Case Study: Witchmount beginning their Regenerative journey

Case Study: Witchmount beginning their Regenerative journey 1920 2560 Sectormentor

Case Study: Witchmount beginning their Regenerative journey

In early 2024, we visited Witchmount Vineyard. Located 25 minutes outside Melbourne, the vineyard is part of the Sunbury wine region and spans 6 hectares, producing six different varieties of grapes. On this visit, we learnt how Sectormentor benefits Witchmount in their aim to produce higher yields, without compromising on quality. We chatted to vineyard manager Glen Whitefield to provide some insights.

Witchmount has begun to experiment with encouraging natural eco-systems to form on the vineyard, allowing the natural ground cover of mixed grassland, such as perennial ryegrass, to form. Previously, the land was heavily sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, and they found that more dense weeds would grow in place of the previous weeds. Vineyard manager, Glen, is “hopeful that allowing these grasses to re-grow will combat the undervine growth and give rise to more beneficial insects, such as ladybirds, lacewings and parasitic wasps, to act as a method of biological pest control”. They are already seeing benefits to using more ecological practices as the yields of the vineyard have increased. 

The vineyard, early 2024.
Caterpillars are frequent visitors on the vineyard.

Sectormentor has provided Witchmount with new tools to improve the functioning of the vineyard. Previously the team used to collect and store data manually; now with Sectormentor, Glen says the convenience of having all the data in his hand at any given time is hugely beneficial:

“Being able to go out to the vineyard to do bunch counts, then return to the office with the prediction already calculated has completely revolutionised our data collection. I’ve found it really useful looking at phenology, tracking and prediction of harvest dates. With the help of the Sectormentor team, we’ve now added historical phenology data to our account. This has helped us to see past trends and prepare for this year’s harvest, which was following a similar pattern to the 2021 season. This means that we can harvest our grapes at exactly the right time. In this sense, we are already getting returns from using Sectormentor, within only a year!”

The Chardonnay harvest dates were paralleled with 2021's harvest.
The Cabernet Sauvignon harvest times were also paralleled with 2021's season.

The team are now able to see which areas require attention on the vineyard and what can be altered to achieve higher yields. The team found, through carrying out petiole tests on each of the blocks, that nitrogen levels were significantly low; now there are plans to sew white and crimson clover under the vines in a couple of blocks to increase the nitrogen. Glen elaborates:

“Sectormentor has helped guide us directly to the needs of different areas of soil as opposed to applying one type of fertiliser over all the land. Tailoring farming techniques to separate areas will, we hope, increase yield and quality.”

The team are also keen to start collecting Regen Indicator results in Sectormentor, to compare their soil health metrics with other vineyards in the region.

Witchmount Vineyard manager using Sectormentor starting a regenerative journey
Vineyard manager, Glen Whitefield.

Thank you to Glen and to Witchmount for having us on the vineyard! It was a pleasure to witness the beginning of your regenerative journey and to see the ways Sectormentor is supporting you on your way!