New technology and tastings on Limestone Coast agenda

Limestone Coast growers will take a more in depth look at vine dieback in the next 12 months, with the help of some new technology, known as ‘Green Seeker’.

Green Seeker is an instrument that measures chlorophyll (the greenness) in the vine leaves using infra-red light. It can be used to assess vine vigour, as a potential indicator of vine nutrient status as well as stress levels – and has been employed by Balnaves of Coonawarra for the past two years as an early detection tool for vine decline.

Vineyards across the Limestone Coast will be surveyed for vine dieback using several portable Green Seeker units, with the information collated and communicated to growers in a final report and workshops, funded at as part of the GWRDC Regional Program.

Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council Inc Executive Officer Ulrich Grey-Smith said vine dieback has been a topic of interest for many in the Limestone Coast for several years.

‘Previous projects have looked at methods to prevent and treat vine dieback as well as the economics – but this year we want to measure the real incidence of vine dieback.

‘By mapping the physical vineyards and seeing where vine dieback is occurring we have more sound information to plan and make real financial decisions on treatment and future vineyard plantings.

‘Balnaves of Coonawarra has led the region in the use of the new Green Seeker tool and will be lending their experience to help move this project forward and collate the results’.

Weather stations

Data on the Limestone Coast’s unique micro-climates will continue to be measured in Wrattonbully and Mount Benson.

Mr Grey-Smith said last year’s GWRDC Regional Program provided the funding and support to establish 30 new weather stations across Wrattonbully and Mount Benson.

‘We’ve got the units in place now and the CSIRO has also recently come on board – so now it’s a case of collating the data and getting this information out to growers’, he said.

‘The Kanawinka Range that runs through the Limestone Coast makes for some very unique sub-climates on either side of the range, which means growers have long needed more specific weather data to help inform their growing decisions’.

Benchmark tastings

Three tutored tasting workshops on the key themes of Cabernet, alternate variety and single vineyard, are included in the Regional Program agenda for 2013-14.

‘The Limestone Coast is best described as fruit rich, winery poor – with about 70 per cent of the fruit grown here transported outside of the region to be processed’, Mr Grey-Smith said.

‘It means the opportunities to benchmark and taste the final result aren’t as plentiful as other regions, so having tutored tastings is very important to many of our wineries and growers’.

The workshops will be used to taste, benchmark and discuss international and national wines against regional examples.

Eucalyptol research

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) will return to the Limestone Coast this year, with a Eucalyptol workshop.

‘Last year, the AWRI held a Tannin Workshop in Robe, which looked at clonal and vintage effects, grape and wine relationships, and comparison of warm versus cool vintages’, he said.

‘This year, many of our growers have already signalled an interest in the work Dr Dimitra Capone is doing with the 1,8 cineole compound (eucalyptol) – and are looking forward to see how her research might be employed here in the Limestone Coast’.

More unearthing viticulture

The publication, Unearthing Viticulture in the Limestone Coast, continues to garner international and national attention.

First published three years ago, with the aid of the GWRDC Regional Program, Mr Grey-Smith said the Council was continuing to promote the unique resource.

‘We would like to promote it more as we’re quite proud that it really is the first publication of its kind – and it’s great that we continue to see it being used as a reference tool for new research and publications’, he said.

Unearthing Viticulture in the Limestone Coast is available, free to download, from the Council’s website here.

Weather Station