Friday, 25 December 2015

Meet a winemaker doing his best for the environment

He's a climate-change activist, an equal opportunities advocate and committed environmentalist - all of which play a role in the organic wines produced by David Bruer at his Langhorne Creek winery in South Australia.

The CEO and co-founder of organic wine producer Temple Bruer insists all his employees take environmental stewardship as seriously as they do their grape farming and wine production.



For committed eco warrior Bruer, making good wine goes hand in hand with trying to create a better planet.

Founded in 1980, Temple Bruer was one of the first organic producers in the country – and Bruer himself one of the key players in the formation of Organic Vignerons Australia. Today he grows grapes not only at Langhorne Creek but also in Eden Valley and at Loxton in the Riverland.

From early on Temple Bruer adopted certified organic grape and wine production to protect the health of consumers, the company's employees, the wider community and environment,” Bruer says.

To further improve the sustainability of the company and our products, several stages of carefully considered re-vegetation has been undertaken, all of which have been in line with the Angas River Catchment Revegetation guidelines.


Our aim is to improve species diversity, protect endangered species, provide a habitat for native fauna and create a carbon sink for some of the company's carbon emissions.”

Bruer sees organics playing an ever-increasing role.

A bright, clear sustainable agricultural future demands that no synthetic chemicals should be used at any stage of the grape growing, and later winemaking, processes,” he says.

This can be done and is done, with yields comparable to the district average, at least at Langhorne Creek.

Nutrients are supplied in part by compost, but also by growing cover crops of legumes and cereals, the former for nitrogen and the latter for organic matter.”


To be certified organic, wine must be made from organic grapes such that no synthetic chemicals are used at any stage of the grape growing or winemaking process. Only natural sprays are used in the Temple Bruer vineyards.

True to his principles, both Bruer's winemakers are women: Vanessa Altmann and Verity Stanistreet.

Our big thing is triple sustainability,” Bruer says. “Financial stability is pretty obvious, we have to be able to pay our bills on time and to be making a profit – I make no apologies for being a Green capitalist.

We also look to be agronomically sustainable, which is pretty much a given, and to be socially sustainable. We have been, from day one, an equal opportunity employer, but it is more than that – it is about measuring job satisfaction. That may be an unrealistic expectation but we want our employees to be as happy as possible.

Where possible I try to change either the reality, or the expectations. Sexism doesn't exist here. I've fired an employee for bullying a female workmate and everyone knows exactly why. I don't expect to have a problem like that again.

And when it comes to wine making, I don't see that you need a penis to do the job. It just isn't an essential part of the role. I care more about the palate than the sex of a winemaker.”

Bruer says he is seeing a huge lift in interest in preservative-free wines, but less passion about organic wines.

From our point of view we find organic wines taste better. But for most consumers there are 10 key criteria. Number one is value for money. Number two is value for money. Number three is value for money ….

Some kind of organic or biodynamic credential can be of interest for consumers but for me natural methods of maintaining soil fertility confer better balance in the grapes grown.

This makes the wine making easier, so that less handling is needed in the winery, therefore the natural berry flavour is preserved.”

Among Bruer's environmental tactics have been using lightweight bottles, which also saves on transport costs, cutting out air freight, generating green power, shifting from freon-based refrigeration to ammonia, re-vegetating more land and increasing soil carbon sequestration by reducing or eliminating cultivation.

All white wine grapes are harvested at night; we want the grapes to be as cool as possible because we are trying to minimise our refrigeration demand,” Bruer says. 

He's constantly thinking about ways to stay in business without damaging the planet.


For details see: www.templebruer.com.au 

# This an edited version of a story that originally appeared in Nourish magazine. www.naturalhealthmag.com.au/nourish 

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