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Reaping rewards: Steve and Monique Lubiana in their biodynamic vineyard last year. It took the couple 12 years to turn a dream into a working winery.

TASMANIA HAS ANOTHER first in its wine industry. Stephanie Timotheou talks with a couple who have taken 12 years to achieve their dream of being a biodynamic winery.

Tasmania is legendary for its innovation in agriculture but a vineyard at Granton has recorded a first for the industry there by going biodynamic.

Steve and Monique Lubiana have this year bottled their first biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc.

Although it took them a very long 12 years – with many pitfalls along the way – the Lubianas are now officially the state’s only certified biodynamic wine producers.

To celebrate, they have also launched a biodynamic food and wine interpretive centre to complement their tasting and dining facility, which will open in December.

As Tasmania’s first producer of biodynamic wines, Monique hopes other vineyards and wineries will follow their lead.

She said part of her and her husband’s dream is for the whole state to become biodynamic in all areas of produce including wine, poultry, fruit, vegetables and nuts.

“I truly believe it is a way forward and I hope as many people as possible jump on-board,” Monique said.

“In our mind, the one way to achieve quality is by being biodynamic – I know there will be people who disagree with us but if you want the best quality, you simply have to use the right ingredients.”

The Lubiana’s have owned the property for 23 years and initially purchased it as a green field site.

Their first vines were planted in 1991 and now their vineyard spreads across 25ha.

SLOW START

Monique said she always had the desire to be biodynamic, however certain things stopped her during the business’ early stages.

“We always wanted to do it but back then we didn’t have the hands-on experience, therefore we were a little fearful,” she said.

“We had somebody inspect the property to see if it was suitable for the operation and we received negative feedback which put us off the idea.

“Twelve years passed and the idea started to stir again so we got a second opinion and it turned out our property was fine all along.”

She added timing, budget and finance also delayed their plans however the situation couldn’t have turned out better.

“We have always been in love with the environment and we continually want to see it prosper.

“We’re only scratching the surface – there is so much more we would love to do and it is just the beginning.”

The interpretive centre which is open to the public provides visitors with valuable resources and information on biodynamics.

“We are really trying to make it easy for people to understand the importance of biodynamic produce and in the future we intend to host conferences and small gatherings to give others the confidence and incentive to become biodynamic,” Monique said.

According to her, becoming a certified biodynamic producer is a lengthy process which takes a minimum of three years.

“It is important you mow between the vines rather than spray to eliminate herbicides and avoid using fungicides, sulphur and copper from the ground,” she said.

“Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to risk anything – we eliminated everything we could, built up our systems and then got our certification after 12 years of hard work and dedication.

“We already had a relatively healthy vineyard to start with so we were really lucky in that regard.”

OFFICIAL CERTIFICATION

Lubiana Wines received its certification through Australian Certified Organic (ACO) which offers support services to companies new to the biodynamic and organic industry.

Monique said when in doubt, she contacts ACO to find out whether or not certain materials can be used on the vineyard.

“It’s a matter of following the rules and standards of ACO and they provide excellent support – they guide you and help you achieve your goal,” Monique said.

“If you need to know whether or not you can use a certain type of copper, you can ring them and they will advise you.”

According to Monique, having a biodynamic vineyard has brought uncommon wildlife to the area including native hens, rabbits, hares and small and large birds of different species.

“We are beginning to see more and more wildlife and things we haven’t seen before,” Monique said.

“Nature is a beautiful thing and as long as they don’t become pests, we encourage them to visit and make use of the area.”

Australian wine journalist Max Allen, who writes for Red, White and Green Biodynamics in Australian Vineyards said many Australian vinters who have turned biodynamic have not only seen an increased amount of wildlife on their property, but have also seen a great improvement in their soil and vines.

VICTORIAN VINEYARDS

“Lethbridge Estate Vineyards in Geelong is biodynamic and claims his vines are now healthier and more resistant to disease due to thicker leaves and grape skins,” he said.

“Sorrenberg Vineyard in Beechworth has also been composting and using biodynamic preparations since 2000 and has seen a measurable increase in the organic matter in his soil.”

Monique agreed and said she has seen a great improvement in the ground and immunity of the vines.

In addition to having a biodynamic vineyard and winery, Monique is a devoted consumer of organic fruit, vegetables and dairy products.

She also grows organic vegetables which will be used at Lubiana Wines’ up-and-coming eatery.

Monique added being biodynamic is the way of the future, as the younger generation is becoming more aware of organic produce and its benefits.

“Being biodynamic has been our philosophy for a while and we are really lucky our dream meets a lot of other people’s requirements,” Monique said.

“The younger generation is much more aware of organics and are always looking for the better option to look after themselves and the environment.

“They are not settling for second best anymore and are nurturing their soul rather than their bank balance which is a really good thing.”

Contact: Monique Lubiana. Phone: (03) 6263 7457. Email: monique@slw.com.au

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