Photo: Wine Australia

Looking to the skies to improve vines

RD&E News | April 2019
Photo: Wine Australia
12 Apr 2019
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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’ are increasingly finding their niche in the vineyard landscape.

From mapping vineyards to identifying vine vigour and detecting pests, drones can give grapegrowers a real-time snapshot of what is happening in their vineyard at any given time.

Limestone Coast grapegrowers recently looked to the skies to learn more about the practical and scientific use of drones and their spin-off technologies, in a half-day workshop held by the Limestone Coast Regional Program

‘The workshop – coordinated by Hans Loder of Penley Estate – and held in Wrattonbully – was able to show grapegrowers and winemakers where drones can excel – and how the technologies they offer can be used now, and into the future’, said Uli Grey-Smith of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, which coordinates the local Regional Program.

Dr Sigfredo Fuentes from the University of Melbourne presented a session on UAVs and machine learning (artificial intelligence) for viticulture and winemaking, while Ashley Cox from Airsight explained when and where drones can be flown and why they can’t be used for spraying. Other presentations included Nathan Roy, Drone Agriculture on niche applications of drones and Grant Yates from Southern Precision on applications where UAVs excel over fixed wing and satellite.

‘It is a fast-moving space, and we plan to do a similar event in the next couple of years – this time focusing on driverless equipment’, said Uli.

Image: Coonawarra Vignerons
Limestone Coast grapegrowers had a chance to 'touch, taste and see' grapes grown on eight rootstocks and own roots in a local trial

Coonawarra Cabernet rootstock small batch wines project

In 2009, a joint venture plot of Cabernet vines on favoured rootstock was planted by Coonawarra Vignerons, Treasury Wine Estates and Vinehealth Australia.

Late last month, Limestone Coast grapegrowers had a chance to ‘touch, taste and see’ the eight rootstocks and own roots produced in the Coonawarra Cabernet rootstock small batch wines project.

Just days later, the grapes were harvested by volunteers under the guidance of Kerry DeGaris (Chair of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council Technical Subcommittee) and Suzanne McLoughlin (VineHealth Australia).  

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) has been commissioned to make the wine and produce the bottle sets.

The sets of wine from the trial, although not made yet, are already allocated to various groups with extension work planned over the next 18 months.’

Image: Coonawarra Vignerons

Coonawarra Cabernet Symposium

In other events, 115 people attended the third International Coonawarra Cabernet Symposium, held in the Coonawarra Region.  

The Symposium – which included a pruning workshop – provided colleagues from across the sector and wine lovers the opportunity to learn about the history of the variety, as well as the innovations and developments occurring in the fields of wine research, viticulture, winemaking and the marketing of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Image: Ian Routledge / Wine Australia

Simonit & Sirch soft pruning demonstration days

Italian company, Simonet and Sirch, has taken the Australian viticultural sector by storm over the past few pruning seasons. Company representatives presented two sell-out half-day demonstration days – one in Coonawarra and the other in Wrattonbully. Simonit & Sirch is known for its modified ‘soft pruning’ Pousset method for pruning grapevines, which uses an understanding of the way grapevines transport nutrients and water to identify canes that provide an uninterrupted supply of sap.


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