Media release – Grapevine germplasm collections review available for public scrutiny

Recommendations from a review of the current status of the existing Australian grapevine collections and ‘best practice’ management of genetic resources by other industries have been released by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) for public discussion (research.wineaustralia.com).

GWRDC commissioned Scholefield Robinson Horticultural Services to undertake the independent review of grapevine germplasm collections in Australia. The main findings of the review were:

  • There are approximately 900 different grapevine varieties in Australian collections, and about 450 varieties only exist in one collection.
  • Some varieties are pre-phylloxera heritage material and are probably unique to Australia.
  • The current resourcing for grapevine germplasm collections – through cutting sales and government agency support – is not sustainable in the long term. Lack of industry involvement is likely to result in closure of collections to the public, less accessibility of varieties with high-health status, and more private importation.

GWRDC first provided the recommendations to the peak industry bodies, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Wine Grape Growers Australia, for their consideration of the way ahead.

‘We are now making the findings of this independent review public because the future of Australian grapevine collections is an issue for everyone in the industry’, said GWRDC Executive Director Dr Stuart Thomson.

‘The independent review made recommendations on priority collections for the future as well as recommendations on an appropriate business model to maintain and financially sustain the selected collections into the future’, he said.

The review suggested that two types of collections are necessary to meet the current and future needs of the grape and wine sector: a germplasm repository of all varieties and a high-health collection containing only in-demand varieties and clones.

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For further information:
Dr Liz Waters, R&D Program Manager
Ph: 08 8273 0500

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