Wine Industry Newsletter

WAVIA Chair Report

February 2021 to January 2022

The year 2021 was a challenging vintage. A wet and humid end of summer and autumn caused unsuitable ripening conditions and resulted in fruit losses to disease throughout the region. The global pandemic continued to disrupt trading conditions, and locked borders caused labour shortages. China, our largest export market, applied a tariff to Australian wine.

Despite the difficulties the fruit market was resilient. Improved fruit demand has seen strong demand for propagation material, and the Western Australian Vine Improvement Association's (WAVIA) role to source, produce and distribute high-quality propagation material to businesses continues to be important.

WAVIA continues to rely on a small team of dedicated volunteers and assistance from DPIRD, I want to thank those on the committee from industry and DPIRD. I would especially like to thank Chris Harding, Patrick Bertola, Colleen Gillespie, and Steve Partridge for all their hard work on ensuring propagation material ordered and collected are clean, true to type, distributed in a timely fashion and meets client expectations.

Thanks also to Jock Riddell and Clint Robertson for their contribution to the management committee. Unfortunately, Stephen Kirby, Lyn Metcalf and Lee Haselgrove have left their roles on the committee, and we thank them very much and wish them all well with their new paths.

We are very grateful to Richard Fennessy from DPIRD and staff for their support and assistance. Richard continues to assist on the committee and has initiated more of his research and development in vine improvement. Many thanks to Ian Guthridge, Manager of the Manjimup Horticulture Research Institute (MHRI), for his team's work with the Germplasm collection and assistance with cutting and distributing propagation material. Special thanks to Lisa Starkie for her work at the MHRI.

We are pleased to report that after many years of working with the Harvey Agricultural School, WAVIA is involved in developing a new block at the school that will include small source blocks of a number of alternative varieties. We thank the School Principal, Stephen Watt and his team for continuing the association with WAVIA.   

Orders supplied in 2021 totalled 29,358 cuttings. Orders were delivered to the Swan Valley, Margaret River, Geographe, Perth Hills, Peel, and Victoria and South Australia. Most orders could be filled from source blocks, including the WA College of Agriculture in Harvey (5649 cuttings), but the Manjimup Horticulture Research Institute was an important source of Germplasm material.

This year, orders were of improved clones of traditional varieties, including Cabernet, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Chenin blanc and Verdelho. WAVIA had orders for many alternative varieties, including; Aligote, Arneis, Barbera, Bastardo, Carmenere, Carignan, Cinaut, Fiano, Furmint, Gamay, Graciano, Grenache, Grüner Veltliner, Harslevelu, Lagrain, Lambrusco, Mataro, Melon, Meunier, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, Pignoletto, Rousanne, Schereube, Saparavi, Sangiovese, Sciacarello, Tannat, Tempranillo, Touriga, Vermentino, Viognier and Zinfandel. 

WAVIA received orders for rootstocks including 1103 Paulsen, 110 Richter, Ramsey, 101-14 Millardet, 140 Ruggeri, Schwazmann, 5C Teleki, SO4 and some table grape varieties. Unfortunately, demand for rootstock varieties well exceeds what WAVIA can supply. Colleen Gillespie did a great job of collecting, packing and dispatching all the material for the orders.  Jock Riddel organised shipment of interstate orders.

Source Blocks continue to be important sources of propagation material, and WAVIA is keen to continue to work with growers to develop new source blocks. Particular thanks go to Green Door and La Fattoria for supply from their source blocks. If you are planting new clones or varieties and are interested in planting a source block, please discuss this with a WAVIA representative. ARM's source block of 22 new and emerging varieties is progressing well. DPIRD, together with industry and WAVIA have worked together to develop three clonal trials. A Riesling clonal trial at Forrest Hill Vineyard in the Great Southern, a Malbec clonal trial at a Fogarty Wine Group Vineyard in Wilyabrup in Margaret River and two Pinot Noir clonal trials in Pemberton/Manjimup are being planned.

The Riesling trial will include Old heritage mass selection Riesling used prior to 1962 and the 1968 and the 1969 introduction of Geisenheim clones 110, 198 and 239. The Malbec trial will include six clones BX1056, Kalimna 1, CW14, E2V3, C6V11 and the old Houghton selection. Two Pinot Noir clonal trials are set up in the Pemberton/Manjimup area. Both are triple replicated randomised blocks at Woodgate Wines with 10 clones (114A, 115, 386, 521, 777, Droopy, G8V3, D5V12A, MV6, 667) grafted onto Pinot Noir G5V15 and Ten Chains Vineyard with 14 clones (114A, 115, 386, 521, 777, Droopy, G8V3, D5V12A, MV6, 667, 18Gm, D2V5, D2V6, G5V15) grafted onto Sauvignon Blanc.

Richard Fennessy of DPIRD has been busy with other vine improvement activities, including making small batch wines of three of five new alternative varieties from Nicola Estate in the Swan Valley including Mencia, Prosecco and Nero D'Avola. The first wines were made from the Howard Park Cabernet Clonal trial of 14 clones.

WAVIA participated in the national workshop for the Certified Standard Project. The national project is being managed by Nick Dry from Foundation Viticulture and funded by Wine Australia. WAVIA will continue to participate and will adopt the standards as much as possible when they are ready.

WAVIA is an industry partner for the "Protecting Australia's wine-grape germplasm through genomic testing” project. The project aims to develop a database for DNA identification of specific variety/clones for industry. Variety/clonal samples have initially come from the Germplasm collection.  The WA Grape Germplasm Collection and Alternative Variety Block at MHRI continue to be seen as important repositories at a state and, now at a national level and, are well managed by the staff at DPIRD with help from WAVIA. Virus testing again shows that the Germplasm collection is clean. 

WAVIA continues to keep in touch with state and national issues. WAVIA has requested that the Post Entry Quarantine facility in South Perth be maintained as an essential service. WAVIA continues to be a member of VINA and, through Steve Partridge, keeps in touch with issues that affect WA and WAVIA. WAVIA continues to be supportive of re-establishing a national vine improvement peak body. 

WAVIA continues to seek new people interested in vine improvement to join the committee. The WAVIA committee wishes everyone all the best for vintage and the coming year.


Jim Campbell-Clause