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Climate change focus in clonal trials

A major AGWA-funded project assessing clonal variability in Chardonnay and Shiraz aims to improve the wine industry’s understanding of how clones can contribute to wine style as well as their best possible location.

Dr Michael McCarthy, principal scientist viticulture with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), said a lack of such knowledge is a major reason why industry uptake of different clones has been slow.

“With the Australian wine industry seeking more complexity and regional differences in wines, there is the opportunity to demonstrate that clones may bring another level of interest in wines,” he said.

McCarthy said the research is investigating how knowledge of clonal variability can help the industry prepare for future climate change.

“The Australian industry is fortunate in that, due to a number of factors, vineyards have greater longevity than in a number of other countries,” he said. “However, if climate change projections prove correct, vineyards planted now will experience warmer and probably drier conditions throughout their lifetime.

“The challenge, therefore, is to know which clones should be planted now for this future. Can we use existing differences in the present climate between geographically separated sites as a surrogate for climate change and gain some insights about how clones may perform in this future climate?”

The four-year project, which began in June 2013, is evaluating clones from mature field plantings. A standard set of viticultural observations is made for all clones at each site and data loggers record canopy temperatures during the growing season. Nearby automatic weather station data is used to describe regional climate.

McCarthy said progress to date has been ‘incredibly smooth’ due in no small part to the enthusiasm of everyone involved.

In collaboration with the AWRI, two wine tastings will be available for Victoria in May. For more information about Clonal tasting and Shiraz benchmarking workshop to be held on May 12, 2015, click here. For information about next generation planting material workshop on May 14, 2015, click here. Tastings in other regions are planned for later in the year.





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