I missed a call from a mate the other day because I was spraying our vineyard and was dressed up in all the gear. I sent him this pic and he wrote back ‘Organic wine. Natty bro’. Got me thinking.

I’ve always been a bit wary of posting photos when I’m spraying the vineyard so not to scare people off but really we just need to get educated about it all. Just because what we are doing in our vineyard is organic it doesn’t mean that you can breathe the shit in.

Nick Dugmore Spraying protective clothing at Vineyard

Vineyard growth

It’s been a crazy start to the season for growers. Too much 10/10/24 going on. That’s 10mm of rain where the temperature remains over 10 degrees for 24 hours or more. The sunshine and warmth is just not coming. The rain hasn’t stopped and disease pressure is really high.

I panicked and bolted to the island last week because downy mildew is everywhere in McLaren Vale. Some growers in the Hills can’t get their tractors through the vines because it’s too boggy and the chemicals used to treat it are being sold out the day they arrive.

Stoke Wines Vineyard Sprayer

Stoke Wines Vineyard Sprayer

The chemicals used to treat it, Metalaxyl and Phos acid, are not organic, or maybe some are but who knows how. But a vineyard and a business need to be financially sustainable in order for the operators to keep keeping on. If we were to lose our crop to something like downy it would destroy us and I’d have to get a real job. Fuck that. 

Stoke Wines Vineyard Shed at Dusk

We spray sulphur mainly for powdery mildew and copper for downy mildew. Copper is an inorganic fungicide, a heavy metal that doesn’t break down like organic fungicides do. Long term exposure is poor on your health and s
hort term effects can be nausea, vomiting, and a headache. That could also be the wine consumed in the shed the night before.

However, the copper fungicide is accepted as an organic product due to the extremely minute amounts that are commonly used in viticulture. Rest assured, this does not transfer through the fruit to your wine in any way.

So I'm dressed like Darth Vader because we’re too poor to have a tractor with a cab and I don’t want to die of something lame like liver disease. I want to be eaten by a shark big wave surfing or dive on a bomb in a primary school.

Stoke Vineyard Tractor

Stoke Wines Vineyard

Our vineyard has very low disease pressure and we are downy free for now. The overall aim is to farm as organically as we possibly can, but the priority focus is on regenerative agriculture and sustainability. To do that, means we need to make a living and we need to sustain ourselves first and foremost.

Don’t judge me for caring about myself, it's 2022 for crying out loud. Gone are the days of being a real man. I moisturise every morning. Come at me.

Good luck to all growers out there. Stay safe and keep that quality fruit coming in.

Yours, Duggie.