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Viticulturists and winemakers keen to continue tastings

RD&E News | May 2020
15 May 2020
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Growers and winemakers in the Limestone Coast Regional Program area are eagerly awaiting the green light to continue tastings of the small lot wines produced by last year’s Coonawarra Rootstock Trial.

As with business across the board, the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary halt on many of the activities planned by the Limestone Coast Regional Program.

However, the Executive Officer of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, Ulrich Grey-Smith, said it will be full-steam ahead – albeit in a socially-distanced way – when restrictions are lifted.

‘We held a really successful tasting set and presentation event in the John Riddoch Room at Wynns Coonawarra Estate in December last year. It was a full house.

‘The plan was to hold another event to taste the remaining replicates, but of course we had to put that on hold until further notice’, he said.

The Coonawarra Rootstock Trial was established in 2009 in a long-term partnership between Coonawarra Vignerons, Treasury Wine Estates and Vinehealth Australia. It is the only curated rootstock trial of its type in South Australia.

Ulrich said the trial quickly gained traction in the Limestone Coast as regional leaders and growers realised the potential of the trial as a significant resource.

The trial has included both a randomised, replicated section of seven rows from which annual viticultural measures have been recorded to date, as well as 27 commercially managed rows. Nine rootstocks and an own-root control have been trialled.

Ulrich said the region was looking forward to tasting the remaining pre-allocated replicates.

‘We will also be presenting a paper on “bringing it all together” that will be useful tool in Cabernet Sauvignon selections moving forward.’

In other activities:

  • Eight years on, a second Eutypa survey was undertaken in the region late last year, led by Mark Sosnowski and Matt Ayers from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). More than 340 blocks – many of the same blocks from the initial activity – were surveyed in the space of a week with the help of locally trained teams. Ulrich said the activity was useful in helping a wider audience identify symptoms of Eutypa. Results from the survey are due to be shared soon.
  • Two Wine Australia Incubator Initiative events were held. ‘Is organic weed control beneficial for wine grape production in the Limestone Coast?’ was the subject of a field walk held in Padthaway on 31 January, led by Thomas Lines from the University of Adelaide. Twenty-seven people took part in the walk. The second event was a presentation to the Limestone Coast Committee on ‘What is the best way to treat the iron-related clogging problem in the Limestone Coast Region’ by Harriet Whiley from Flinders University.

‘With all our face-to-face activities cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19, we have not yet had an opportunity to ask for presentations. Similarly, a virus workshop planned for mid-May has been postponed to this time in 2021’, Ulrich said.

‘Timing of some of these workshops is very seasonal and with 2020 already significantly affected, it seems the calendar may be quite full on economy-startup.’

Vintage 2020

Ulrich said although vintage numbers were not yet in, the cold spring had had a big effect on flowering. 

‘Frosts and heat-spikes were also a feature of this season, but fortunately we had no localised fires or reports of smoke taint issues.’

He said crops for the most part have been small and under-estimate.  

‘We have seen this across all varieties, with Cabernet impacted the most. However, indications from the wineries are that the 2020 vintage is a high-quality year.’

An official vintage report is due shortly.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.