Help is only a phone-call away when vintage problems occur

If you have a technical question or hit an unexpected problem during vintage, the AWRI staff are on hand to help.

Funded by the GWRDC, the AWRI help-desk is a service provided to levy payers and is accessible during business hours and contactable on 08 8313 6600 or by email:

For urgent afterhours queries, Con Simos, AWRI’s Group Manager for Industry Development and Support, is available on 0448 889 432.

AWRI senior oenologist Geoff Cowey said the five most common queries coming in on the help line, just before and at the start of vintage, deal with agrochemical questions, lab or analysis methods, fermentation advice, contamination problems, and more recently concerns around smoke taint.

Agrochemical sprays queries

‘These queries mostly come from growers who have sprayed and want to know the implications of harvesting fruit inside the withholding period (last sprays are often about a month before harvest)’, Mr Cowey said.

‘This generally happens when the weather warms up quickly like it did in January and harvest date becomes earlier than expected’.

The latest agrochemical information is now available as an APP for use with smartphones and tablet technology. More information about the AWRI Agrochemical ‘Dog Book’ is found at here.

Lab or analysis method requests.

‘These queries often come in from new lab staff hired to set up or run a wine laboratory over the vintage period’, he said.

For information about establishing new labs go to the AWRI website here.

There’s also the latest advice on a variety of lab methods here.

Fermentation advice.

‘This can vary from winemakers wanting information on yeast selection to produce different wine styles to stuck fermentation issues experienced because of compromised quality fruit (from sunburn, heat damage to fruit, or sometimes from powdery/botrytis in wetter years)’, he said.

‘There has been a trend recently with winemakers using yeasts with medium to high nitrogen demand such as some of the new innovative yeasts available to aid in texture, aroma production etc.

‘The recommendation would be to check the individual yeast nitrogen demand, measure the nitrogen level in fruit, and adjust if required’.

Information on nitrogen requirements and target levels can be found at here.

General fermentation information can also be found in previous GWRDC articles:

Wine processing

Stuck ferment

‘With recent heatwave conditions the AWRI also put together some information about how to handle grapes in hot conditions which might be relevant, it can be found here. 

Mr Cowey and colleague Dr Paul Henschke also discuss the topic of heatwaves and impacts on ferments general fermentation issues in a webinar, which can be viewed here.

Taints and contaminations

Mr Cowey said contamination of fruit can happen in the vineyard or at harvest from hydraulic oil (used to lubricate moving parts of equipment) or in the winery from cooling brine used to chill and clarify juice and wine.

‘General engineering and maintenance can prevent these things from happening but they always seem to occur at this time of year’, he said.

A good article, addressing these concerns was published in the Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker, Issue 541, and titled, ‘Brines, paints, oils and the occasional mobile phone – common vintage contaminants.  The article is available upon request from the AWRI’s John Fornachon Memorial Library.

Smoke taint

‘This has become more prevalent at this time of year for the last few hot years, with several queries already coming in now from South Australia and Victoria because of the recent fires’, he said.

For the last information and advice on this matter check out the Smoke Taint news article.