Wine Industry Newsletter

Alternative variety harvest underway

Students picking alternative grape varieties
Students from the WA College of Agriculture picking alternative varieties at the evaluation block

The second season evaluating 22 alternative wine grape varieties grown at the WA College of Agriculture – Harvey is well under way.

College staff have been recording key phenological dates throughout the growing season and now that harvest has begun, students are becoming involved in counting bunch numbers and harvesting the fruit.

As at 26 February 2018, ten varieties had been harvested and on their way to be made into small lot wines.  

Summary of varieties harvested 2018
Variety Harvest date Weight (kg)/vine Bunch weight (g) Bunch/vine Berry weight (g) t/ha Baume pH TA
Brachetto (Rose) 1 Feb 3.01 174.9 15 1.4 5.6 13 3.37 7.6
Scheurebe 5 Feb 5.45 136.5 40 1.9 10.1 11.3 3.30 5.3
Arneis 5 Feb 3.36 165.9 20 1.7 6.2 12.5 3.23 6.5
Savagnin 5 Feb 8.80 153.9 57 1.4 16.3 11.3 3.19 7.6
Fiano 5 Feb 0.90 100.1 9 1.2 1.7 12.7 3.14 7.4
Pignoletto 5 Feb 2.60 122.0 21 1.9 4.8 11.6 3.27 7.2
Dolcetto (Rose) 13 Feb 10.41 922.3 47 1.5 19.3 10.4 3.22 5.7
Vermentino 13 Feb 8.61 297.3 29 3.3 15.9 11.3 3.18 6.2
Scaicarello 13 Feb 2.55 258.4 9 3.2 4.7 13.8 3.43 7.0
Fer 15 Feb 1.51 155.0 10 1.1 2.8 13.8 3.73 -

Overall, the fruit has been in excellent condition with no significant incidence of disease observed to date.

This year the varieties were not thinned, so to show the extent to which the variety can yield, however some bunches were removed to allow sufficient airflow into the fruit zone.

Not all of the 22 varieties will be harvested this season. Pinot Gris is included in the block but due to the size of the area planted in Australia it is no longer deemed an alternative. Sangiovese (Brunello Di Montalcino clone) will not be harvested either as the vines are still establishing.

An important component of this activity is to extend the information collected over the season and to allow producers to taste the different varieties.

In the last five months Research Officer Richard Fennessy has conducted workshops (including tastings) in the Great Southern, Geographe, Blackwood Valley and Margaret River regions and a field walk at the demonstration site.

Participants at the recent Blackwood Valley Workshop
Participants at the recent Blackwood Valley Workshop.
Research Officer Richard Fennessy
Research Officer Richard Fennessy offered tastings at the Harvey demonstration site field walk, held January 2018

These workshops and field walk will continue once the 2018 wines have been bottled and assessed by the Geographe Wine Show judges in September 2018.

There is a forum planned for September/October to discuss and explore the potential of alternative varieties.  Stakeholders throughout the value chain will be invited to participate.

This activity is funded through the Wine Australia Regional Program and supported by the Wines of WA technical committee and Western Australian Vine Improvement Association. 

For more information contact Richard Fennessy, Research Officer on +61 (0)8 9780 6219

WA wine research focuses on small producers and collaboration

wine barrels
Curtin University researchers are studying ways small producers can achieve benefits of scale and share transportation costs

Common issues for small wine producers who wish to grow and expand market reach include scale and cost. Yet, there may be options to ease the impact of these two issues.

In a Wine Australia funded ‘Incubator Initiative’, Curtin University researchers Kristina Georgiou and Jeremy Galbreath are studying the potential of collaboration among small producers to achieve the benefits of scale and to share costs.

Specifically, the researchers are investigating collaboration between smaller wine producers in regards to the transportation and logistics of shipping wine.

Twenty interviews involving both wineries and transportation/logistic providers have provided preliminary findings for the project.

According to Ms Georgiou, most of the wineries interviewed believe that there are benefits to engaging more in collaborative approaches to business.

Such benefits include cost savings due to economies of scale and new revenue streams due to opportunities to explore new export markets through sharing transport services. However, challenges remain in that a coordinated effort, and the processes needed for timely collaboration, are not easily solved.

The next step in the research project is to further explore data from the interviews and putting forth recommendations that can benefit the WA wine industry.

These findings and recommendations will be highlighted in a future edition of the Wine Industry Newsletter.

Is grape phylloxera affecting the health and yields of your grapevines?

Grape phylloxera feeding on a grape root
 Grape phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae (magnified) feeding on a grape root (image courtesy of K, Powell, DPI Victoria)

Is grape phylloxera affecting the health and yields of your grapevines? I hope not, as the causal insect, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, has not been recorded in Western Australia.

