Wine Industry Newsletter

Grape and wine workshops tour the regions

DAFWA's Richard Fennessy introducing the workshop program.

DAFWA recently hosted half day workshops in Margaret River and Mount Barker. Titled ‘Grape and Wine Updates’, these workshops tend to be held annually or at least every second year to present information on research and development activities relevant to WA wine producers.

The focus of this year’s program was on providing grape growers and winemakers a progress report on the Wine Australia funded national project ‘Assessing clonal variability in Chardonnay and Shiraz for future climate change’.

Being its second year of activity, WA Chief Investigator Richard Fennessy presented data collected from a number of Chardonnay and Shiraz clones being grown in Margaret River and Mount Barker from the 2014/15 season. Attendees were also given the unique opportunity to taste wines produced from the same clones grown in an array of different climatic wine regions around Australia.

Attendees of the Margaret River workshop tasted and compared Chardonnay clones that were grown in both Margaret River and the Riverland to compare how the respective clones performed in the two distinct climatic regions. Similarly, Shiraz clones grown in Margaret River and Barossa were also tasted and compared.

Tasting different clones of Chardonnay and Shiraz at the Margaret River workshop
Tasting different clones of Chardonnay and Shiraz at the Margaret River workshop.

As the Great Southern is a cooler wine region the tasting was structured differently for the Mount Barker workshop. Those who attended were able to taste and compare the same Chardonnay clones grown in Mount Barker and Margaret River. As with the Shiraz clones, wines from Margaret River and the Grampians (Victoria) were presented.

Mount Barker workshop, attendees tasting wines.
Tasting wines at the Mount Barker workshop.

An informal survey of preferences at each workshop tasting showed the Margaret River winemakers had a strong preference for the Gingin Chardonnay clone whilst the Mount Barker winemakers equally preferred the French clone 277.

Also on the workshop program was DAFWA’s Senior Entomologist Stewart Learmonth who gave tailored presentations to both regions based on their different pest pressures. Stewart spoke of progress on the development of a pheromone for apple looper, the european earwig life cycle and management options; apple weevil damage in vineyards, grape leaf rust mite and detailed a new product for controlling mealybug.

At each of the workshops a new online biosecurity surveillance and diagnosis tool for pests and diseases was introduced. DAFWA Development Officer Alec McCarthy was on hand to give an overview of this new tool for WA grape growers and demonstrated some the key functions of the app.

Larry Jorgenson (CEO, Wines of WA) spoke at both workshops giving an update of the key activities and initiatives from the state body. A key focus of Larry’s presentation was providing background and a progress report on the formation of an APC funding model for the WA wine industry. 

Presenting only at the Margaret River workshop was Curtin University’s Dr Amir Abadi. Dr Abadi presented work from a past Curtin PhD student who had recently completed a thesis examining how the use of precision viticulture tools can assist in identifying and ultimately reducing management costs.

Attendance numbers were down from previous years which is hoped not to be a reflection of the Western Australian wine industry’s interest in research and development. The feedback for those who did attend the workshops showed that they received value from attending and enjoyed the range of different topics presented.

Next year the workshops will be held in the same regions and an extensive tasting of clonal wines from WA, SA and Vic will feature again.