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Inkwell receives Regenerative Organic Certified designation

By Nola James

24 Jan, 2024

Australian winemakers are invited to apply for a new ‘shiraz hacking’ program after Inkwell Wines is recognised for ethical and sustainable agricultural practices.

McLaren Vale’s Inkwell Wines has been awarded Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) designation, the first in Australia and one of 20 vineyards recognised globally. 

Founded in 2017, ROC has certified over two million hectares across all types of agriculture in over 20 countries to date and is the benchmark certification for regenerative organic agriculture worldwide. Under the ethos of “farm like the world depends on it”, producers must meet strict conditions around soil health, animal welfare and social fairness for ROC certification, which is overseen by the non-profit Regenerative Organic Alliance.

Irina Santiago-Brown and Dudley BrownDr Irina Santiago-Brown and Dudley Brown.

Inkwell has been producing minimal intervention single vineyard wines at its estate winery since 2004. Owners Dr. Irina Santiago-Brown and her husband Dudley Brown have transformed the site of a former sand mine into a world-class regenerative, organic and sustainable vineyard property that’s home to a hotel made from shipping containers and runs on renewable energy and reclaimed water. 

Irina, Inkwell’s head winemaker and viticulturist, is an industry leader in sustainable winegrowing, with the world’s first PhD in the subject. She authored the Sustainable Australia Winegrowing system, a national program where member wineries and vineyards receive training in improved environmental practices in exchange for certification via third-party audit (although unlike organic and biodynamic certification, there are no forbidden products and systems, wrote Cassandra Charlick in her recent Halliday article on shopping sustainably). 

“The ROC certification system is the most rigorous and well-conceived system for certifying the highest level sustainable agricultural practice in the world,” Dr. Irina said in a statement. “Inkwell’s certification is the most significant milestone for truly sustainable viticulture achieved in Australia so far. Our hope is that many Australian vineyards and farms follow this pathway to become more resilient in a changing climate.” 

Inkwell vineyardIrina and Dudley are giving away one tonne each of their first ROC-certified shiraz grapes to five Australian winemakers.

In celebration of the milestone, Dudley and Irina at Inkwell will give away one tonne each of their first ROC-certified shiraz grapes to five Australian winemakers (although they will have to come and help pick the fruit). 

The project, titled ‘Hacking the Future of Shiraz @ Inkwell’ will team a select group of early career winemakers making distinctive and interesting wine with a diverse group of judges from Australia and overseas led by wine writer Mike Bennie, a member of the Halliday Tasting Team. 

“The idea that a diverse array of up-and-coming winemakers will be able to assist in a cultural revitalisation of such a vaunted variety from this region feels relevant for our time,” Mike said of the project. 

Inkwell plans to run the initiative for vintages 2024, 2025 and 2026, with winemakers splitting the profits from their endeavours. “Our goal is to lift up the future of shiraz and regenerative wine farming together,” Irina says. Participating winemakers will receive individual feedback from judges on their wines, which will be sold in mixed six packs. 

Winemakers from anywhere in Australia are encouraged to apply, with more information available here. More quickly though – nominations close February 2, 2024.

Image credit: Wine Australia.