The drought has major effects on farming on all fronts and Avondale is no exception to this.
However through foresight and respect for our natural resources we are currently having minimal detrimental consequences.
One of the huge results of farming according to organic and Biodynamic principles is that you build your soils natural water holding capacity through Humus creation, this in turn helps tremendously with the vineyards capacity to be more resilient in tough times like we are experiencing.
When it comes to actual water usage both on the farm and within the cellar we have always respected this precious resource and therefore introduced and developed systems to make the most of our water.
These systems include:
Cover crops – We make use of a diverse cover cropping system that is mowed down to act as a mulch and prevent excesses water evaporation during the hot summers and also contributes towards our Humus creation.
Irrigation – An integral part of our Eco-system design is that we are able to irrigate the vineyards using gravity instead of pumps. A sophisticated moisture probe system (sends the status of the vines, every 15 min) in the vineyard soils enables us to gauge the needs of the vines so that we irrigate sensitively, and only when necessary to avert undue stress during Paarl’s hot, dry Summers.
Whole-system approach – An important part of maintaining the integrity of Avondale’s water system and ensuring its sustainability is the management of water in and from the cellar. The wine production area presents challenges such as over-using water as well as water pollution from the grape juice itself and cleaning agents. We knew we would have to find solutions to these challenges if we wanted to manage our whole water system properly.
Interesting enough this was recently verified by an external audit which illustrated that we only use 25 to 30% of what other similar sized cellars use!
Water conservation – Avondale controls the use of water and prevents wasting water in the cellar with a system of automatic shut-off valves on all taps. We also save water and reduce waste water by making use of sterilising UV lights to supplement the cleaning of tanks and barrels.
Waste Water System – In our cellar we only use cleaning agents that meet organic standards; they are readily biodegradable and free of harmful residues. However, waste water from the cellar is also concentrated with grape residues which would pollute the environment if introduced back without treatment. The conventional treatment of waste water from a production facility often includes chemical additives and aeration systems that use electricity. Avondale was determined to devise a waste water system that mimicked the way Nature cleans water. After extensive research, we implemented a system of three dams interlinked by spiraling channels of cleansing reeds that replicates a natural river system.
The idea is to respect the resource, utilise it very scientifically, minimise waste and whatever waste we have recycle to be able to reuse on the farm.