A new Grapevine Propagation Standard is being developed for the Australian grape and wine sector.
The Standard will provide assurance to growers, vineyard managers and winemakers that any new grapevine planting material has been produced in a way that demonstrates best practice in virus and grapevine trunk disease management, traceability and identity verification.
Nick Dry from Foundation Viticulture is working in consultation with the wine and propagation sector on the development of the regulatory and organisational framework around the new Grapevine Propagation Standard.
He said managing virus and trunk disease is a cost-burden to growers and has quality implications for winemakers.
“The simple act of bringing new planting material onto a vineyard can pose a major biosecurity risk for growers. If that planting material contains a pest or pathogen, it is there for the life of that vineyard block and may spread to other blocks on the property.”
He said using certified planting material was the best way for growers to minimise the biosecurity risk.
“We believe the Australian grape and wine sector currently has comparatively low virus and trunk disease status compared to other wine producing countries, however the incidence of both is on the rise. The implementation of a Certified Standard will help to ensure that we maintain the competitive advantage we have over other wine producing countries.”
In developing the Standard, Nick is working with researchers and pathologists to identify opportunities to integrate new technologies and research findings such as DNA identification of varieties and clones, hyper-spectral surveillance of virus, new information on grapevine trunk disease management and high throughput sequencing.
“If we were to undertake this work five years ago the outcomes would have looked very different, and so while the Standard has been a while coming it is perfectly timed when considering the availability of the new technology and research. This new information will help to deliver greater viral and genetic confidence, while keeping cost of conformance to a minimum – which ultimately benefits growers.”
A workshop has recently been completed with a range of stakeholders to define the broad quality assurance objectives of the Standard. “This was a huge step forward as we now have agreement on a number of key aspects of the Standard and clarity on the aspects of the Standard that need further discussion, research or capability investment.”
From here Nick will continue working with propagation stakeholders to identify a suitable model for administering the Standard, which will underpin the development the Standard itself.
“There is still plenty of work to do, but importantly by the end of the year we will have laid the critical foundations on which the Standard will be built,” said Nick.