Wine Industry Newsletter

DPIRD winemaking trials for 2021

With the 2021 harvest fast approaching, the DPIRD team is finalising plans for a number of winemaking trials across a number of regions.

The following provides an early insight into the planned trials for 2021.

Demonstrating how clonal selection can influence Cabernet Sauvignon wine quality      

In 2019, a Wine Australia funded initiative saw the establishment of a Margaret River trial block of Cabernet Sauvignon clones situated on a commercial vineyard. The trial includes clones G9V3, Roche 9-7, CW44, SA125, Roche 5-7, 337, 191, Roche 5-2, SA126, LC10, Roche 20-4 and LC84. These 12 clones have been grafted onto mature Cabernet Sauvignon vines (clone SA126) and will be utilised in a future national trial with similar sites established in Barossa and Limestone Coast wine regions in South Australia.

Wine Australia Regional Program funds via Wines of WA will be used to make small-lot wines from these newly grafted clones which will be presented at wine tasting workshops in the latter half of 2021. The wines will provide an early insight into clonal differences in wine attributes, vine performance will be assessed in the following years as the vines mature.

Research Scientist Richard Fennessy and Technical Officer Yu-Yi Liao
Research Scientist Richard Fennessy and Technical Officer Yu-Yi Liao preparing the DPIRD Bunbury wine laboratory for the upcoming harvest.

Demonstrating Chardonnay winemaking treatments

Inspired by the work presented by the AWRI with Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, a parcel of Margaret River Chardonnay is earmarked to undergo up to 12 different winemaking treatments. Treatments are still being finalised but those confirmed include picking at different maturities, inoculated vs wild ferment, juice turbidity prior to fermentation, skin contact, low vs high diacetyl malolactic bacteria strains and fermentation temperature. 

Comparing Merlot clones

A Margaret River producer is providing access to three Merlot clones, Q45, 181 and D3V14 to make into small-lot wines. These wines will be presented at a future workshop to taste the difference between the clones so to improve industry knowledge on the performance of these clones grown in local conditions.

Demonstrating the influence of shading Shiraz to mitigate sun exposure

A Frankland River vineyard has been utilising shade cloth to mitigate the effects of sun exposure, to further examine the benefits of this management technique small-lot wines will be made from Shiraz ripened with and without shade cloth covering. These wines will be presented at industry workshops to demonstrate the influence of shading Shiraz on wine quality and attributes.

Contact Richard if you would like further details on these activities.

Table grape project using weather monitoring to evaluate disease model

DPIRD is leading a three year project, with support from the Agricultural Produce Commission (APC) Table grape producers committee to evaluate the accuracy of commercial disease risk prediction tools.

High-tech weather stations have been installed on four table grape properties across the Swan Valley, South West and Gascoyne, measuring a number of parameters including relative humidity and temperature above and within the vine canopy, as well as wind speed and direction and leaf wetness every 15 minutes.

There has been a proliferation of decision support applications in recent years to improve fungicide use efficiencies by refining the timing of treatments to optimise effectiveness and reduce control costs.

This research project will examine the development of the fungal disease, powdery mildew, under local weather conditions and compare the data to that used by commercial prediction models.

Department plant pathologist Andrew Taylor said while there was interest among local growers in the use of commercial models to help predict the risk and severity of the disease, it was important to confirm their effectiveness under local conditions.

“Many of these tools have been developed according to the growth rate and lifecycle of the disease in major table grape growing regions in Europe and California,” Dr Taylor said.

“This project seeks to understand if the decision support tools accurately predict powdery mildew infection according to the same weather data parameters as the international applications, under Western Australia’s climatic conditions and trellis production systems.”

Overseas evidence has shown the use of digital tools can reduce fungicide treatments by two sprays per season, representing a significant cut in control costs.

“Rather than ‘reinvent the wheel’, this project will give growers confidence in the use of existing tools and their suitability for use in WA,” Dr Taylor said.

Table grape grower Philip Yukich (left) and DPIRD research scientist Dr Andrew Taylor next to one of the new weather stations in the Swan Valley being used for a powdery mildew project.
Table grape grower Philip Yukich (left) and DPIRD research scientist Dr Andrew Taylor next to one of the new weather stations in the Swan Valley being used for a powdery mildew project.

Dr Taylor said the data from the devices could be accessed in real time via a smart phone app, which would assist researchers, growers and consultants to make more informed and timely management decisions.

“The data can also be used by growers to assist issues outside of disease management, including crop physiology and water use efficiency.

 “It also gives us the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of powdery mildew control measures in WA and identify if there are any opportunities to tweak treatment strategies to improve efficiencies and reduce risk of fungicide resistance.”

For further information on this project contact Andrew Taylor.


WA Wine Export Growth Partnership - Update

The WA wine industry has embarked upon the Export Growth Partnership, a project supported by resourcing and funding from Wines of Western Australia (WoWA) in partnership with the WA Government via DPIRD, to grow the volume and value of WA wine exports, as well as the number of WA wine producers that are successfully exporting. 

Hydra Consulting, a boutique consultancy firm with offices in Western Australia and South Australia, has been appointed to establish the program ready for a full launch in 2021. They will lean on WoWA’s and their networks to identify project partnerships, validate target markets for export, create market development strategies, identify preferred supply chains and engage with the WA wine industry.

Two Info/Q&A Sessions were held on December 3rd and 8th; one in Perth and the other via Zoom.  The sessions were held to clearly outline the objectives of the program (known as “WA Wines to the World”), to elicit industry feedback and answer questions from producers and regions.  This industry-led program marks an exciting new phase in WA wine exports and is very timely in the face of a significantly changed export landscape!

