The first export shipment of bio-dynamic red wines produced by Avonmore Estate, near Elmore in the Bendigo wine region, has achieved acclaim in the Canadian market.

Our importer in the Province of British Columbia presented our Avonmore Estate 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2001 Shiraz to their local Organic and Wine Symposium in Vancouver this year.

“The Avonmore Shiraz was judged the best overall red wine and our Cabernet Sauvignon was rated the second preferred red choice of the seminar,” said Rob and Pauline Bryans, Avonmore’s owners/operators.

But they weren’t surprised at the result. “All our wines only receive minimal sulphur so they can be cellared for 5-7+ years, as we put so much care and detail in both the vineyard (we strongly believe our wines are made in the vineyard) and in our winemaking process (which has little intervention) which is traditional winemaking, open fermented tanks, hand plunging wines every 4-6 hours, basket-pressed, oak fermented for 18 months before bottling… (if you open our wines an hour or decanter prior to drinking the minimal sulphur will dissolve and be suitable to customers who have allergies to sulphur). All our grapes are cane pruned and handpicked.”

Rob Bryans said the export wines were judged against premium organic wines from Chile and South Africa which are readily available on the Canadian market.

Following the symposium success his importer immediately responded with a second and larger multi-pallet order for Avonmore wines.

“Our wines are priced in the mid to premium range, retailing between $25 – $30 per bottle on the domestic market. In Canada they sit in the “specialty market CAN$25+”.

The Avonmore Estate vineyard was founded by the Bryans family in 1996 and has grown through four plantings to a total of just over 20 acres, planted to premium red varieties including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Viognier and Sangiovese.

The vineyard and winemaking is managed according to the principles established by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Effectively this means an adherence to natural principles with grapes grown in an environmentally-friendly, eco-safe method that activates and nurtures both the soil and the vines.

No synthetic pesticides, fungicides, weedicides, fertilizers or other artificial additives are used.

Rob Bryans said that the wines were considered to have natural, more rounded flavours and to be a singular expression of both the area from which they are produced and the method of production.

Promoting bio-dynamic wine has been a great passion of both Rob and Pauline and to be able to let consumers be aware of their product, and to then explain the difference in their wines, just comes naturally.

“First, we produce a quality product. Second, it has a realistic pricepoint. We are firm believers that because it is bio-dynamic/organic it does not need to be over expensive.

“We want our wines to be enjoyed by everyone,” said Pauline.

“And we shouldn’t overlook the health benefits either. We do not use any artificial fertilizers, no chemicals, weedicides, herbicides, fungicides, or any unnecessary additives, because we do not push our vines, they are allowed to grow and develop naturally. They are low-yielding, producing small intense berries, which in turn produce fruit-driven wines.

“We recently completed our own winery and cellar door adjacent to the vineyard, which was used for the first time for the latest (2005) vintage,” said Rob.

“under the direction of winemaker Shaun Bryans we produced 47 tonnes of our own high quality grapes. With a low yield, careful management and the dry year, we consider the quality of grapes from the 2005 vintage as very high.

“We believe that having our own winery will give us the flexibility to meet the growing consumer interest in all produced products both domestically and internationally,” Shaun added.

“With both the domestic and export market being able to see our full accreditations – Certified Grade A “Demeter” Biodynamic, with the Biodynamic Research Institute, Powelltown, Victoria, for the past 17 years, we are AQIS certified also, all organizations then know we are not just claiming to be so-called organic without the backup!

And the Bryans are intent on increasing their Australian outlets. They have taken a full stand at the Sydney “Fine Wine & Spirit Expo”. This is a three-day trade show for both international and domestic markets.

Avonmore was also represented at IFOAM in Adelaide alongside “Go Organic Festival” in the Botanic Gardens (24 and 25 September).

We are working with Ausex international at present with the hope of getting our wines into the Asia market, and we have an Ausex agent who has been showcasing our wines in Thailand over the past six months.

“We also are involved with AWEC, (Australian Wine Export Council) doing promotions of our wines throughout North America, alongside our Canadian agent,” Rob said.

Since producing wine in 2001 we have had to go out and promote our wines. We have educated restaurants, wholesalers and the public.

“We do have a marketing company, Powelltown Biodynamic Marketing Company that distributes our wines, along with another ‘organic’ Melbourne-based distributer, Raw Wine & Beer who fully understands our product, “the Bryans said.