At Hollydene Estate there are many measures in place from the paddocks right through to the cellar door to ensure the business minimises its impact on the environment.
In the Wybong vineyard throughout the winter a flock of Dorper/Merino sheep graze the grass and weeds between the rows of grapevines which minimises the use of herbicides. It also significantly minimises the time tractors are needed to slash the rows, therefore reducing diesel.
In the paddocks Hollydene fodder crops such as oats and sorghum are direct-drilled which negates the need for ploughing. This in turn decreases soil erosion and eliminates the need for phosphates.
On a smaller scale, the use of ‘Chook Tractors’, where about eight chooks have travelled up and down Arrowfield Vineyard’s rows in two ‘tractors’, have provided a way to eliminate weeds and also provide manure as fertiliser. Naturally the chooks’ eggs are used in the kitchen of Vines Restaurant.
The grapevines that supply Hollydene Estate wines are run as part of a larger farm which also includes cattle, sheep, alpacas, free range geese and domestic pigs. The integrated system provides alpaca fibre which is spun and knitted into scarves for Cellar Door staff, as well as prime lamb and suckling pork for the staff and their families.
Interestingly all kitchen waste from Vines Restaurant at Hollydene Estate is collected and fed to the lucky pigs who also occasionally have access to the grass in the vineyard, free-ranging with the sheep.
In today’s environment of recycling packaging, Hollydene Estate and Vines Restaurant use many products that are delivered in cardboard boxes. Plus, thousands of glass bottles go through the Cellar Door in order to keep up the wine supply.
These are all collected into their respective recycle bins and picked up by local recyclers. All cardboard, paper and glass is recycled and to close the recycling circle, Hollydene Winery and Vines Restaurant use recycled wine cartons, dividers and packaging, as well as recycled paper for menus and stationery.
Where possible, all furniture and timber work used in the buildings Restaurant and Cellar Door is constructed from recycled timbers. Hollydene even has its own Lucas Mill for recycling timber.
The main timbers inside the building are recycled from the old convict Bowman’s Bridge that once crossed the Hunter River, while turpentine timber salvaged from piers on Goat Island Sydney Harbour has been incorporated into a feature above the bar.
The Wybong Winery building is constructed from relocated 1838 convict sandstone prison as well as recycled timbers from Dalgety’s Wool Sheds in Sydney and Huon Pine shingles, and even the boundary fences are made with recycled timber from the posts in the old and removed vineyards so that nothing is wasted.
In the bathrooms at Hollydene Estate there are automatic taps to limit water wastage and Hollydene also uses recycled toilet paper as another measure of looking after the environment.
Speaking of water, like any good country resident Hollydene Estate and all its properties including Wybong, Hollydene and Arrowfield farms use rainwater.
This includes the main Hollydene facility at Jerry’s Plains, a huge catchment area which encompasses the main building and warehouse, so when it does actually rain, harvesting a lot of water is possible.
There are 10 homes spread across the properties and all have independent rain water tanks, filtration and collection.
Hollydene has invested in a high-standard of landscaping which has resulted in low water usage thanks to drought-tolerant native plants, subsurface drip lines, water monitors and timer-controlled, moisture-sensitive systems reducing water demand.
There are eight substantial dams across the three properties which range from 10 megalitres to 100Ml which provide refuge and wetlands for a wide range of birdlife and fauna including black swans, water hens, pelicans, ducks and wild geese. They also house fresh fish stocks of Perch and crayfish.
Hollydene has worked closely with the Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and Local Land Services (LLS) in the remediation and rejuvenation of Wybong Creek which bisects the Hollydene property and bounds the Wybong property. Wybong Creek is a major tributary to the Hunter River.
Over the past nine years some 5000 Red Gum, Casuarina and Box trees have been planted in a fenced riparian zone. An eradication program has been run to rid the area of noxious weeds like box thorn, Paterson's curse and blackberry, as well as pests such as foxes, rabbits, wild dogs and feral cats.
Such works, in conjunction with similar efforts from neighbouring Mangoola Mine, has resulted in the creek sporting Bass, platypus and eels, while marsupials including wombats echidna, wallabies, frill-neck lizards and goannas now habit the river banks.
Hollydene has made a significant investment in renewable energy.
The company uses solar energy to pump water to stock troughs and in 2014 introduced solar-powered vineyard irrigation at the Wybong Vineyard. Wybong is now 60% solar energy efficient with the goal of making that 100% by 2015.
At the main Hollydene facility at Jerry’s Plains, solar power is used for all main entry and road lighting, for the fountains, in the dams and even the opening and closing of the free-range hen house door.
Plans are afoot for using solar power throughout the day for the Restaurant and Cellar Door, including coolrooms and refrigeration, which will also be realised by the beginning of 2015, taking away a large portion of mains-fed electricity.
Hollydene prides itself as an innovator in the development and use of renewable energy and in particular solar power for all applications and in reducing exposure to conventional power and also reducing costs.