Grapevine germplasm is the foundation of the Australian wine sector. Planting decisions require high quality, clean material that is resilient to future climate challenges while being able to deliver desired wine quality and styles. The future of the sector depends on the health, quality and integrity of its vineyards and the securing of its foundation grapevine assets. This project aimed to update the existing 2013 register of germplasm material to create a searchable public register within Australian vine nursery collections, including Vine Improvement organisations and material privately held by nurseries, individuals and companies. Although this was largely achieved, public distribution of the information will not occur until further consultation with owners of collections. Complete auditing of collections and up-to-date data will require additional time and resourcing.
Collections are held primarily by Vine Improvement (VI) organisations and nurseries, or private companies and, in only one instance (Western Australia), a state department. This represents a significant change from germplasm holdings of 20 years ago, with a significant decline in government involvement and support. The baseline of collections was taken from the previous work of McMichael et al, 2013, an update of the 2006 version of the National Register of Grapevine Varieties and Clones by Phil Nicholas. Since then, another government managed collection in NSW was removed, and the Queensland one has been further reduced to only rootstock material. Only the Western Australian collection remains on government land. The extensive collections of CSIRO and SARDI, the two largest, publicly managed and resourced collections in Australia, have been closed since 2009 and are not included as that material is not available to the industry. Funding for Vine Improvement based collections is reliant on cuttings sold, thus open to the vagaries of the market.
The name of this register should more properly be “Australian National Register of Grapevine Varieties, Clones and Selections”. It is not only a list of germplasm, in the vine propagation sense of the word, but of germplasm and other types of holdings- ie the larger extension rows. In addition, some of the listed clones are in reality selections, rather than clones.