For Sarah Braude, the Murrumbidgee is central to her work as Sustainability Manager with Casella Family Brands. She spoke with us about her ties to the river, which were forged long before joining the world’s largest family wine company, based in Yenda, NSW, as her mother grew up on the banks of the Murrumbidgee.
Where do you work and your title?
I work at Casella Family Brands as Sustainability Manager. Founded in 1969, Casella has wineries in some of Australia’s premier regions. We also have expertise and capability in beer and spirits crafted at our brewery (Yenda) and distillery (Rutherglen, Victoria).
My role includes working across various strategic sustainability-led initiatives, including GHG emissions, energy auditing, packaging, biodiversity, waste reduction and water management. While I’m based in our Sydney office, I often travel to provide input to operations within the Murray catchment, including the Murrumbidgee.
What made you decide to work in the field?
I don’t recall ever actually deciding; I naturally gravitated towards the environment and sustainability. I took environmental science in my final years at school, the first time it was offered at my school and went to university to study atmospheric science and geomorphology.
I have always wanted to work in the outdoors and enjoy developing strategy and decision-making. I’ve been lucky to find this balance in my line of work.
What do you love most about what you do?
What I love most is helping people see and understand that maybe there is a better way to do what they are doing.
I think society has, over time, become increasingly removed from what powers our world, and it’s not the economy! The environment underpins the economy, not the other way around. It all starts there.
What is something surprising about your role / business?
Casella operates in all three states that the Murray River (including the Murrumbidgee tributary) ventures through. Water from the Murrumbidgee near our Yenda (Griffith) site will eventually flow to South Australia, where we have the Peter Lehmann winery and numerous vineyards. Our operations are all connected to the flow of the river system.
I guess you could say Casella starts at the Murrumbidgee, which means we need to look after the system.
What do you love about the Murrumbidgee?
Its stories. My mum grew up on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, and while I did not, her many stories often made me feel like I did.
I love how one river system can deliver not just a livelihood but also great memories and experiences. Ask anyone around the river’s community, and they will have a story for you!
Is there anything else you would like to share or add?
When it comes to the environment, everything is connected. Whatever you do, you need to consider how it impacts the system as a whole, including local communities.
When it comes to mother nature, nothing is for free. Ultimately, we are all custodians, and it’s in our best interest to respect the land and manage water responsibly.