Harvest is well and truly underway across the state with growers reporting good quality and expected average yields. The cool nights of late have contributed to perfect ripening conditions for most.
As always there are some challenges, one of them being the current fruit fly outbreaks. Vinehealth Australia have been sharing a great deal of current information, particularly around movement requirements that apply. Please access their site for in-depth and up to date requirements.
While we’re talking about the transportation of grapes - I encourage all growers to also be mindful of our role in the chain of responsibility. Grape spillages are a serious safety issue for us and our fellow road users and one we can easily minimise through adhering to load limits and driver care. Apart from the safety issues, fruit on the ground is money lost and no-one wants that.
In other news, thanks to Landscapes SA – Limestone Coast and Hills and Fleurieu we have new EcoGrowers joining the program from Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek. We’ve also seen our first batch of species signs installed on some of our EcoVineyard sites. These signs contain pictures and explanations of the planted native trees, bushes and grasses and offer fabulous information for visitors and tourists. Read our article below to learn more. You can also follow the EcoVineyards project via our dedicated EcoVineyards Facebook page or on the EcoVineyards page on our website. Keep an eye out for the announcement of our new EcoGrowers!
The plant pledges continue to roll in. We recently had a pledge of 300 plants from Eliza at Lansdowne Wine in the Adelaide Hills which brings our total to 27,309! As always, if you have been out planting, let us know by pledging your plants.
While you’re spending hours in tractors and harvesters over the next few weeks, why not listen to the new Australian Grape and Wine Podcast Series covering a range of Industry related topics and guests. Have a listen on Apple or Spotify and let them know what you think.
Finally, don't forget your camera while you're out harvesting this year. We had our first entry in the vintage photo competition from Jono in Clare Valley and it was quite creative (keep reading to see the pic!). We love seeing how vintage is going for you, send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy picking and stay safe!
Wow, already we’re in February and the early stages of harvest are underway in some of our regions with others gearing up for the busiest time of the year.
Demand and pricing projections are variable depending on the region, variety, and grade of the fruit with most members I’ve spoken to expect an average to slightly above average crop yield. Unfortunately, not everyone escaped the hot day in late January and that along with a lack of summer rain may influence some bunch weights and overall yields in selected areas.
As always, we strongly encourage our grower members to keep in contact with their winemakers, contractors, and transport operators as vintage creeps closer. Communication and strong relationships are key to achieving the best outcomes for everyone during this extremely busy time.
In other news, the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) recently emailed our grape grower members on behalf of WGCSA, seeking their views on the future contribution method of the SA Grape Grower Industry Fund (SAGGIF).
I encourage all independent grape growers who currently contribute the $1/tonne payment to the SAGGIF to check their inboxes for the email and supporting information. WGCSA is keen for all members to have their say by participating in the short 3 question survey.
The survey is open from 22nd January 2021 – 19th February 2021 and takes approximately 5 minutes to complete. Your response will be collated by PIRSA and the results provided to WGCSA for consideration. The survey results are confidential and will not include your personal details.
If you are a contributing member and have not received the email from PIRSA, please email us at email@example.com and we will ensure that you receive the information and opportunity to be involved.
Wishing all our members and stakeholders a very safe and successful vintage 2021.
I can hardly believe it’s the end of November, what a crazy year 2020 has been for everyone. Never have I felt more thankful one day and incredibly worried the next, it's been that sort of ride.
Our lead article this month includes valuable information and a step-by-step guide on how growers can register a security interest over grapes sold to a winery. These documents have been prepared for the Wine Grape Council of SA (WGCSA) by Piper Alderman.
Although they offer a significant amount of information, they are of a general nature. WGCSA encourages members to seek their own legal advice where further detail or assistance is required.
For WGCSA members who would like help in registering a security interest on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) Piper Alderman is offering a member-only fixed price deal (conditions apply). Please email Bianca Jennings at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on (08) 8205 3406 to find out more and secure the special price.
Over several years WGCSA has been reviewing and consulting on the calculation method of the SA Grape Grower Industry Fund. This fund has been set at $1/tonne since 2007 which the council believes is not equitable and no longer viable to maintain the level of work and support carried out at the state and national level.
WGCSA continues to hold two critical memberships on behalf of our independent SA Wine Grape Growers. The first is with Primary Producers SA (PPSA), the peak body for South Australian agriculture and the second is Australian Grape and Wine (AGW) the national body for the grape and wine industry.
These two memberships provide us access and opportunity to share, collaborate, consult and advocate more efficiently for growers on state and federal issues including with government departments.
At the national level Australian Grape and Wine (AGW) is continuing to work hard addressing issues that affect growers including bushfires, drought, COVID-19, geopolitical tensions, code of conduct, anti-alcohol lobby, taxation, transport and water to name just a few. As we’ve seen lately, these issues can have a huge impact on growers and must be managed well and with adequate resources.
WGCSA is concerned that the critical workload at both state and federal level continues to rise and the funding remains at the same level as 2007.
