Strength in addressing the challenges of climate change is provided by the close working relationship between GWRDC, grapegrowers, winemakers and researchers.
It is a partnership that has enabled the Australian wine sector to be globally competitive through good science, development of innovative practices, fast uptake of the results of research, and intelligent marketing. It has also helped build resilience, as seen in the successful management of grapevines with the advent of significant water restrictions. This capacity and a continuing relationship with research is vital as the challenges of climate change become more apparent. Research into vine physiology and plant/soil/water interactions, clones and rootstocks, irrigation techniques and other factors may provide information that will help create vineyards that are able to soften the impacts of climate change. Other research based on modelling of the effects of climate change may inform growers making decisions about their business, whether this be changing varieties and rootstocks, redeveloping irrigation systems and canopy management, relocating or switching to new enterprises.
A major part of the research effort is supported by the Australian Government’s Australia’s Farming Future Climate Change Research Program. Wine Australia on behalf of the wine industry gained $1.2m over three years to, among other things: assist evaluation of new grape varieties, clones and rootstocks more suited to successfully tolerating extreme weather events associated with climate change; investigate management techniques to reduce the effects on grape production caused by climate change; and assist extension of knowledge and demonstration of adaptation strategies.
Additional funding can be connected with climate change, including: investments made by Wine Australia in studies of the way a vine functions (in search of clues that may help the understanding and management of vines in times of extended heat and water stress); various irrigation research projects (including those addressing precision irrigation techniques and salinity); and regional projects that are important to the local interpretation and adoption of the results of climate change related research.
Climate change studies are considered to be a priority by the wine industry, which is conscious of the correlation between wine styles and regional climate.