Approximately 50 producers, regional representatives and stakeholders attended the sessions and there was significant engagement across both events.  A range of issues was covered - areas of particular interest included:

  • How to best approach brand messaging for the regions within a broader Western Australian context
  • Getting the balance right between brand building and sales-based activities
  • How smaller and larger producers can both benefit under the program
  • Markets that can potentially step-up to replace lost sales in China
  • The types of collaborative activities that might be considered under the program

Click on the links below for further details:

Please contact Project Lead, Liz Mencel or WoWA CEO Larry Jorgensen for further details.

Upgrade to agrochemical app

The AWRI has recently completed a project to update and merge its databases of agrochemical and MRL information into a single system. This change has improved the functionality of the AWRI’s online search facility and agrochemical mobile apps – making it possible to perform agrochemical and MRL searches from a single platform.

Users of the AWRI’s previous agrochemicals app should remove the old version from their devices as it is no longer supported and download the new app, called ‘AWRI Agrochemical and MRL Search’, from the Apple and Google app stores. The app is free to download and versions are available for both iOS and Android devices.

The AWRI agrochemicals and MRL online search facility and agrochemicals & MRL app allow users to rapidly access information contained in the current issue of Agrochemicals registered for use in Australian viticulture (often called the ‘Dog book’). These tools also contain additional information derived from the AWRI database; that is, they allow the user to search for products registered for use on targets that are not listed in the ‘Dog book’.

For more information, please contact Marcel Essling on +61 (0)8 8313 6600 or email

Screenshot of the AWRI Agrochemical  MRL Search app
The AWRI Agrochemical  MRL Search app is available from the Apple and Google app stores

New DPIRD lead fruit scientist

Dr Dario Stefanelli is a new addition at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) as lead scientist for the Fruit and Perennial Crops section. Dario’s major areas of expertise are plant and fruit physiology, management and bridging pre- and post-harvest quality.

Dario started his journey in agriculture on his family farm in Italy where he grew up around apple and stone fruit orchards.

Dario obtained his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at Universita’ di Bologna, Italy in Horticulture on pear rootstock evaluation, while also working on apple breeding and variety evaluation. He obtained his PhD at Michigan State University (MSU), USA, in Horticulture on apple orchard production and ground floor management under organic production protocols. At MSU he also continued working on variety and rootstock evaluation in apple and cherries as well as crop load management in apple and grapes.

Dario then moved to Australia in 2007 and worked for 13 years at the Agriculture Victoria Research division of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions as Group Leader in fruit physiology and organic chemistry. Specific areas of research were physiological responses to environmental inputs, fruit quality and maturity.

Dario Stefanelli
DPIRD new Senior Research Scientist Dario Stefanelli.

Dario’s area of personal interest is to work closely with the horticulture industry on non-destructive sensing technology for practical usage along the entire horticulture value chain, from field to plate.

Dario sees the future of WA as delivering high quality product to the nation and abroad through a state of the art, scientifically sound and technologically vibrant industry and he would very much like to work together with the various industries, universities and grower associations to achieve that future.

Dario is based in Manjimup and is contactable on +61 (0)8 9777 0158

Winery Logistics and Fulfilment Services

One of the major deliverables under the International Wine Tourism Grant is the development of logistics and fulfilment services for WA wineries.

RooLife is a Perth based ASX listed company which has been seconded to develop strategy for supply chain fulfilment and logistics solutions, integration with Perth Airport as the WA gateway hub, and to develop payment platforms for visitors to the regions.

These strategies will be aimed at visitors from South East Asia and China.

An initial presentation was held on Wednesday 16th December at Cape Lodge in Margaret River and with further presentations to be held in other regions based on level interest.

Stay tuned for further updates, or please contact Business Development Manager Peter Why directly for more information.

Future events

The AWRI is delivering a series of webinars in early 2021:

Quantitative methods for Botrytis grey mould detection and estimation in grapes

Thursday 28 January 2021

Estimates of Botrytis contamination of wine-grapes are typically conducted using visual inspection of the fruit but such methods are subjective and prone to error. This is particularly the case if the variety of grape in question has a tightly packed cluster with little space between the individual berries. As such it is not unusual to find that the centre of a grape bunch contains fungal rot while the exterior appears disease-free. This presentation will review some of the recent developments and alternative ways in which Botrytis contamination can be assessed and quantified. The advantages and limitations of each of the methods will be compared with particular reference to in-field situations.

Further information and registration details

The origin of Chardonnay clones with historical significance in Australia and California

Thursday 29 April 2021

The Chardonnay clone Gingin was imported into Western Australia in 1957 and has become one of Australia’s oldest recognised Chardonnay clones. While its phenotypic similarity to other Chardonnay clones has been noted, its exact origins remained a mystery. The AWRI has established a robust methodology for Chardonnay clonal identification that harnesses the detailed information provided by whole-genome DNA sequencing. This genomic technology was applied to unravel the history of this important grapevine clone by sequencing samples of Gingin and other clones suspected to be related to Gingin, including Mendoza and OF Chard. The findings shed light on the origins of these Chardonnay clones, while demonstrating the utility of the clonal genetic identification technology.

Further information and registration details

National Bushfire Conference

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Wine Australia in collaboration with the ASVO, Australian Grape & Wine and AWRI will host a national conference on the latest research findings on bushfire preparedness, smoke effects and recovery from fire. The National Bushfire Conference 2021 will feature leading researchers and be presented at several regional venues around Australia and live-streamed online. Program details will become available soon.

Further details will be available on the Wine Australia website.