A Clean Slate
Southbrook acquired these vineyards in 2004. We chose the location because the soil was perfect for the Bordeaux varieties we wished to cultivate. Better still, it had lain fallow for decades, thereby offering the clean slate we’d hoped for. In the decades since we moved the winery from Richmond Hill to its current location in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we have proven that biodynamic, organic, and green initiatives can work in an Ontario vineyard.
If these examples serve to inspire others to make a commitment for themselves, then we are very happy, as their ripples will motivate more people as well.
Organics: Less is More
Organic agriculture uses natural inputs. It uses less water, less energy, no synthetic pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, no bioengineering, and no genetic modification. Organic agriculture results in more biodiversity, conserves more water, and improves soil health. Southbrook’s first 75 acres were certified in 2008. As of 2010, our entire 150 acre property is certified organic and biodynamic.
Biodynamics: Taking it to the Next Level
Organic certification is a pre-requisite for biodynamic certification. Biodynamics (BD) emphasizes the balance and interrelationship of a farm’s soil, plants and animals to grow low-impact, vibrant crops, including grapes. It treats the whole farm as a single living entity. BD involves the use of specially prepared composts, the addition of ingredients such as herbal teas, and the alignment of farming activities with lunar energy.
Demeter is the international body that oversees biodynamic agriculture. Southbrook currently has one Demeter-certified biodynamic 75-acre vineyard (2008), plus an additional 75-acre property with full biodynamic status.
We are committed to producing our table wines and Icewines from grapes grown in Ontario. Our fruit wines are made from all-Ontario fruit also. The VQA logo or appellation on the label is your guarantee as VQA always means 100% Ontario grapes.
Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario
Wine Country Ontario has developed best-practice guidelines in a program called Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario. It covers aspects from viticulture and waste water management on the farm to efficient energy usage in all winery operations. Southbrook has achieved the requirements of this “from soil to shelf” program to support the industry’s efforts to help sustain Ontario’s success on the world stage.
Sustainable Wine Roundtable
A global collaborative platform to advance sustainability across the wine industry from production to retail. The only independent, multistakeholder roundtable with 70+ members.
In 2008, Southbrook was granted Certified Organic status under the Canadian Organic Regime (COR). Both grapes and wine are certified. We are now certified organic by ECOCERT. Using no synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides nurtures our soils rather than depleting them. We encourage biodiversity on our estate, rather than trying to destroy it.
Southbrook is Canada’s first winery to have its vineyard certified by Demeter, the international body that oversees biodynamic agriculture. Rather than dabble in a few biodynamic practices, we have committed ourselves to the full certification process. We have gone to unprecedented lengths in the Canadian wine industry to demonstrate to the undecided that biodynamics can be successful in our cool climate.