence about their credentials.
"A lot of this is being driven by consumers who want to know, how is my produce being made?"
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Winemakers of Rutherglen executive officer Annalee Nolan said a Landcare grant had assisted the focus on sustainable farming and wine making.
"Because the wineries are steeped in history, there are processes that have been in place forever for a lot of these," she said.
"So it's a fresh set of eyes, running the ruler over everything, and going, 'OK, where do we need to be? Where do we want the planet to be in the future? What are the things that we're doing today that are going to impact on that and how do we get there?'
"Just starting the conversation, information sharing, getting them focused on their future decision making is very important."
Ms Nolan said some wineries such as Lake Moodemere Estate, now certified, Stanton & Killeen and Scion were highly engaged while others were taking advice and starting to plan.
"So they're all on different stages of the journey, but importantly, we're on it," she said.
Dr Longbottom said Victorian membership in the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program had increased significantly in the past year and she commended Rutherglen's progress.
"It's been a really positive thing, we've worked with them to really put together a concrete vision for the region, about where they want to take this," she said.
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