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14/10/2014

You need to get to know your GLO

JUSTIN Jarrett remembers his last ‘normal’ season in Orange like it was yesterday. The trouble is, it wasn’t yesterday…it was actually back in 2010.

Since then, the region has been wet (2011); promising then wet (2012); brilliant then even wetter (2013); and frosty to start, then warm, then wet (2014). To really rub it in, the 2013 and 2014 rain fell in February and March when, according to 120 years of records, it should have been the area’s driest months.

Jarrett and his wife Pip both grew up on the land and both have qualifications in agricultural science, but they had
nothing to do with vineyards before they bought their own in 1995. Nothing except admiring vines on a trip to Europe.

Fast-forward almost 20 years and their core business is managing their 170 ha of vineyard in Orange. The Jarretts are
one of the larger growers in the region, only Cumulus and Angullong have larger vineyard holdings, but Jarrett points
out the five largest growers represent 80 per cent of the region’s total planting.

Jarrett runs a dedicated benchmarking program for each block, with the poorest performing either dropped or the vines pulled or re-grafted. He said right now they are moving into a major phase of change and at least one paddock will have its vines pulled and they won’t be replaced.

“I think during the next five years we are going to have to be even harder on our standards,” Jarrett added. “Yield
mapping is another key tool in our quality program as it helps us identify the blocks that just aren’t delivering.”

The experience with yield mapping started out with infrared aerial photography to identify the potential higher and lower yielding areas. He said it was fantastic to get a snapshot but you had to be careful interpreting the data – especially if the photo was taken on the back of a 40C heat wave, as it was one year.

“We’ve put the same yield mapping technology you see in broadacre headers into use, with a set of scales weighing everything as it goes across the boom. It took some support from Bernd Kleinlagel at Advanced Technology Viticulture and some tricky logarithm calculations to give us an accurate, live tonne per hectare figure,” he said.

“Using that information we are trying to be more consistent across the whole vineyard and we can increase or decrease the bud numbers to change the yield accordingly. It’s all about aiming for consistency. Although, in the back of my mind is the idea that complexity in wine probably has a lot to do with complexity in the vineyard – but that’s an internal debate I’ll keep having.”

The full article appears in the October 2014 issue of Grapegrower & Winemaker. To ensure your copy, visit www.winebiz.com.au/gwm/subscribe/

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