But how confident are you? Have you seen groups of vines showing general decline in health? What did you do - take photos, record where and when you noticed this? Did you investigate what was causing the decline, or continue on with your current task and make a mental note to look back again later?

Grape phylloxera is one of several exotic pest issues that are considered significant concerns for grape production in WA should they become established.

It is found in many production regions around the world and one strain is established (but under containment) in some grape production zones in New South Wales and Victoria.

There are quarantine measures in place to minimise the likelihood of it being brought into WA accidentally on grape plant material, machinery or equipment.

Biosecurity procedures have been developed to assist you to minimise the likelihood of it getting onto your vineyard – the WA Viticulture Biosecurity Manual.

There are biosecurity measures in place for the containment zones in Australia to prevent grape phylloxera from spreading from these zones, yet progressively these containment zones have grown. This demonstrates that even with solid biosecurity procedures in place that nothing is 100% guaranteed. But if any new occurrences are found early enough, steps can be taken to contain (or potentially even eradicate if in a totally new area and found early enough) to minimise the impact on grape production.

This highlights the continued need for vigilance with monitoring, reporting and investigating of any unexplained health issue with your vines.

WA has the pest reporting tool, MyPestGuide Reporter to make reporting of any grapevine health issue quick and easy, so take advantage of this tool to help protect grape production. This can be taken with you into the vineyard as a mobile app on your phone, so you can make a report of any health issue on the spot, rather than try to remember to do it later.

General deterioration of a patch of grape vines within healthier vines as a result of grape phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae infestation (image courtesy of Vinehealth Australia)

Not sure if you know what grape phylloxera or affected vine symptoms look like?

Descriptions and images of pest issues that might be found on grapes can be found in the field guide MyPestGuide Grapes.

The latest version, released in December 2017, has 200 profiles, including pest bugs, diseases (both currently found in WA and those still exotic to WA like grape phylloxera) and beneficial bugs (so you know what you don’t need to control) and comes in a handy mobile application that you can carry with you in the vineyard and an online version that you can use in the office.

Remember that biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility and the reporting of pest issues is an essential part to help protect your livelihood, the grape industry, the state’s economy and the environment.

The WA Viticulture Biosecurity Manual and the MyPestGuide suite of biosecurity tools have been developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development as part of the Boosting Biosecurity Defences project and supported through Royalties for Regions.

For further information contact Alec McCarthy, Development Officer on +61 (0)8 9780 6273

Protecting our industry through pest response

Queensland fruit fly
Queensland fruit fly

Responses to exotic pest detections play an important role in protecting the State’s horticulture industries, including our table and wine grape sectors.

A recent example is the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) response to the detection of a single female Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) in the Fremantle area.   

The Qfly was discovered in a department surveillance trap in January 2018 in a residential area just east of the Fremantle CBD.

The department immediately commenced an eradication program. To date there have been no further detections.

Table grapes are regarded as a poor host for Qfly. While Qfly is able to complete development in many table grape varieties, most publications do not list table grapes as a host for Qfly, or at best an occasional host for Qfly.

Wine grapes are a different story, with damage to wine grapes indicating they are a suitable host, although not preferred. Other host fruits in the area, as well as seasonal conditions could affect their susceptibility.

Research is required to test the suitability and preference of different varieties of wine grapes versus other known Qfly host fruits.

DPIRD’s response to the Fremantle detection has included regular visits to all properties in the area surrounding the detection to bait host trees and check traps.

A Quarantine Area was also established within a 1.5km radius from the detection, which covers all of Fremantle, and parts of East and North Fremantle, and White Gum Valley. This will remain in place until 18 April 2018, provided there are no further Qfly detections.

There has been extensive communication to residents in these areas to not move home-grown fruit and vegetables to areas outside of the Quarantine Area, and of the approved methods through which ripening and fallen fruit should be regularly disposed of.

Following the detection, there was suspension of Qfly Area Freedom within a 15km radius of the detection (Suspension Area).

This means that host fruit cannot be exported from within this area without treatment or other approved protocol, although there are currently no commercial producers of host material in this area.

Western Australia’s Area Freedom from Qfly, which underpins market access for a range of produce, remains in place.

Qfly is found in parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and occasionally in South Australia, and now recently in Tasmania. It attacks a wider range of fruits and fruiting vegetables than the endemic Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly). These include chillies, tomatoes, strawberries, avocados, passionfruit, capsicum and eggplants.

Host suitability and preference for Qfly varies greatly between different fruit species.

The damaging stage of Qfly is the larva, which feeds within the fruit.

