Region in focus: Greater Victoria

Victoria has a strong extension program planned over the coming months, as part of the Regional Program funded by Wine Australia, with the first major event for ‘Greater Victoria’ just weeks away.

A workshop will be held in the Pyrenees region in mid-November to look at management strategies for helping a vineyard recover from fire damage and the decisions that have to be made along the way.

‘This is not just about smoke taint, it is about what happens when a fire goes through your vineyard, destroying your irrigation infrastructure and damaging or even killing vines’, said the Victorian Node Manager for the Australian Wine Research Institute, Dr Mark Krstic.

‘An unfortunate fire last December burnt out a 14-and-a-half-hectare vineyard. With the owner’s support we have been able to go back regularly since then to collect data and monitor the recovery patterns of vines. It’s been a valuable exercise and we have a lot to pass on to local vineyard managers.’

Smoke taint remains a pressing issue for much of Victoria. Dr Krstic and his colleagues have an increasing role working with fire and government authorities to ensure the interests of viticulturists are understood and respected in the implementation of the planned burn program in the state.

‘There has been a two or three-fold increase in planned burns in Victoria in recent years and we are working closely with the relevant people to minimise their impact’, Dr Krstic said. ‘It’s about strategic co-ordination to avoid conflict and ensure the right outcomes are achieved for everybody.’

Another research priority is trunk disease, which is a major issue in cooler regions particularly with vines that are more than 15 years old.

Six extension events held last December were very successful in raising awareness and providing insights into new management techniques that can be used to control trunk diseases. As a follow up – and in response to feedback – three practical demonstration workshops will be held next April to look in more depth at options for remediating affected vines.

These sessions will be held in Ararat, Mornington Peninsula and Milawa in north-eastern Victoria, where Victorian researchers have been working with Dr Mark Sosnowski from the SA Research & Development Institute (SARDI) to trial specific management practices based around remedial pruning and the use of different wound treatments.

A related project in Milawa is testing strategies for supporting vine regrowth after remedial surgery. ‘Sometimes vines struggle to reshoot, or reshoot unevenly, with only half happening one year and the rest the next’, Dr Krstic said. ‘This leads to uneven vineyard growth.’

To cap off the financial year, Greater Victoria will hold a Cool Climate Chardonnay Symposium in June, building on the success of a Shiraz event held last year.

‘It will have much the same format, with a mix of science and practical experiences’, Dr Krstic said. ‘It will be held in the Yarra Valley, which is very supportive of the concept, and we are working with the local sector to develop the program.’

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