A kaleidoscope of education for WA growers in the pipeline

RD&E News | July 2019
12 Jul 2019
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How confident would you be adding water to manage high Baumé red must?

Compressed vintages and extreme weather events are increasingly becoming part of the climate change landscape. Managing elevated ripeness of red fruit is part and parcel of this new ‘normal’.

In recognition of this, in 2017 Food Standards Australia and New Zealand announced it would allow the limited addition of water to must to dilute the sugar to 13.5 oBaumé under specific conditions.

Studies have found that adding water to grape must is an effective way of managing fermentation issues in juice with high sugar concentrations, but the practicalities around adding water still leave some cautious.

Image: Andre Castelluci / Wine Australia

Inspired by a recent Australian Wine Research Institute Winemaking Trial Tasting workshop on Cabernet Sauvignon, which demonstrated the impact of diluting high Baumé red musts, the Western Australia (WA) Regional Program – funded by Wine Australia – will undertake its own trials in 2019–20.

During the project, Shiraz from Swan Valley and Frankland River and Cabernet from Margaret River will be picked at varying maturities and treated with different water dilutions. The small-lot wines will then undergo producer tastings at a series of tasting workshops.

Richard Fennessy, Research Officer (grape and wine) with the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, said the project aimed to demonstrate to winemakers that diligent water additions can be used in challenging years to effectively manage elevated Baumè.

In other events for the WA Regional Program in 2019–20:

Cloning about

There are a number of clones available for the key varieties grown in WA. However, there is a dearth of information on their performance and suitability.

The WA Regional Program hopes its clonal project will help improve growers’ knowledge of clonal diversity – and which ones may be preferable for WA conditions.

‘A number of vineyards across WA have already planted multiple clones within uniform blocks, which allows us to demonstrate and compare them’, Mr Fennessy said.

‘We will use these clonal plantings of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Tempranillo and Shiraz to measure berry and bunch, and use small lot winemaking to demonstrate and compare the performance of selected clones under WA conditions.’

Richard said the project would support growers to make more informed decisions when it comes to selecting clones for new plantings or reworks.

Image: Ian Routledge / Wine Australia

Virus symposium

The latest scientific understandings of biology, translocation and transmission of common and exotic viruses – and practical strategies to manage them - will be presented at a symposium to be held in Margaret River in June next year.

This activity is proposed to run in conjunction with a similar activity in the Limestone Coast which is also funded by Wine Australia’s Regional Program.

Latest in trunk disease management

In recent years, much work has been done to identify trunk diseases and their management – particularly around dieback caused by Eutypa lata.

However, Eutypa lata is not known to occur in WA – which has led to some confusion over management options existing for WA growers.

In a series of workshops held in May this year, growers were informed and updated on the current WA situation and beyond, and learnt the best practice management options available to them.

Separate to the Regional Program, an updated Best Management Practice Guide for Grapevine Trunk Disease will be available in the coming weeks on the Wine Australia website.

Image: supplied
Participants at a WA Regional Program trunk disease workshop learnt the latest in management techniques.

Achieving logistic efficiencies

Many small wine producers struggle to build the scale that can increase their profits and market reach. This regional presentation will inform producers how they can leverage ‘collaborative’ business models or build consortia in order to better leverage price discounts from shipping and transportation providers, while building scale to increase domestic and international market reach.

The activity will present the findings of Incubator Initiative project CUT 1701 (‘How can small producers in Western Australia achieve economies of scale efficiencies in logistics and distribution?’) in conjunction with input from the sector.

Presentations will be held in Swan Valley and Margaret River in October 2019.

For more information on any of the initiatives, contact Richard Fennessy.

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.