Fruit can also rot through fungal decay around wounds in the fruit surface caused by the adult female stinging and laying eggs.

Fruit is most susceptible to attack as it approaches maturity.

If you suspect you have seen Qfly, or any other unusual pest, there are a number of reporting options:

Make an online report 

Use the MyPestGuideTM Reporter app 

Phone: +61 (0)8 9368 3080


Round three of scholarships for innovators now open

Applications for the Agriculture and Aquaculture Entrepreneurship Program are now open.

The Western Australian government is committed to supporting innovation, jobs and sustainable practices in agriculture and aquaculture.

Western Australia’s $6.8 billion agriculture sector has huge potential to innovate by working with highly skilled scientists, researchers and international leaders.

This program, provided by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI), offers scholarships to Western Australian farmers and individuals in the agriculture or aquaculture sector of up to $30 000 each to develop and pursue their idea through travel and other activities that help them learn from Australian and international best practice or leaders in their field.

Round Three of the Agriculture and Aquaculture Entrepreneurship Program is now open and closes 12pm on 3 April 2018.

If you live in regional Western Australia, work in agriculture or aquaculture and you have a new idea, invention, technology or practice that you want to investigate, you may be eligible.

You can find out more about the program and whether you are eligible to apply by reading the Agriculture and Aquaculture Entrepreneurship Program Applicant Information Form

You can also take part in an information session by phone or in person. To find out more please email

For your application to be eligible, you must apply using the Application Form for Round Three.

It is a good idea to contact the department to talk about your project and eligibility before you apply. For more information please contact  Jane Gilligan +61 (0)8 9222 0755 or Helen Hitchcock +61 (0)8 9222 0740 or email

Round two recipients 2017

Four scholarships were awarded in the second round of the program:

  1. Justine Arnold from Indian Ocean Fresh Australia will lead a small team of experts on a 'Knowledge Quest' to Japan to access the knowledge of Japanese kingfish farmers and researchers, their management strategies and techniques developed for warm water kingfish culture and to gain insights into skills and techniques required for the rapidly emerging aquaculture industry in WA.
  2. Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and Maxima Pearling Company have commenced a research and development project to trial rock oyster production in the Pilbara. The award will enable travel to established edible oyster production areas in South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania to build networks and facilitate technology transfer from these areas to the local environment in the Pilbara.
  3. Tim Hyde and Rod Campbell of Indicina Pty Ltd to travel to Queensland, New South Wales and the United States of America to gain an understanding of the Agtech sector with regard to water and nutrient management requirements of various agricultural industries and the potential integration of its technology SWAN System.  The trip will also be an opportunity to discuss business arrangements with potential resellers and to investigate data synergies with in field hardware and the capacity to upload data onto SWAN System.
  4. Mr Anthony Quinlan of Soil Dynamics to travel to Spain to investigate and develop a collaboration with the production company who will manufacture protypes of micro fibre bands for use in food crop protection, and to China to investigate impregnation of the micro fibres with organic insecticides to improve efficacy of the product.

All of the successful applicants will return to Western Australia to share their experiences and knowledge within their sector and regional WA.

For more information please contact  Jane Gilligan +61 (0)8 9222 0755 or Helen Hitchcock +61 (0)8 9222 0740 or email

Applications for Advanced Wine Assessment Course scholarship now open

Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology

The 2018 Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) Scholarship to attend the Advanced Wine Assessment Course (AWAC) administered by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) is now open.

The ASVO Scholarship is a nationally competitive scholarship which offers high-achieving individuals an opportunity to undertake vocational or professional development in wine assessment.

The ASVO Scholarship is part of the highly valued ASVO Awards for Excellence program which has attracted a high calibre of entrants and are now recognised within the industry as a demonstration of expertise for wine industry professionals to aspire and achieve.

The ASVO awards aim to promote excellence through recognition and reward of high achievers in innovative practice; those who are striving to raise practice standards and, individuals who, through their professionalism, provide a model of practice which others seek to emulate.

The ASVO scholarship will be offered to one talented individual to attend the AWRI’s highly regarded, four-day intensive Advanced Wine Assessment Course.

Applications are online, open to all fields of study and there is no age limit for applicants. 

Applications for the 2018 Scholarship close on Friday 4 May 2018

Further information is available on the ASVO website.  

WA Wine Tourism Strategy

Wines of WA have applied for funding to benefit the fine wine regions of Western Australia

Over the past six weeks, Wines of WA worked to develop a submission for a state grant under the Federal $50M wine industry support package.

Wines of WA worked with Regional Associations and their in-region partners and stakeholders to identify key strategies and resulting projects to be funded via the competitive grants component of the package.

