Packed salt workshop wraps up SA Central Regional Program

SA Central’s 2012–13 Regional Program ended on a high in April, with a much bigger than expected turn out for the final SA Central workshop, titled Salt – soils, vines, fruit and wines.

Held in McLaren Vale, the workshop was originally capped at 30 people but when that target was hit in just 24 hours, the organisers decided to open it up to a wider audience – with more than 70 registering to attend.

Dr Lian Jaensch, executive officer of Langhorne Creek Grape and Wine Incorporated, said though drought and poor water quality had made the issue of salinity a main focus in the Langhorne Creek region for several years, it was now on the radar for many other wine regions.

‘I think concerns over water quality, the cost and access to irrigation water and the effect of more hot, dry summers are shared across many of the regions in South Australia and other states, now more than ever’, Lian said.

Organised by the McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association, the free workshop was held at the Serafino Winery, with recipients given a copy of the Salt Management Interpretation Guide, which was produced for the SA Central region in 2011 and is available on the GWRDC website here

SARDI researchers Drs Mike McCarthy and Tim Pitt shared the latest on their research on irrigation-induced salinity and redirecting rainfall in the vineyard, respectively.

Another presentation looked at Treasury Wine Estate’s trials in salt monitoring and management, and Dr Rob Walker from CSIRO talked about his work with salt-tolerant rootstocks.

The workshop concluded with a discussion and tasting hosted by the AWRI, and focussed on the topic of salt thresholds in wine.

Alternative varieties

An intensive but highly informative field day, with a unique focus on alternative varieties, was a feature in this year’s SA Central Regional Program.

Held at the K1 Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills in February, the workshop program, titled Alternative varieties – successes, opportunities and cautions, included presentations by viticulture consultant Lib Tassie, David Nitshcke from Riverland Vine Improvement Association, viticulturist Prue Henschke, winemaker Zar Brooks and wine judge Phil Reedman MW.

‘The workshop presenters offered some unique experience and insights into the viticulture and winemaking demands as well as the styles, consumer interest and markets for alternative varieties’, Lian said.

Six case studies, partnered with comparative wine tastings, were also presented by wineries, using their experience in growing Fiano, Vermentino, Gruener Veltliner, Montepulciano, Malbec and Nero d’Avola.

Part of the program was a vineyard walk with host Geoff Hardy, where participants took a closer look at the management of alternative varieties at his Adelaide Hills site.

‘We had some excellent feedback from the program, with participants rating the opportunity to get the latest information and to learn from others in the industry already working with alternative varieties as highlights of the day’, Lian said.

New program in development

Lian said eight new workshops were being scheduled for the SA Central region in 2013–14, and would take place across Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island.

The Regional Program is a key initiative of GWRDC that seeks to actively encourage and support innovation, extension and adoption in the Australian wine sector. The program aims to help grapegrowers and winemakers adopt new tools and research findings to support a competitive Australian wine sector.

For more information contact Elise Heyes, GWRDC Program Manager, elise@gwrdc.com.au

Image: Phil Reedman MW shares his experience about markets and consumer interest in alternative varieties at the Alternative Varieties – successes, opportunities and cautions workshop held in the Adelaide Hills earlier this year.

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