Just 24 hours off the plane into Bordeaux and I am sitting round the Bervas family table enjoying a wonderful French meal. Pan fried duck breast with sauté garlic potatoes and salad accompanied by several different wines – each one getting a thorough analysis. The West Australian Vanya Cullen biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon is attracting plenty of attention and slow appreciative drinking. The speed of the spoken French is getting faster and everyone has happily forgotten (again) that French fluency is still on my goal list!

Continual Improvement: now taking the first small steps towards Biodynamic viticulture in Hourcat Sud

Continual Improvement: now taking the first small steps towards Biodynamic viticulture in Hourcat Sud

For some reason, we stopped to reflect on our journey together – the history of the Paradise Rescued project. How we got started, the first meeting that was postponed because of snow, the funny phone calls and the hesitant start. We contemplated why the seemingly impossible had happened and indeed how well it has progressed from a very “challenging” start. We even laughed at the (many) moments of disaster – they didn’t seem that funny at the time! But we reflected on how we had learned and then developed unique adaptions that now define our style and difference.

Before I even noticed, we were discussing the year ahead in the vineyard. The changes we are making in Hourcat Sud Cabernet Franc with the small steps towards biodynamic viticulture. How once again the old vine Merlot block of Hourcat Sud is showing such vigour and whether we will have to contemplate two harvest days this year to ensure we bring the fruit in at the optimum ripeness for our wines and not leave the Merlot too late just waiting for the CabFranc to catch up.

The winery from Hourcat Centre. The roof has been cleaned and upgraded.

The winery from Hourcat Centre. The roof has been cleaned and upgraded – continual improvement!

Suddenly I understood what was happening. Our history and tradition is wonderful. And we are (rightly) proud of it. But it is the passion and commitment to continual improvement that drives the team forward. Yesterday’s standard was good but tomorrow’s is better. The business model in the vineyard, winery and niche market access continues to develop, change and improve. It’s not a continuous thing – it happens in small but frequent bursts. It’s a continual thing. And that is a critical key to the sustainability of our business. And I believe a critical key for all businesses? If we are still doing today what we did X years ago, we need to move forward.

Continual improvement – there is no alternative! Just do it!