Cellar doors and cover-crop research at the top of Queensland’s agenda

Improving the cellar door experience for consumers and the financial returns for wineries are a key focus for the Queensland Regional Program in 2014–15.

Former Queensland Wine Industry Association (QWIA) president Jim Barnes said workshops and finding ways to adapt and apply existing research results for Queensland’s unique climate and environment will again form a large part of this year’s Regional Program, funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority.

The Regional Program includes an ongoing cover-crop trial and a look at the current trial results from mulch and compost projects being undertaken in other states

“The cover-crop trial is a three-year project, which started last year in a couple of the regions but there delays in some of the plantings owing to an unusual lack of rain,” Mr Barnes said.

The trial will be conducted in vineyard sites across three regions, with native cover-crop species such as Prostrate Ruby Saltbush, QLD Bluegrass and Wallaby Grass being considered as possible inclusions in the trial.

“We’ll also take a closer look at compost and mulch trials, which have recently been undertaken in the other states, and compare them with what the wineries are already doing here,” he said.

“It’s a case of seeing what we can take from these trial results and use for our own needs. We have some unique and diverse geographic zones and climates in Queensland; in some areas we get higher summer rainfall with a cooler and drier winter than the other southern states.

“Essentially, we want to make sure we’re employing the most sustainable practices we can – particularly in the vineyard. Anything that offers lower cost or inputs for the same or improved results is important for this region’s ongoing sustainability.”

The latest industry advice around wine tourism and current cellar door research will also form part of Queensland’s Regional Program agenda.

“This region makes the vast majority of its wine sales through its cellar doors – so it’s no surprise that wine tourism is considered a significant priority,” Mr Barnes said.

“We hope to invite an expert in cellar door tourism to come talk to us about the new industry research and latest information around cellar doors.

“The wineries want to know what they need to do to improve the cellar door customer experience, which in turn will help them make more sales and improve the financial outcomes for this region.”

More details and dates about the Queensland Regional Program and planned workshops will be made available through QWIA’s industry newsletter and website: qwia.org.au

Visitors enjoying the Hidden Creek cellar door, in the Granite Belt wine region
Visitors enjoying the Hidden Creek cellar door, in the Granite Belt wine region