Smoke taint and Shiraz key focus for Greater Victoria regional program

Smoke taint continues to be one of the major concerns for the Victorian grape and wine industry, and as such will remain a key focus of the Greater Victoria Regional Program for 2013–14.

AWRI Victorian Node Manager Mark Krstic said with the Victorian Government ramping up its planned burn program from 130,000ha to over 250,000ha this season, minimising the occurrence of smoke during the grape ripening period is a major focus extension activity across Victoria.

‘Unfortunately the key window for much of the planned burn is during autumn, when the fruit is at an important development stage and particularly susceptible’, Dr Krstic said.

‘Thankfully the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has been very good at hearing the industry’s concerns, and is trying to do its best to meet the government commitments and address wine industry issues.

‘We have done a lot of regional extension programs and meetings already with the DEPI and growers, and we will continue to keep the line of communication open between regional associations, DEPI and growers to minimise the conflict wherever possible’.

Research into smoke taint management is also ongoing, with DEPI’s Director of the Centre for Expertise in Smoke Taint Research Mark Downey working to develop ‘assays’ for growers to better measure smoke taint levels in grapes.

‘We’re also working on a wide range of education materials, such as new factsheets and workshops to make sure growers remain up-to-date with all the research and tools available to them’.

Last year’s successful Pinot Noir workshops held in Victoria and Tasmania has inspired a follow-up event, this time for Shiraz.

‘We are currently planning a Shiraz Symposium and Masterclass for around November, to be held in Melbourne and to run along similar lines to the really popular Pinot workshops,’ he said.

‘We plan to integrate the latest research with tastings and key presentations from some of the industry’s leading Shiraz authorities’.

Shiraz will also become a focus of a new benchmark study taking in Victoria’s four key Shiraz regions – the Pyranees, Bendigo, Heathcote and Grampians.

‘The study will be chiefly focussed on viticulture practices, and will update and add to the existing research and material we have already amassed from these premium Shiraz regions.

‘As part of the study we will run two or three workshops, to help gather the information and for growers to provide a good opportunity to catch up and discuss what each other are doing in their vineyards and taste the end results’.

Dr Krstic said the managing eucalyptus flavours research by AWRI’s Dimitra Capone has sparked a lot of interest from Victoria’s Pinot winemakers, particularly Matt Steele from Medhurst Wines.

‘Matt and several other wineries are helping collate data specifically on eucalyptol levels in Pinot Noir, with an aim to present the current work and new data at a workshop in November’, he said.

‘A lot of work has already gone into managing eucalyptus flavours in Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, but many of our growers are also keen to see it applied to their Pinots now too’.

The final part of 2013–14 Greater Victoria Regional Program will be a series of five regional workshops, with a specific focus on sustainable viticulture practices.

‘The workshops will present the latest research, advice and tools regarding irrigation and soil management’, Mark said.

For more information contact, Kate Harvey, General Manager,