AgMemo - Horticulture news, October 2019

Page last updated: Wednesday, 27 November 2019 - 9:15am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

In this edition:

Swag of medals for emerging wine varieties

New viticulture spray guide released

Keeping WA free from browsing ant

Plantago field day attracts interest in the Ord

Soil and land investigations continue in Newman

Swag of medals for emerging wine varieties

two men holding a bottle of wine
Geographe Wine Show chairman Jim Campbell-Clause (left) congratulates DPIRD research officer Richard Fennessy on department’s haul of medals, which included a gold for its Scheurebe (pictured), an emerging variety sourced from Germany.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) researchers are confident in the future of emerging wine varieties in WA, after taking home wine show medals over three consecutive seasons.

The most recent win at the Geographe Wine Show saw DPIRD awarded 10 medals for emerging variety wines, including gold for the department’s Scheurabe white (Germany) and Saperavi red (Georgia)/Fer (France) blend.

Winemaking meets research

DPIRD has been exploring the potential of emerging varieties under Western Australian conditions since 2012, when the agency partnered with the Western Australian Vine Improvement Association (WAVIA) and WA College of Agriculture Harvey to plant a trial block of emerging wine grape varieties from around the world at the college. The students have worked closely with DPIRD researchers to manage the block to a commercial standard, taking measurements during the growing season whilst learning about viticultural practices.

Since 2017, DPIRD has conducted evaluations of 22 varieties as part of Wine Australia’s Regional Program. A key feature of this work has been the production of small lot wines by DPIRD’s wine and grape research officer Richard Fennessy, based in Bunbury. Over the three years of the trial, Richard has made 47 separate wines, ranging in volume from as little as two bottles to two cases.

Demonstrating new potential

DPIRD produced emerging variety wines to show the wine qualities of the varieties, and to understand which styles best suited them. Styles explored have included dry to sweet, rosè, and light to full bodied wines.

Through the support of the Geographe Wine Show, the wines produced have been expertly assessed each year by the show’s judging panel. This September marked the final lot of wines to be assessed from this work.

The 2019 season was particularly challenging at the Harvey trial site, with the worst bird pressure researchers had seen resulting in around two thirds of the crop being lost. This was compounded by some disease pressure in the remaining crop.

Nevertheless, the 2019 wines were well commended, scoring two gold, four silver and five bronze medals from just 12 entries.

The 2019 results take the total tally to six gold, 10 silver and 22 bronze medals over the three-year trial period.

White varieties that have shown particular promise include Scheurebe (Germany), Harslevelu (Hungary), Arneis (Italy) and Pignoletto (Italy). Of the reds, Saperavi (Georgia), Carmenere (France), Lagrein (Italy), Graciano (Spain), Fer (France) and Montepulciano (Italy) were noteworthy.

Educating WA vignerons

In addition to WIN articles and web pages highlighting this work, DPIRD’s wine team has delivered over a dozen wine industry workshops and tastings across Western Australia’s wine regions, providing producers with information on the viticultural performance of the varieties and, most importantly, the opportunity to taste the wines produced under WA growing conditions.

Although Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Semillon account for 80 per cent of Western Australia’s wine production, changing consumer interests could lead to a greater presence of emerging varieties in WA vineyards over coming years.

For more information on this activity, visit the emerging varieties web page or contact Richard Fennessy, wine and grape research officer, Bunbury on +61 (0)8 9780 6219.