Natural 'Surround' clay sunscreen for our grapes

Hot, dry, boiling.  All words we use to describe the weather here in beautiful South Australia… including the Barossa during summer. We love this time of year, where we enjoy long days and balmy evenings, but do our vines?

As the custodians of fine wine, it is our sworn duty to serve and protect our vines so that we can deliver premium wine to your door.  Located in the Eden Valley, Brockenchack Vineyard is cool climate, however we can still be thrown challenges by mother nature and as such, we come prepared!

Using our knowledge gained from over ten vintages, our family has worked tirelessly to protect our vines and to ensure we continue to produce quality grapes and ultimately, quality wine.  No different to how we look after our family’s wellbeing during the hot summer months, we do the same for our vines, focussing on hydration, sunscreen and nutrition.

Like we keep our bodies hydrated during the hot weather, we work on perfecting the irrigation of our vineyard. We have gone to great lengths to ensure our vines have the water they need to stay hydrated and beat the heat.  We installed a desalination plant a few years ago to remove the salt from our bore water, and then we pump this clean water back into the dam. This water then feeds our vines.  We run this desalination plant on solar power to ensure we are both efficient and environmentally friendly, and through these initiatives, we are able to maintain an optimum level of water distribution across the vineyard, and we drip-feed our water via irrigation.

We also apply sunscreen to our vines.  Yes, that’s right!  As temperatures soar and UV levels increase, it’s imperative we protect our vineyard.  On the Brockenchack property, we hand-apply an all natural clay product called ‘surround clay’ on the vines, leaves and grapes which we deem are at risk of being affected by the sun and heat. This clay acts as a natural sunscreen and not only protects from the impact of sunburn and heat stress, it also keeps our vines five degrees cooler during hot spells.  It’s genius!  We then simply wash it off with water at harvest time.

Lastly, we appreciate that all organisms need nutrients to survive, and providing the right vitamins and minerals for optimal growth and strength is critical. The mulch we lovingly feed our vines helps improve soil moisture retention, suppresses weeds, and reduces topsoil temperature variation and erosion – all of which helps us maintain healthy vines.

So, while mother nature has thrown us some challenges this year, rest assured we are confident that vintage 2019 will deliver for us. Being well-prepared for the unpredictability of our sometimes-harsh climate, combined with the love and care we put into the land, will no doubt result in some award-winning wines.