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Covenant Shiraz 2013 by Coe&Co wines



Coe&Co – Sustainability Story

 

Jim and Karen Coe moved from Suffolk, in England to Eurongilly, Australia, in 2001.  We had enjoyed a fantastic 8 years together in the UK, but decided Australia was the best place to bring up our young family. We sold up and moved back to where Karen’s family were located, in regional NSW, between Gundagai and Wagga.  The plan was to buy a farm, with the intention of also establishing a vineyard.

Life quickly got busy and in February 2002, we had our 2nd child in Wagga. The day after the birth, the bank manager came into the hospital and the documents were signed to buy “Cooba East Station”. In addition, on the same day, Jim also commenced a full time university course at Charles Sturt University in Wagga, studying viticulture and wine making.  Yes, you could say we could be accused of taking the all or nothing thing a bit too far!

The previous farming year at Cooba East Station, had been magnificent. The photos of the property were beautiful and the dams were all full.  The decision was made to create a vineyard using dry land irrigation, based on the knowledge that Cooba Mountain, situated in the middle of the property, would be a great source of run off water for the creeks and dams located on the property.  On the purchase of Cooba East Station, we were assured by the previous owner (ironically named Jim Coen), the water capacity of the main dam was 136 Mega Litres (ML), not being able to ascertain the true capacity of a dam after a wet season, we took his word for it!

A great deal of cost and work then went into finding the perfect location for the vineyard.  All things were considered including topography, wind, access, soil type, orientation etc.  A well know viticulturalist, came out to the property to give the final nod on the choice of location. He made the comment, “This really is desperate dirt!” This comment was absorbed with some trepidation, but as any great viticulturalist will tell you, in order to produce great quality wine, the vines have to do it a little tough…little did we know what lay ahead!

To cut a long story short…we established our vineyard during the worst period of drought this region had ever seen.  To make matters worse, as it turned out our 136megalitre dam was actually only a meagre 30megalitres (yep – not huge). We also experienced just about everything the Australian bush could throw at us including; Locust plagues, mouse plagues, horrendous frosts, spectacular dust storms that would inevitably bring with them an extraordinary amount of hairy panic (a nasty little tumble weed that gets everywhere, sticks to everything and is impossible to pick up). The wind would somehow, strategically dump the hairy panic in 6 foot masses outside the kitchen door…literally! No way in or out of the house, without a good fight with the hairy panic. Finally, not to forget the 2006 Junee bushfire, where Jim found himself stuck in a fire truck that had ground to a halt due to excessive heat…having no option he sat there with his father in law, both speechless. It was a case, of nothing could be done they just had to await their fate.  They sat and watched as the ferocious fire roared over the truck at break neck speed and continued on its incredible, yet strangely selective path of utter destruction. That day will never be forgotten, Jim and his father in law John, were given a reprieve, some, weren’t so lucky. Many local people lost a great deal. I was at home looking after six children (my 3 children and my sister’s 3), watching to see which way the wind was changing, hoping to god it wasn’t in my direction.  I can honestly say, when I went outside to check where the fire was, it felt like standing in a fan-forced oven. The heat and wind speed was incredible, the atmosphere strangely eerie and haunting.   Not a day I, or many others, would ever like to relive!

Things didn’t really change much for a number of years and Jim quickly learnt that in order to survive in the Australian bush, you had to work with what you have and also work with nature. Jim was lucky to have mentors such as Karen’s father John, who was Jim’s confidant and advisor and Jim was always encouraged by the story of Karen’s grandfather Sam, who had arrived in Australia from Northern Ireland, in 1924. He was an inspirational character and was heavily involved in pioneering the Australian bush at Weethalle. He captured his incredible farming journey over 60 years in his book, “My Hand to the Plough”, Sam Martin. 

The greatest challenge, as with many Australian farms was lack of water. This is where desperation led to ingenious thinking. Jim knew the answer lay in the Cooba Creek, despite the fact that it had barely run since purchasing the property.  He set about checking topography and land heights to analyse water flows. He took GPS measurements and checked land heights so he could set up a system throughout the property that would work naturally and allow the water to flow from place to place without requiring any mechanical assistance. Jim set about creating this sophisticated catchment system. Cooba East Station has a harvestable right of 138ML of water per annum. A catchment dam capable of holding 54ML of water was constructed on Cooba Creek in order to harvest the water entitlement, anything over the entitled amount overflows back into the Cooba Creek. This water is then transferred to the main irrigation dam via contour banks using the topography of the land to flow the water from the creek catchment dam to the front vineyard dam. This incredible resourcefulness did unfortunately, come at a great financial cost!

At the same time, Jim was always looking at other approaches to compliment the water sustainability.  For the past five years, he has been working to improve Grassy Woodlands and the area surrounding the vineyard (including placing a perpetual covenant on 360 hectares) to protect native flora and fauna and to create a unique, sustainable environment.  The Australian National University has been involved in monitoring sites within the covenanted area to measure biodiversity of flora and fauna. Each spring and autumn measurements are taken and recorded to evaluate the impact of different grazing regimes. On Cooba East Station we are also trialling complete stock exclusion, rotational grazing and grazing (6 months on, 6 months off).

Jim continued to on his path to ensure the property was working in a sustainable manner.

This also includes proactively reducing the amount of chemical sprays applied to the vines. Due to the unique topography of the vineyard, the nightly easterly breeze in combination with specifically pruned canopies, allows for greater airflow through the vines, preventing humid microclimates and therefore reducing the need for fungicides. In addition, our cattle are free to graze (at specific times of the year), the ground cover between the vines.  This acts as a management tool to reduce the need for slashing the mid rows, assisting with weed control, fire safety and also adding (fertilising) nutrients back into the soil. (Hence the reason for our wine labels being named, Leaning Cow and Covenant).

Cooba East Station has recently been awarded a farm innovation fund, to develop a solar generated power bank to run our extensive irrigation system.  This solar bank will be mobile to allow the harvesting of the suns energy for use in both the summer and winter months. This is currently under construction.

Cooba East Station has gradually been transformed from a fairly rough, dry property to a rugged beauty.  We are gradually being recognised for our sustainable approach and we recently had a group of Architecture students from the university of NSW, doing a study project, with the aim to create the ultimate sustainable business and building on the property.  The project was led by one of Australia’s most revered Architects, Glen Murcutt.

In 2015, Coe&Co Wines entered the local Wagga Wagga Business Chamber Awards, in the category for, “Excellence In Sustainability”.  We won the local awards and then also went on to become the regional Winners for, “Excellence in Sustainability”. 

Coe&Co Wines are now State finalists in the NSW Business Chamber Awards, for “Excellence In Sustainability”, to be held in Sydney on the 27th November 2015. I think we epitomise the word sustainability! We are looking forward to the event and are thrilled to have been recognised for our hard work…surviving!

Jim and Karen Coe

 

Coe&Co Covenant Shiraz 2013

Great Tasting - Sustainable wine produced by Coe&Co Wines.

Light, cool climate Shiraz - White pepper and spice.


All prices are inclusive of:

  • Packaging (Shipper, Wine Box, Wrapped Bottle, Bow, Magnet)
  • Gift Card (Black or White Design) message printed on right hand side of the card
  • Standard Delivery (3-7days) option to upgrade to Express Delivery
Price: AUD $53.64

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