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Wine research community joins to help industry fight fire, smoke

Anita Donaldson

Within hours of the news of the bushfires and their path of destruction through Victoria breaking last week, the wine research agencies were pledging their help and support to the wine community in the regions affected. With the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) representatives from DPI Victoria, DAFWA, University of Adelaide, National Wine & Grape Industry Centre, Victorian Wine Industry Association and the Australian Wine Research Institute, along with industry members, have collaborated to provide practical information, services and resources for fire-affected vignerons.

“A series of fact sheets are now available on the GWRDC website (www.gwrdc.com.au) and the sites of other agencies that outline processes for taking fruit samples,where to send them and provide a link to archived papers and research items, fact sheets and other resources that growers might like to visit to update their knowledge,” said GWRDC executive director, John Harvey.

“DPI Victoria has copies of a Smoke Effect DVD available (contact Kieran Murphy (03) 9296 4658) and there is an online video on the DPI website, www.dpi.vic.gov.au/horticulture,” said Harvey, adding: “There is also a copy of the 2007 report Understanding the sensitivity to timing and management options to mitigate impacts of bush fire smoke on grape and wine quality.”

Harvey said one of the most important early roles is to assist people with logistics and sample analysis.

“DPI Victoria has set-up a series of three hubs throughout the State where people can take fruit for sample analysis. The DPI Grapes Team will collect fresh samples at these locations in the Yarra Valley (Punt Road Wines), Nagambie (Michelton Wines) and Rutherglen (DPI Victoria) and ship these in bulk to the AWRI in South Australia, or other laboratories in Victoria for testing.

To register your interest for this service please contact Ricky James at DPI Rutherglen on (02) 6030 4611 or

The most effective time to test levels of guaiacol and 4-methyl guaiacol to give an idea of levels in the finished wine product is as close to harvest as possible. This will allow the testing to show the highest possible reading, if any, and this will give the most accurate comparison to the day of harvest.

“There are special plant movement requirements for growers in Phylloxera-affected areas when it comes to collecting and sending-off samples — they require a Plant Health Certificate and this can only be issued if the samples have been frozen at-18ºC for 24 hours in an approved facility,” Harvey said.

Plant health certificates have already been pre-arranged at these three hubs throughout Victoria.

A 500 gram representative sample (berries or bunches) from each block/variety growers wish to be tested will need to be double bagged in appropriately sized cliplock bags. Both the inner and outer bag will need to be labeled with adhesive labels stating the grower’s name, address, variety and block details.

As samples can not leave Phylloxera Infested Zones without a Plant Health Certificate this is why the collection points have been established in the Rutherglen, Nagambie and within the Yarra Valley PIZ zone. Samples from PEZ and PRZ areas can be delivered into these areas for collection.

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) has joined with the other agencies in providing immediate help by ensuring a three-working day turnaround on receipt of samples for testing. For all information and links to archived articles and information resources, visit www.gwrdc.com.au and for further information visit the Department of Primary Industries, Victoria at: http://dpivic.e-newsletter.com.au/link/id/gOBOiIFhglKThOMwrfGjP1fbfdd2fbaae312719c6/page.html

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