Building premium, profitable and sustainable vineyard businesses is at the heart of SA North’s ‘demonstration vineyards’ project – now in its fifth vintage.
The initiative Preparing for a changing climate by improving the resilience of Barossa and Clare Valley vineyards – supported by Wine Australia’s Regional Program – has seen the Barossa and Clare Valley grape and wine associations set up a total of 10 demonstration vineyards, with the aim of ‘showing, not telling’ best practice viticulture methods to local wine grapegrowers.
The trial blocks range in size from 0.4 –1 hectare and are located next to control blocks. They are monitored, analysed and tested for a wide range of factors including:
- the effect of mulch under-vine
- irrigation scheduling via soil moisture monitoring versus calendar schedule
- establishment of native and other grasses mid-row
- spur versus cane pruning
- late pruning to extend harvest date
- the effect of catch wires
- the effect of reducing bud numbers on yield and quality
- different methods for reworking Eutypa-affected vines, and
- locally composted mulch under-vine, in partnership with Tarac.
‘Now that the trial is into its fifth season, we will undertake soil organic carbon analysis and penetrometer tests to demonstrate improvements in soil health due to under-vine mulching and mid-row grasses’, said Nicki Robins, Viticultural Development Officer for the Barossa Grape & Wine Association (BGWA).
‘The trials have already demonstrated the benefits of under-vine mulching for growers with limited access to water, particularly in hotter, drier vintages, including reduced soil temperature and improved water-holding capacity – compared to vines growing in bare soil.’
During vintage 2019, BGWA will also continue its Dyostem trial in partnership with Vivelys and Dorrien Winemakers. This trial is designed to detect the ‘fresh fruit window’ in wine grapes leading up to harvest.
Nicki said French company Vivelys’ Dyostem technology is used by many wine brands internationally, including Chateau Latour, Opus One and Kendall Jackson.
‘The Dyostem system can help wineries plan and decide optimum picking dates for specific wine styles. It uses berry weight, Baumé, and other measurements wineries gather, combined with sensory profiling developed over many years, to detect wine styles ranging from fresh fruit, intermediate fruit and mature fruit – and when yields are declining.’
Last vintage, the Barossa and Clare Valley demonstration vineyards were included in the Dyostem trial – as well as Shiraz samples from Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Grant Burge Wines, Yalumba Family Vignerons and Dorrien Estate.
SA North has two other key events planned for 2019:
- Workshops on managing grapevine nutrition in a changing environment. The workshops – to be held in the Barossa and Clare Valley in early May 2019 – will advise growers on best management practices for optimal vine health.
- A best practice pruning workshop, focusing on remedial pruning of Eutypa-affected vines, will be held as part of the 2019 Barossa Pruning Expo on 5 June 2019. Eutypa dieback is caused by the fungus Eutypa lata and is one of the major grapevine trunk diseases.