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April (No. 495)


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RVIC boosts R&D

Anita Donaldson

The Riverland Vine Improvement Committee (RVIC), led by David Nitschke, is responsible for a combined total of more than 4 million vinifera and rootstock cuttings from its Monash headquarters in South Australia.

While the supply of this amount of cuttings would seem more than enough work for most, the RVIC has increasingly become involved in trial work and research and development in recent years.

Nitschke said that after a lag in vine improvement R&D after funding cuts in the 1990s, the RVIC had endeavoured to get back on track with trial work.

A particular focus is on the growing of grapevine rootstocks, alternative varieties and more specifically, clones, with a priority on the wine quality advantages these clones may offer the wine industry, as opposed to quantity or ease of cutting production attributes.

The Riverland is currently home to clonal trials involving Shiraz, Semillon, Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a total of 76 clones. These were planted in 2003 so results from small-lot winemaking assessments are yet to come.

Other work includes assessment of new varieties including Albarino, Furmint, Vermentino, Montipulciano, Lagrein and Tannat.

Were getting close to 40-50 varieties that would be considered obscure, or outside the mainstream, Nitschke said.

Well be picking some Albarino fruit this year and indications are that it is going to be a good variety here. The fruit looks good, its got good acid, but the proof will be in the pudding.

Nitschke said the RVIC currently has 2ha of vineyard dedicated to trial work in the Riverland.

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