May 10, 2013 – Being called “green” or “sustainable” are not words that Bill Redelmeier likes to use to describe Southbrook Vineyards, despite the fact that both words are quite apt. He and his wife Marilyn have owned the winery since 1991 and have recently won the 2012 InterVin International Wine Awards highest honour – Winery of the Year, for its innovative growing practices and fantastic product.
Redelmeier doesn’t like to describe his operation using words such as “sustainable” because they have no standard definition, which can lead to greenwashing – where environmentally friendly words are used to deceive the consumer into the belief that a company’s aims or policies are more ecologically aware than they actually are.
“When we started out, we set out to make the best wine possible,” says Redelmeier. From the winery’s move to Niagra in 2005, the Redelmeier’s knew that they wanted to be holistic and self-sustaining, which lead them to pursue biodynamic growing practices. In September 2008, Southbrook was certified organic and biodynamic by Demeter International (http://www.demeter.net/), the first Canadian winery to do so, and officially began operations.
“We don’t talk about anything unless it is certifiable or provable,” he adds.
The process of biodynamic agriculture is simple, says Redelmeier. “It is based on the way people used to farm 100 years ago. So we plant, we harvest, we make wine using phases of the moon. The sprays we use in the vineyard are herbal teas. We run ruminants in the vineyard because that’s important.”
“Biodynamics is really all about treating the vineyard or farm as a single, living entity. The least input you can put in to the ground, the better.”
In addition to farming biodynamically, Redelmeier tries to keep as much of his purchasing in Canada as he can. For example, some of the winery’s bottles are made from reclaimed glass from Saxco International (http://www.saxco.com/), the clothing company Forsyth (https://www.careerapparel.ca/logon.do) makes the employee uniforms and they offer local farmers a market for their organic grapes. “I’m asking people to pay a little bit more – not a huge amount, but a little-bit more – to buy local wine, and I can’t in good conscience ask someone to pay a little bit more to buy local if I don’t do the same thing.”
“If we all get together and pay a little bit more, then the whole world – or certainly our world – is a better place to be.”
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