Based in Orange, NSW, Aquire member Ross Hill founded their multi award winning winery in 1994. But more recently, they have been making a name for themselves by successfully balancing environmental responsibility with good business practice, becoming Australia’s first certified carbon neutral winery.
James Robson joined the family business in 2006, and has given us an insight into the motivation and impact behind this move.
What inspired your decision to break away from the industry and move towards a carbon neutral model for your winery?
In our family business we believe it is very important to have as little an impact on the Earth as possible, it is also a great way to save on energy costs.
You started in 1994 as a traditional winery, how difficult was the transition to your current level of sustainability?
The Ross Hill Vineyard was founded in 1994 and after the initial years of trial and error sustainable vineyard practices were introduced. These included no use of Pesticides or Insecticides, reducing water usage by 75% and no fertilisers used. In 2008 we converted an old apple packing shed into a winery, it was here that wild yeast fermentation was introduced. In 2011 we put 34KW of solar panel on the roof and then two years later were NCOS (National Carbon Offset Standard) Certified Carbon Neutral. At times it was very daunting, but the whole process has been very rewarding and it is also saving us a lot of money.
Have you noticed a difference in the response to your product from the public as a result?
Being Certified Carbon Neutral has had a very positive response from our customers, initially our social media sites lit up. The most rewarding part though is that when you explain to people that you want to have the least imprint on the Earth as possible people love it. The trick is to be certified.
Has there been any unexpected benefits to your business as a result of becoming a more sustainable producer?
Absolutely, our power bill has gone down 60% and our sales from direct customers has increased. We are starting to see interest from our business customers as well. It also gives us a great point of difference from our competitors.
You use a range of initiatives to keep your business carbon neutral, do you have any suggestions that your fellow Aquire members can implement?
The first point is to get an energy audit done, quite often there are grants to help with the costs of this. If your business suits renewable it is a fantastic source of cheap energy. If you want to work towards Certified Carbon Neutrality get consultation. We used Pangolin Associates, another Certified Carbon Neutral business and Aquire member who specialises in energy management.
Learn more about Ross Hill on their official website.
If you are looking to enhance your sustainability efforts, our environmental sustainability program Qantas Future Planet is an innovative carbon offset partnership that allows our business partners to responsibly and actively boost their sustainability efforts. For more details contact us.
Start an audit to see where your business can cut down on emissions and energy costs. Aquire has options for plans that earn Aquire Points, so talk to Aquire energy partners Simply Energy and Madison about your business’ consumption and saving options.