Local winery recognised in top 50 vineyards

Lake Moodemere Estate has been picked in Australia’s Vineyard of the Year Awards for 2021. Pictured is vineyard and farm manager Joel Chambers who is thrilled with the recognition.

By Adrienne Hartnett

Lake Moodemere Estate has proven to be the pick of the bunch after being recognised in the Young Gun of Wine Top 50 Vineyard of the Year Awards for 2021.

With over 6000 growers to choose from, the judges narrowed the field to the 50 that best exemplified the values of sustainability, innovation and growing great wine.

To judge the awards, a group of leading experts on viticulture were enlisted to personally review all the applicants. Dr Catherine Kidman, Mark Walpole, Dr Mary Retallack and Lee Haselgrove joined Max Allen in arriving at a very exciting top 50.

“In the vineyard is where the magic happens!” awards panellist Dr Mary Retallack said.

“This is our opportunity to celebrate the innovative and regenerative approaches being taken to produce exceptional grape quality, which is reflected in stunning wines while nurturing the soil, vines and landscapes with an ecological focus.

“Consumers are increasingly interested to learn about ways we are demonstrating environmental stewardship. We are well placed to share these insights and stories with our customers – the proof is in the bottle. The VOTY finalists are leading the way and the future of wine growing is truly exciting!”

Situated on the banks of the Murray River, Lake Moodemere Estate is owned and operated by sixth generation winemakers Michael and Belinda Chambers and their sons Harry and Joel.

The estate encompasses a single vineyard as well as a heritage listed cellar door and restaurant, waterfront accommodation overlooking Lake Moodemere, and a 1,000-acre farm producing prime lambs and broad acre crop.

Estate farm and vineyard manager Joel Chambers said it was nice to be recognised among some more prominent wineries across Australia.

“It’s great to be recognised as a small vineyard and shows we are competitive with the larger ones,” he said.

“It’s the reassurance that we are on the right track and what we are doing is relevant and catching the eye of people in the industry.”

Joel said while there wasn’t any feedback on what factors pulled the vineyard over the line, the Estate’s commitment to environmentally friendly winemaking would have caught the eye of the judges.

“The fact that we are a farm and vineyard is pretty unique. The integration we are doing with our sheep operation and cell grazing is probably not something you would see at other vineyards,” he said.

The winery recently received a Sustainable Winegrowing Australia Certification, a first in North East Victoria, and one of only ten vineyards recognised in Victoria.

“The idea become certified for sustainability popped up during the first lockdown in 2020,” Joel said.

“We went down the sustainability path because we found we were already compliant with that. It’s been a lot of trial and error. I started the cell grazing back in 2018 during a drought and I noticed how beneficial it was to graze through the vineyard. It was also really beneficial to our weed management and suppression.

That lead onto carbon capture which I read about in AWRI (The Australian Wine Research Institute). If we can prove we are capturing carbon back into the soil; it will really help us on our road to net zero carbon emission wine. It’s something that we hope to achieve in the next 10-15 years.”

Joel said the entire Moodemere team was thrilled to be recognised as a top 50 vineyard in Australia.

“I think it’s fantastic not only for us but the entire Rutherglen wine region,” he said.

“We want to see Rutherglen on the map and on metropolitan people’s minds showing that we are out here doing some pretty cool stuff and matching it with the Yarra Valley, Barossa and McLaren Vale.”

The Vineyard of the Year Awards were created in 2020 to place vineyards across the nation at the heart of the Australian wine story, and the heart of the Australian wine community.

Beside celebrating the achievements of 2021’s top 50, there are four other trophies to be awarded, including Winemaker of the Year with the winners announced in February 2022.