Forum to discuss Cabernet hang-time

There’s always a lot of debate in the west about how long Cabernet Sauvignon grapes should stay on the vine, and the issue will be discussed from all sides at a Cabernet Hang-Time Forum in Margaret River on Tuesday 24 January.

It’s part of a two-year project, funded under Wine Australia’s Regional Program, which has included a series of trials run through Curtin University and subsequent sensory testing by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). Results of that testing will be presented at the forum, and there will be an opportunity to taste the wines.

‘We’re really trying to get the conversation moving in a more informed way; adding some science to the opinion’, said Wines of Western Australia CEO Larry Jorgensen, who will host the day.

‘We’re bringing in Jim Harbertson, an expert from the US, plus researchers from the AWRI, Curtin and Adelaide universities and local winemakers and grapegrowers.

‘It will be a comprehensive session and we’re hoping to attract 60 to 80 people who will present not just the winemaking and grapegrowing perspectives, but also the consumer view.’

Mr Jorgensen says hang-time is a big issue in Western Australia (WA) because of the ‘green herbaceous characteristics we can get in our Margaret River Cabernet’. Some people think it adds character, while others aren’t so keen.

‘Obviously, growers have an opinion because there are risks to them in keeping fruit on the vine longer than they would like, but there are different views and perspectives to consider, including those of sales and marketing people, and wine drinkers’, he said.

The forum will be held at Curtin University’s Margaret River campus from 8.30am to 2.15pm. You can reserve a seat by emailing jodie@winewa.asn.au. Alternatively call or send an SMS to Keith Pekin on 0466 744 957.

Two other major projects are under way in WA under the Regional Program. In the Geographe region, there is a focus on helping grapegrowers to better understand and interpret soil, irrigation water and petiole sample analysis results to improve fertiliser and irrigation management practices.

Ten local producers are being provided with one-on-one sessions with a specialist agronomist and will receive a tailored report benchmarking their vineyards against sector standards.

‘We aim to help producers improve nutrition and irrigation practices to achieve targeted yield and quality outcomes’, Mr Jorgensen said. ’We’ve run a similar program in the Swan Valley region and it proved very effective in generating practice change. In particular, it works well for producers who don’t have a formal qualification in viticulture.’

An ongoing project is evaluating and demonstrating alternative grape varieties with potential in WA.

‘Around 80 per cent of our production comprises 5 traditional varieties that have served us well, but there are risks in relying on such a small number when considering challenges such as climate change and market trends’, Mr Jorgensen said.

‘We are working with growers to encourage and support them to consider new varieties that are best suited to their regions and climates, demonstrating their potential through vine performance data, small-lot winemaking and tastings, and field walks.’

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