Tahbilk, on the banks of the of the Goulburn River in north-east Victoria, is one of the few vineyards in Australia to be certified as fully carbon neutral.

Key points:

  • The winery offsets 97 per cent of its emissions without buying carbon credits
  • Since 2008 it has reduced emissions by 45 per cent through carbon auditing
  • Various technologies, including solar, are being used at the winery

The operation near Nagambie, where Hayley Purbrick’s family has been making wine for five generations, offsets all the carbon dioxide it creates. 

The winery’s journey to becoming carbon neutral began in 1998, when trees were planted to revegetate the property, and in 2008 it undertook its first carbon audit to start looking at ways to lower its carbon footprint.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” Ms Purbrick said.

Over the past decade, the business has reduced carbon emissions by 45 per cent by using solar power, revegetating areas and using heat-reflective paint on its restaurant roof.

A smiling woman in a dark waistcoat stands behind a large bar.

Hayley Purbrick has helped her family’s winery reduce emissions by 45 per cent.(ABC Rural: Annie Brown)

“They use it on rocket ships,” Ms Purbrick said.

“It’s a tin, round roof and it was just creating so much internal heat in summer, we had put in three gigantic air-conditioning units to keep it cool.

“When we didn’t have them on we had customers struggling with heat stress — it was like an immediate impact on the comfort as soon as we put the paint  on.

A winery as seen from above.

The 1,214-hectare property fronts an 11-kilometre stretch of the Goulburn River.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

‘Extremely close’ to naturally neutral

Despite all of the technological development and environmental projects, Tahbilk still has to purchase credits to be carbon neutral.

But the business is not far off from being able to offset all of its carbon naturally.

A young man cuddles a black border collie.

Lachie Thomas said he wanted to work at the winery after hearing Ms Purbrick speak on a podcast.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

Lachie Thomas started working at Tahbilk after hearing about its environmental practices and is now its environment and vineyard research analyst — an uncommon role for a winery.

“The winery industry is taking a good front foot on the fight for climate change, so I hope in the future it becomes a lot more common for wineries to employ people who look at the environment.”

Mr Thomas’s job is to look at the annual carbon audits and find ways to sequester the carbon the business emits.

A small boat at the ready on the edge of a river.

Tahbilk winery has revegetated 120 hectares of land on the property.(ABC Rural: Annie Brown)

He says the business is “extremely close” to not having to buy carbon credits to offset its emissions.

“[About] 120 hectares of land has been revegetated, so it allows us to capture just under 2,500 tonnes of CO2 into the soils in the property here, which is just short of the amount that we are responsible for emitting,” Mr Thomas said.

A vineyard in lush green countryside.

Tahbilk is best known for its Marsanne variety of wine. (ABC Rural: Annie Brown)

‘All the rage in 2021’

Ms Purbrick said accreditations and standards were new when Tahbilk had its first audit in 2008.

But Nick Watts, the technical manager at Auckland-based Taito Envirocare, which certified the business as carbon neutral, said more businesses were getting on board.

“Carbon is kind of a new space — it’s all the rage in 2021,” he said.

“It’s kind of only come in the mainstream in the last few years — all of a sudden household names were coming on board wanting to get measured.

“We could be looking at a future where we see carbon numbers on most products on the shelves, like a nutritional label.

Historic winery set to be carbon neutral without offsets in less than five years
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