A Walk with William Bruce, of Wily Trout
Situated less than ten minutes across the border into New South Wales is a beautiful country property which is the home of William Bruce. The property is also a vineyard and the location of Poachers Pantry, a traditional smokehouse with a restaurant.
Will is the vineyard and farm manager of the property, he makes sure everything runs as smoothly as possible among the grapes.
After a walk through some of the recently planted rows of Riesling and Sangiovese, I sat down with Will to talk more about the ways he has been modernising the business.
Q: How long have you been managing the vineyard?
A: I started managing the vineyard in 2015, that was the first full year of taking over from my father.
Q: How big is the vineyard?
A: The vineyard is 20 hectares so just under 50 acres and it was all planted in 1998 and 1999 by my father.
Q: And how much wine does that produce?
A: We produce on average about 130 tonne of grape. We keep 40 tonne for ourselves and we sell the remainder to other local winemakers.
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Q: There has been a rise in sustainable practices lately in a number of different industries, can you tell me about what you’ve been doing in that aspect?
A: The main one is we’ve stopped the use of herbicides in our vineyard; which are mainly used to control the grass underneath the vines. So this year we imported a German mower out of Europe which mows the grass underneath the vines and that’s part of being sustainable, stop the use of glyphosate. There’s a big push from the consumer end but also personally I don’t want to be handling these chemicals or having my staff in these environments so that’s the main drive for it.
Q: Is that common in Australian wine making at the moment?
A: Yeah, it’s becoming more and more common and its being driven by consumers. Also, because we sell grapes to other winemakers they’re looking for sustainable grapes grown without the use of herbicides. We’ve also taken our vineyard to be managed organically as well so we only use essentially copper and sulphur which are organic elements which can be used in organic production.
Q: I’ve noticed a few solar panels around the farm too, can you tell me a bit about them?
A: We’ve got a 120 kilowatt system that’s all fed into the grid and we are producing about 80% of our power now and that mainly compensates for the smokehouse which has a huge energy demand with large coolrooms running all the time.
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Poachers generates about 80% of its electrical needs, here is a 1/3rd of our system waiting to get to work. Come on sunshine! . . . #canberrawines #cbr #canberralife #yassvalley #visitcanberra #countrylife #visitnsw #southerntablelands #yass #tourismaustralia #wearecanberra #restaurantaustralia #visityassvalley #destinationnsw #paddocktoplate #harvesttotable #eatlocal #canberrarestaurants #farmfresh #knowyourfarmer #wheretoeat #wheretovisit #seeaustralia #seasons #localscan #lovewhereyoulive #homeiswhereyouare #thisiscanberra
Q: As water becomes a rarer resource in the future, how do you see practices changing?
A: It’s just about becoming more efficient. So looking at like automated irrigation systems and maintaining moisture in the vineyards. Now we don’t spray up and have bare dirt underneath our vines, we’ve got grass which holds moisture in as well. With automated irrigation systems we can do more watering at night so the water is going directly in and being soaked up by the vines, as opposed to being lost to evaporation. So it’s just through efficiencies we can adapt.
Q: Where do you see the Canberra wine industry heading in the future?
A: Canberra is just getting stronger and stronger. We’re really lucky that we’ve got 400,000 people on our doorstep so I think you’ll see a drive for a lot of vineyards to be sustainable. You’ll see a lot going down the organic path and Canberra is just going to keep growing. We’re in a good position, good climate here, we’ve got a really good customer base close by that can support us.