Organics in the vineyard
All of our Vineyards are fully certified BioGro organic.
Under BioGro rules, the sprays we use have to be approved. Organic sprays sit on the surface of the leaf only and protect the plant from the outside. Under conventional non-organic viticulture the sprays are absorbed into the leaf and protect the plant from the inside, much like antibiotics. We choose to grow organically to keep our wines free of harmful residues.
At Fromm we place a lot of attention on our soil structure and build it up using organic methods. All grape marc (seeds, stems, skins) and organic vineyard matter, goes into our well managed compost heap. The compost is built on a pad of compacted clay that is sloped to allow leachate to collect. The leachate is all the good nutrients and bacteria from the compost that we dilute with rainwater collected from the winery roof and spray either on the land or back on to the compost heap. The compost itself is spread over the vineyard in autumn as fertiliser.
Animals and gardens are integrated into the Fromm philosophy. Cows, chickens and sheep provide meat and eggs for staff and their families, as well as manure and eggshells for our compost. A plot of stinging nettles provides potassium for yellowing vines, valerian tea helps protect against frost and the hollow stems of the Jerusalem artichoke are used to aerate the compost. Observation and problem-solving is part of the Fromm culture, whether it is trialling a plot of horseradish to foil grass grub beetle flying in spring, or providing grape pickers with prams to stop dirty bins coming into the winery.
Good simple ideas and an integrated approach across the whole vineyard gives us healthy land and allows us to work with the environment to grow quality grapes.
Although the drippers are left in place in case of a very dry year, we have not used irrigation on the older vines since 2004. At Fromm over 60% of our vines survive with no irrigation and we estimate we save 9.5 million litres of water per year by encouraging our vines to draw the moisture from the soil. This means the fruit is getting its flavour from the land and gives each single vineyard a sense of place.
As well as saving water and the power needed to pump it, the vines produce better fruit with riper flavours and tannins – the vines shut down naturally in autumn which stops green flavours coming through.