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20/10/2008

Time is right for growers to embrace new varieties

Many winegrape growers have been scared off trying to plant new, lesser known varieties in recent years, but Sunraysia woman Kim Chalmers believes the time is right for a rethink.

Miss Chalmers, who is the general manager of Chalmers Wines at Euston in the Sunraysia, and her family have pioneered a number of new varieties over the past 10 years that are now hitting the spot with growers and consumers. Miss Chalmers will highlight which new varieties are gaining acceptance among consumers at the Some Like It Hot seminar at the Chaffey Theatre, Renmark on November 6.

Kim and her parents, Bruce and Jenni Chalmers, who also operated Chalmers Nurseries at Euston, have imported and propagated a number of new varieties and clones that have their origins in Italy, France and Spain, even South Africa.

“We are all about producing good quality wine in the most sustainable way possible,” Miss Chalmers said.

“We know from our own research that some of these new varieties are becoming well known in restaurants, but convincing growers to branch out and plant them is one of our biggest challenges.”

Miss Chalmers said the hype (and subsequent failure) that surrounded the introduction of varieties like sangiovese several years ago had been hampered by poor clonal material and had proven to be a costly lesson that was holding back the development of newly introduced, more suitable varieties worthy of investment.

“We have come a long way since those early days, we now have access to superior clones and many more varieties,” she said. “The research that has been done here and overseas should give growers today a lot more confidence to explore new varieties that excel in our hot, dry climate.

“We firmly believe that there are new varieties that will make quality wine for growers across the Riverland and Sunraysia.”

Miss Chalmers and her family have been pioneers in managing climate change within their businesses. They have been working toward discovering varieties, and experimenting with clones, which suit Chalmers Vineyard’s viticultural conditions and have the ability to produce distinctive, quality wines using less water.

The family, with the support of the GWRDC and industry sponsors, launched a free grower DVD earlier this year that provided a series of tips on how to be profitable with less water. It has been distributed to most Riverland winegrape growers in recent months.

Miss Chalmers will be among the guest speakers at the Riverland wine industry’s Some Like It Hot seminar at the Chaffey Theatre, Renmark on Thursday, November 6.

“My talk will be a two-pronged presentation, focusing on the water saving tips that are highlighted in the DVD and the new varieties that can provide viable alternatives as the wine industry tackles climate change.”

Riverland Wine Industry Development Council chief executive Cameron Hills said growers would get a lot out of Miss Chalmers’ presentation.

“We have had a very positive response to her water saving DVD and her family’s work with new varieties that thrive in our hot dry climate could not be better timed.”

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