The main aim at state level was to identify commonly held strategies and align these across regions. In doing so, there will be two benefits: economies of scale/reduction of duplication in implementing strategies/tactics and; greater collaboration between regions to amplify the impact of the implementation of strategies/tactics.

The state grant application has many collaborators, contributors and supporters.

Key in developing and supporting an aligned state-wide strategy were Tourism WA and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Geographe, Blackwood Valley, Southern Forests and Great Southern have all aligned their strategies and support into the state grant. Perth Hills and Peel have provided input to the development and support the state strategy.

SCOOP digital has been engaged as commercial partner to deliver a comprehensive digital platform available to all regions and producers to be integrated into their promotional activities aimed at driving visitation and spend in region.

Margaret River Wine Association and Swan Valley and Regional Winemakers, in collaboration with their regional partners and stakeholders, have also submitted applications for competitive grants under the package.

Wines of WA has worked with each region to ensure alignment with the state package. We will continue to do so as the strategies are further developed and implemented to ensure we amplify results to the benefit of the fine wine regions of WA.

The completed state grant application package has now been submitted. On confirmation of receipt of the application, Grant Programs Manager Justin Ross commented, ‘terrific job.’

Thanks to all who have contributed to the process. Acknowledgement must also be noted to AgKnowledge for their expertise and work. Agknowledge were commissioned by Wine of WA to complete the state grant application and provide support to the regions as required.

Contact Larry Jorgensen for more information or if you would like to discuss the initiative in greater detail.

Travel grants available from Wine Australia

logo of Wine Australia

Wine Australia is inviting applications for its travel bursaries, for travel commencing between 1 July and 31 December 2018.

Travel bursaries can fund travel, study tours or conferences to develop your knowledge and skills in your area of research, and to network with the international research community.

The purpose of the travel must align with the Wine Australia RD&E priority areas and demonstrate benefit to the Australian wine sector and/or existing research.

Applications for Travel Bursaries are made available twice a year.

The closing date for those travelling between 1 July to 31 December is Friday 6 April 2018.

For further information refer to the application guide or contact Wine Australia on +61 (0)8 8228 2000.

Future events

People at wine industry event
Come along to upcoming events

Understanding Dynamic Supply Chain and Network Optimisation, Bunbury 5 April 2018

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is hosting a free seminar as part of the Investing in our Future Industry Development Series presented by world-leading expert Dr John Gattorna.

The seminar will:

  • Explain what Dynamic Supply Chains are and detail how they are developed from a theoretical perspective
  • Elaborate on what the future holds including the role of blockchain and how it will impact on all industries in the future

These concepts will be considered in the Western Australian context, highlighting the importance of an efficient and effective logistical infrastructure and systems to an export orientated state.

Dr Gattorna has recently consulted with several WA based companies and will use this experience to provide real life examples and learnings.

Dale Miles, Supply Chain Manager V&V Walsh, will present on their experience and provide a practitioner’s view as to how the theoretical modelling work has been used in their business.

The event will be held on Thursday 5 April, 12.30pm to 2.00pm at Maker+Co, 75 Victoria Street Bunbury.

Registrations can be made online.

Exploring clones forum – Margaret River, June 2018

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will be hosting a clone forum in Margaret River in June.

This forum will provide producers with the opportunity to taste a number of clones of key varieties and hear from guest speakers sharing experiences and information on clonal performance in Western Australia and interstate.

The program is currently being prepared and will be disseminated through various channels once finalised.

For more information or to express an interest to share your own experiences of clonal performance please contact Richard Fennessy, Research Officer on +61 8 9780 6219.

Pest and Disease Seminar – Mildura, Victoria, July 2018

The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) Mildura Seminar has brought together Australian and international researchers, growers and consultants for more than three decades, creating a forum to reflect on the wine sector’s achievements and exchange ideas to further advance the adoption of innovation to increase profitability and sustainability.

The Mildura Symposium is the premier science symposium in Australia and attracts delegates from across Australia and from all around the World.

The 37th mid-year ASVO seminar will be held in Mildura on the 25-26th July 2018.

The annual seminar for this year will focus on the management of pests and diseases.

Pest and disease management has been a hot topic across the industry for several years given the challenges faced from changing weather patterns, limited agrochemical options and exotic species.

Attendees at this year’s seminar will have the opportunity to gain an insight into the latest research from both Australian and international speakers on topics ranging from managing existing pests and diseases, exotic pest prevention and enduring vine health for future vineyard productivity.

The seminar will also include the latest research on the topic along with a strong practical element on practical implementation.

The program and online registration will be available closer to the event.

More information is available at the ASVO website.