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Growing grapes in Northern Territory- industry responds

On Friday April 3, Daily Wine News published a Friday Forum, asking readers to have their say on whether the industry should grow grapes in the Northern Territory. James Halliday, leading wine industry journalist and author, posed the question at the 20th birthday of Scholefield Robinson Horticultural Services held in Adelaide in March. To view the original Friday Forum, visit http://www.winebiz.com.au/dwn/details.asp?ID=2461.

In today’s edition, we share some of the responses received. While some thought the proposal to grow grapes in the Northern Territory was an April Fool’s joke, others took a more serious approach. More responses appear in the May edition of the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine.

Dr. Jim Fortune, Fortune Consulting: Biosecurity -A reminder that the NT has already shown the risk of grapevine rust, leading to a fairly expensive eradication campaign. The problem with potential for green vine material all year round is a perfect “green bridge” that allows the disease to multiply and thus increase epidemic risk.

Ron Collins: Maybe James should have stopped after mentioning that 50,000ha need to be removed. I agree with this but why the NT…..look at all that snow in South America…..plenty of water.

Grey Barnden, specialist horticultural valuer: Good luck in getting any reasonable fruit set because north of Ti Tree (about 22 degrees S) it just could be a battle to grow one crop a year, let alone three.

Tony Keys, author of The Key Report: I don’t know enough about grape vines to know if they can stand two crops a year, but I did meet a grower/wine producer from Kenya once who got a crop every eight months, three every two years, unfortunately I never tasted the wine (maybe fortunate). Growing grapes is not the issue really. Selling the resulting wine is the issue at prices returning a profit for grower and producer. The last thing Australia needs is an entrepreneurial grower or six setting up vineyards in the NT. Are you sure this wasn’t an April 1st talk?

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