Director

Richard will be speaking in Session 4. Roadmap for a sustainable industry. Click here to see more.

Abstract

Sustainability programs and practices are now common (if not expected) across all agricultural industries. The Australian Wine Industry is no different with development of the SWA program aimed at increasing our knowledge of, and improving the industries environmental impact.
The climatic and economic challenges facing the wine industry are well known with some impacting growers now including, erratic rainfall patterns, increased input costs and labour shortages. Others like rising temperatures and extreme weather events are becoming more common place. Coupled with this is a consumer becoming more knowledgeable about the environmental footprint of products they purchase and a global push to reduce carbon emissions placing increasing pressure on producers to not only evolve their farming systems but make them more transparent.
Regenerative agriculture has been touted as the ecological farming system of the future. At its core it appears to be a simplistic set of principles however it underpins a paradigm shift in land management thinking and the way production systems interact with the environment around them. Wine is uniquely placed with a direct line to the consumer to showcase its environmental credentials, but is sustaining what we currently have going to be enough? Regenerative agriculture has a land restoration agenda at its core that may be the next step in sustainability for the Australian wine industry.

Biography

Richard Leask is a second-generation winegrower based in McLaren Vale, South Australia, with twenty-six years’ experience in various Australian wine regions. Presently, he is at the helm of Leask Agri, a vineyard management company focusing on regenerative agriculture principles over family-owned and client vineyards totalling 180ha. He is co-owner of boutique wine label Hither and Yon with a strong focus on climate adaptive varieties. Richard has been a passionate advocate of biological and regenerative farming for over a decade and is one of the founding chapter authors of the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program. He is a 2017 graduate of Wine Australia’s Future Leaders Program. In 2019 he was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship to study regenerative agriculture systems across farming enterprises globally. In 2021 he was a finalist in the ASVO Viticulturist of the Year Award and is a founding trustee of the Regenerative Viticulture Foundation.