The Right Blend for a Sustainable Future

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sydney Morning Herald 20/9/20

Matt Burton says Gundog Estate is determined to meet its promise of a positive social and environmental impact.

A boutique winery is giving back to the community, while setting its sights on becoming a carbon neutral business.

Wine and sustainability might seem like a pairing best suited for charity galas. But in reality, sustainability and agricultural business go hand in hand.

This is what Matt Burton realised when he established Gundog Estate in 2011. It became apparent to him that sustainability was a huge part of being a successful wine producer.

“Social, environmental and economic sustainability is a core philosophy at Gundog Estate,” says Burton. “We made the conscious decision, as individuals and as an agricultural business, to try and have a positive impact … and we have really embraced that challenge we set for ourselves.”

Gundog Estate is a boutique producer of premium semillon, riesling and shiraz, sourcing fruit from vineyards in the Hunter Valley, Hilltops and Canberra regions.

On the social sustainability front, Gundog Estate has partnered with Newcastle-based not-for-profit Path 2 Change, whose mission is to service gaps in the welfare system.

“Path 2 Change are helping disadvantaged young people break the cycle of homelessness by helping their clients secure employment,” says Burton. “When we host events for our members, we donate a percentage of sales to Path 2 Change … and we see tangible results, whether it is buying a client a new pair of shoes for their job interview or an Opal card so they can get to a TAFE course.

“Last year, we initiated a work experience program, where Path 2 Change clients come into the cellar door for hospitality training. Whether it be behind the wine tasting bar or in the cafe area, they gain valuable realworld skills.”

He adds: “I believe everyone wants to contribute to society in one way or another and be independent, and this is our way of making that possible for them.”

On the environmental sustainability front, Gundog Estate is undertaking a natural regeneration project at the family farm in Gundaroo.

“The property was previously used for sheep grazing, so we are working on re-establishing the natural flora and fauna,” explains Burton.

“The partnership we have with 15 Trees has also provided a range of environmental sustainability opportunities. We plant a tree for everyone who joins our wine club, buy 10 trees for each staff member at the end of every year, and also encourage members and customers to buy trees as they purchase our wine.

‘All of this contributes to the many rehabilitation sites 15 Trees has across the country.”

Gundog Estate is also shifting to organic management of the vineyard, and working towards becoming a carbon neutral business by the end of 2020.

When it comes to economic sustainability, Burton feels it is an issue that can easily be overlooked, when it is often imperative in driving the other two sustainability pillars.

“Sustainability is circular,’’ he says. ‘‘You can’t have one element without the other. If you don’t have the funds, resources or culture to chase environmental and social sustainability, you’re at a loss.

“Our approach to business aims to combine sustainable long-term growth with positive outcomes for the community, environment and business stakeholders alike. This is why we look to longer term horizons rather than focusing on short-term profitability.

“Keeping sustainability at the core of our business has delivered so many positive outcomes, and continues to drive our team’s creativity and productivity, ensuring we are doing what we can for generations to come.”