It is McWilliam's Wines commitment to promote healthier consumption patterns of wine by all consumers, to enhance the social responsibility of the wine sector and to take every measure possible to ensure wine is always enjoyed in moderation. It's this same commitment we apply to caring for our environment and community.
McWilliam's Wines is committed to minimising any detrimental effects to the environment through its activities, and where feasible, contributing to environment improvement. To this end, McWilliam's Wines is committed to ensuring compliance with all relevant environmental legislation and codes of practice and has established as a corporate objective the achievement of continuous improvement in environmental practice.
In 2008, McWilliam's Wines environmental initiatives were recognised when its Hilltops vineyard in New South Wales was awarded the Harden Murrumburrah Landcare Award Award for development of environmentally sensitive viticultural practices.
McWilliam's Wines received a GREEN rating in Greenpeace's inaugural 2009 Australia Pacific Guide to Alcoholic Drinks. The guide rates food and beverage companies according to their policies and actions to exclude ingredients derived from genetically engineered (GE) products.
Over the last four years, McWilliam's Wines has invested resources into educating its growers and vineyard partners about environmentally responsible practices. This program has resulted in better soil management and analysis and more efficient water use.
A highlight of McWilliam's Wines environmental initiatives is the planting and cultivation of selected grasses between rows in the vineyards. This practice has seen a good reduction in soil erosion and increase in water retention. Mulching and the planting of vegetation within and around vineyard properties have also resulted in soil enrichment and restoration and erosion minimisation.
Composts are used at the McWilliam's Hanwood Estate site to reduce the need for synthetic aids and to increase organic matter under the vines.
Inter-row management of slash and drop allows for the accumulation of debris above the ground and stimulation of the root mass below the surface to actively increase soil nutrition levels and also carbon sequestration.
This program of soil enrichment and erosion minimisation was recognised when the McWilliam's Wines Hilltops vineyard in New South Wales was awarded the Harden Murrumburrah Landcare Award for development of environmentally sensitive viticultural practices.
McWilliam's Wines worked closely with the Australian Government's CSIRO organisation to develop Tyrian, a grape varietal especially bred to suit the warmer Australian climate and requiring 10 percent less water than other mainstream varietals. McWilliam's Wines planted a small test block of the varietal in 1995 and today has more than 50 hectares in full production.
McWilliam's Wines has also converted its vineyard supplementary water system to a drip system, which ensures supplied water is well targeted to the vine and maximises water usage.
All supplementary water, via drip, is monitored via capacitance probes to ensure no excess water is passed beyond the root zone to potentially enter the water table. This ensures higher water use efficiencies and minimises any rise in the water table.
McWilliam's Wines is an active participant in the New South Wales Government's Sustainability Advantage Program. This initiative brings likeminded businesses together to develop a sustainability roadmap, including goals and plans to deliver them.
McWilliam's Wines is a participant in a benchmarking program being developed by South Australian company, Provisor. The new program, will allow participants to input data relating to their water and energy usage, benchmark themselves against similarly sized wineries and identify areas for improvement.
Continuing its dedication to quality, McWilliam's Wines is transitioning to retail-ready packaging as well as eliminating dividers from many of its shippers to reduce waste. It is also trialling new packaging initiatives to further reduce weight and waste.
In 2009, the winery launched Australia's first widely available Sparkling wine featuring Zork, an innovative new Sparkling wine closure which is 100 percent recyclable.
McWilliam's Wines has also converted a significant portion of its 187ml bottles from glass to the lighter-weight, recyclable PET packaging.
Integrated within McWilliam's Wines New Product Development quality program criteria include assessment of recyclability of packaging materials, use of recycled content in packaging materials and opportunities to reduce weight.
McWilliam's Wines has embraced and encouraged a number of impactful recycling initiatives:
- Shippers used in the supply of packaging components are passed on to another supplier for reuse in second hand cartons
- Shrink wrap plastic off bottle pallets is baled and recycled
- Broken glass is segregated into colours and managed via recycling streams
All waste water is carefully treated and recycled where possible.