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Big turnout at Barossa Pruning Expo

More than 200 people attended the PIRSA Research Station in the Barossa on Wednesday, as grape growers and technical viticulturists gathered from across the Barossa and from Victoria, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and The Riverland for the 2015 Barossa Pruning Expo.

The visitors proved a cut above the local entrants in the pruning competition with Peter Clark, from the Taltarni Vineyards in Victoria’s Pyrenees taking out the Individual Rod &Spur; James Brooksby won the Individual Spur and the Annie’s Lane crew of Keith Zubrinich, Stephen McKenzie and James Brooksby won the Team Competition. It was a big day for Brooksby who took home the Wolf Blass Shield for the best combined result across the two pruning disciplines.

In each of the three years since the pruning competition returned (having not been held since the mid-1980s) Brooksby has been a constant feature of the winners list. This was the second time he’d won the Individual Spur and is now part of a back-to-back champion team.

Having worked in vineyards since he finished school, Brooksby will be looking for another strong showing in 2016 when the event will be held on his home soil in the Clare Valley.

“We always hear they do things better in the Barossa, so it’s nice to come here and knock ‘em off,” Brooksby said. “I guess it’s a bit like a state-of-origin type of rivalry, but it’s a good rivalry and a good event. We get to do a bit of team building on the day as well.”

There was $11,000 worth of prizes on offer for the competition winners.

The Expo, organised by the Barossa Grape & Wine Association (BGWA) and the Barossa VitiTech Group with co-funding from the Australian Grape & Wine Authority, comprised educational workshops, a trade show, and a pruning competition.

The workshop program was strongly focused on prevention and management of Eutypa, a disease which is affecting the long term sustainability and profitability of South Australian vineyards, with estimates of financial losses of up to $20 million annually. Barossa vineyards are ranked highest for Eutypa incidence, due to the region’s significant old vine plantings.

The workshops were led by Australia’s leading Eutypa research scientist, SARDI’s Dr Mark Sosnowski.  He gave an update on the latest findings of his research into preventing and managing Eutypa, including new fungicide registrations and critical timing for wound protection after pruning. BGWA has contributed $17,500 to Dr Sosnowski’s Eutypa research.

Barossa growers Sam Dahlitz, Stuart Schutz, Adrian Hoffmann, Warwick Murray, Trevor March and Simon Cowham also featured in case studies and a panel discussion about how they have ‘tackled’ Eutypa through remedial pruning in recent years.

“The BGWA's vision is for Barossa winemakers and wine grape growers to continue to grow Australia's most vibrant and highly valued region by working collaboratively to produce and market wines of excellence, renowned for exceeding consumer expectations and derived through practices that are both environmentally and economically sustainable,” said Nicki Robins, BGWA Viticultural Development Officer.

2015 Barossa Pruning Competition

Individual Rod & Spur

1   Peter Clark (Moonambel, VIC)

2   Paul Weigand (Barossa, SA)

3   Mark Storton (Sutherlands, SA)

Individual Spur

1   James Brooksby (Clare Valley, SA)

2   Ryan Longmire (Clare Valley, SA)

3   Alex Watt (Barossa, SA)

Team Competition

1   Annie’s Lane:  Keith Zubrinich, Stephen McKenzie, James Brooksby

2   Kilikanoon 1: Leigh Victor, Paul Steele, Troy van Dulken

3   Valley Allstars:  Ryan Longmire, Brett Smith, Scott Victor





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