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David Bruer - Farmer (South Australia)

“Should we address global warming? We have no bloody future if we don’t. I worry very much about my children. I just wonder what their future is.”

I’d always been interested in farming, but the winemaking came about because of a job I got. I’m a chemist by training but when I graduated there was a recession and I couldn’t get a job. I decided to get some teaching qualifications and ended up at an agricultural college teaching young winemakers chemistry. I gradually got more involved in the wine industry; one thing led to another and my wife and I built a winery.

We bought the original 40 hectare property in Langhorne Creek in 1972, which is where the Temple Bruer winery is. We’ve got three vineyards now. There’s 26 hectares on a second property at Eden Valley and eight hectares on a third property at Loxton.

We grow mainly reds, particularly Cabernets, Merlots and Shiraz. We market all over the world, with 70 per cent sold domestically at most liquor stores. Our wines are all certified organic and vegan-friendly. Since 2011, we’ve been carbon-neutral. More importantly, we intend to get to carbon-neutral in our own right - without buying carbon credits - by 2018.

We are absolutely on the coal face of climate change. Extreme weather events are getting more frequent and they’re getting more severe. Hot days are getting hotter and cold days are getting colder.

In January last year we had a maximum temperature of 49.3 degrees. It was about three degrees higher than the highest maximum recorded. Two years ago we had our first frost for the year on April 5th. It killed half a dozen vines of Fronti. I was so peeved about it, because we’d done work to train them. They were just bowled over.

Although one-day events really belt us around the head, what’s more insidious is gradual warmth shifting our vintage forward, from autumn into the summer. Vintage is advancing by almost a day every year Australia-wide. It makes it much harder to pick grapes at their best; the ripening peak gets much sharper.

The Barossa Valley winemakers reckon they have a maximum 25 years left of Barossa Valley Shiraz as we know it. Don’t you think we ought to bloody well do something about this?

We’ve pulled out some varieties which are obviously knackered. We pulled out Riesling two years ago. What can we do? We’re very much between a rock and a hard place.

We’ve planted some heat-resistant varieties, one called Montepulciano and another called Saperavi, but we’ve got marketing problems in converting people from the taste of Shiraz to Montepulciano. How do we deal with that?

Should we address global warming? We have no bloody future if we don’t. I worry very much about my children. I just wonder what their future is.



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