The drought in Australia fueled the fires we saw the beginning of this year. We talked with David Lowe at Lowe Wine about the drought and about bio-dynamics, a subject you know we are very interested in.
The drought in Australia
David says that the drought has been very damaging for people who were not prepared for it. We later spoke with another winemaker who explained the earlier longer drought that the country had gone through. After a short reprise they plunged into the current drought which is more severe.
Biodynamics and how it helps with drought
Droughts can be debilitating and this is a country that waffles between severe drought and flooding. David feels that he has set his vineyard on the right path over the past 20 years setting it up to be more drought resistant. Removing all the damaging pesticides and letting diverse native grasses grow have helped with ground cover and have limited pests. They don’t irrigate so the roots have dug deep.
“In fact our Shiraz roots go 5 meters deep were all planted with a shovel and a bucket of water and we’ve relied on rainfall scarce as that’s been, all the time and we’ve never lost a vine. They’re quite productive in fact they look better than most vineyards that are drip irrigated. “David Lowe, October 2019
An explanation of biodynamics
David tells us there is no recipe for bio-dynamics, it is about observation, learning when to interfere and when not to interfere. He gives us a description from his consultant on bio-dynamics, comparing Newtonian science, which is absolute and the philosophy of Goethe, who looked at the precedents and how they occurred and looked for an explanation. If he didn’t find it, it was because it was something we did not completely understand.
“So to me bio-dynamics understands and respects the precedents and what’s happened in nature over the last 5 or 7 thousand years as been mapped and tries to apply Newtonian science to it. I find it a really interesting way to do it. We’re not just looking at the sky and the cosmos and the land and saying, oh we’re all hippie about it. But there is a scientific reason it happens and we’re trying to find it. If we can’t understand it, at least appreciate, this has happened and work with it.”David Lowe, October 2019
Soils in Australia and Mudgee
We move on to discuss the soils here in Mudgee and within Australia. This is an ancient and eroded land. It is the oldest land form in the world, part of the Gondwaraland. Changes in soil here come from erosion. So the top of the hills are stony and rocky while the bottom fills with silt and loess. On the slopes, of course you get a variation. Variation makes winemakers happy.
Working with soils to make the best wines
David has tried to map the soils and work with it. There is quartz and shale with minerals. It’s well drained and that important for the grapevines, it encourages them to dig deep which promotes drought resistance and increases the quality.
“We’ve said we don’t care about what crop we get off it any year, we care that it’s the best wine possible. Because we are in control of our market, because we are in control of our all of our sales, as you see, our only sales are here, we can tell the message. People can respond to the authenticity of growing and making it and selling it onsite. That’s worked with us. Probably as an accident, but we’re not going to stop it now.”David Lowe, October 2019
More from David Lowe
We have one more conversation to share with you from our visit with David Lowe. The next one gets pretty geeky on yeasts and barrels!
We’ve written a bit on Lowe Wine
- Lowe Wine – a brief history with David Lowe
- National Zinfandel Day with an Aussie Zin from Lowe
- Lowe Wine – 2015 Nullo Mountain Riesling
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.