Shortly, we will be asking members to consider a change to the calculation method of the SA Grape Grower Industry Fund from volumetric to ad valorem. WGCSA believes this will deliver a fairer method of calculation and help provide ongoing support, additional resources, and increased advocacy at the state and national level for SA wine grape growers.
PIRSA have kindly agreed to facilitate the distribution of information and the online ballot on behalf of WGCSA to all current members.
We strongly encourage you to consider the proposal and have your say through the ballot process. In the end, it must be the members who ultimately decide the future direction of their industry bodies.
We hope to have this information and ballot out to members prior to Christmas so keep an eye out for further details in due course.
Through all the challenges of 2020, one thing is certain – life goes on, and so I look forward with optimism to a great summer and fantastic 2021 for you all.
Note: Our office will be shut from 24th December to 1st January inclusive.
The Wine Grape Council of South Australia (WGCSA) held our Annual General Meeting on 22nd October where Barossa Wine Grape Grower Adrian Hoffmann was appointed as the new Chair.
Adrian is a sixth generation Barossan and current custodian of the family vineyards. Adrian describes himself as a professional, hands on wine grape grower managing 135 hectares of vines, supplying to around 30 wineries. ‘All great wine is made in the vineyard and that requires great planning, hard work and critical decision making’ said Adrian.
Adrian has been the Barossa representative on the WGCSA for 4 years and is keen to progress with the good work previously delivered from the outgoing Chair and council. ‘As an Industry we need strong and professional advocacy, none of us can sit back and wait for others to do all the work.’
Outgoing Chair Heather Webster was praised for her 3 consecutive terms as Chair of the Wine Grape Council of SA and as the Langhorne Creek representative for 10 years. Her valuable contributions including her commitment to good governance, professionalism, and a focus on culture were highlighted along with her unwavering support and collaborative approach in delivering one national body for all of Industry in the formation of Australian Grape and Wine (AGW).
Thank you, Heather for your tireless work over many years - you will be missed.
Also farewelled at the AGM were councillors, Andrew Press, David Travers, Hamish Laurie and Brett Proud – all have provided valuable input and expertise to the council and I thank them for their insights, guidance and support.
New councillors include – Nick Price from McLaren Vale, Rebecca Burgess from Langhorne Creek, and Troy van Dulken from Clare. Riverland representative and Grower Sheridan Alm will continue as a highly skilled and valued Councillor.
The new council will meet in the coming weeks to discuss and prioritise the important work to be continued under Adrian’s Chairmanship.
We’re pleased that the South Australian Government is developing a new Biosecurity Act for South Australia, through Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA).
A strong and workable biosecurity system in South Australia is critical for our future.
The new SA Biosecurity Act will merge several existing pieces of biosecurity legislation into one, with the aim of creating a simpler and more effective legal framework for the management of:
One of the Acts that had been tabled for inclusion was the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Act 1995 (Phylloxera Act), which is now to be excluded from the Biosecurity review.
The decision to exclude the Phylloxera Act followed significant feedback from the grape and wine industries via the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA), the Wine Grape Council of SA (WGCSA) and Vinehealth Australia.
The Minister for Primary Industries David Basham recognised that the decision of whether or not to include the Phylloxera Act in the new Biosecurity Act, or to remain as separate legislation, must be at the discretion of the viticulture and wine industries.
The Minister also stated that the wine industry has the flexibility to exercise this choice at any time during the drafting and review of the new Biosecurity Act. This is a good outcome for the South Australian wine industry, which has such a strong biosecurity history, reputation and record.
The wine industry is well served by the Phylloxera Act. With the foresight of our past champions of viticulture, this Act, the only one of its kind in Australia, could well be the reason for the focus and efforts that South Australia has undertaken since 1898 to keep our viticulture assets free from phylloxera and other pests and diseases.
The wine industry continues to show strong support for the Phylloxera Act, and the work of the staff and Board of Vinehealth Australia.
With the review of the Biosecurity arrangements, the wine industry must actively participate to ensure that the new legislation is as effective as possible and fit for purpose. We must also evaluate what changes, if any, are required in the future for the Phylloxera Act.
This wine industry participation will enable us to make informed decisions as to whether the Phylloxera Act should be included in the Biosecurity Act, or remain as a standalone Act, to ensure the best outcomes for our industry.
With increasing biosecurity risks on our doorstep, our system must remain strong.
The review is expected to develop a new Biosecurity Act over the next six months, with the process commencing with the release of a Technical Directions Paper in the next month.
We will keep you informed throughout the process. For more information, contact:
Wine Australia released the 2020 National Vintage report earlier this month, providing an overview of the Australian 2020 vintage.
The total crush yield is estimated at 1.52 million tonnes, 12% below the 2019 crush, and 13% below the long-term average of 1.75 million tonnes. The value of the national wine grape crush is estimated to be $1.07 billion, down 9% in 2019, however, the average purchase price of $694 per tonne was a 5% increase compared with $663 in 2019.
Closer to home the South Australian Crush Survey report is also now available. This report includes a vintage overview of the state and individual wine grape growing region in SA.
The SA crush is estimated at 651,196 tonnes, 15% below the 2019 crush, and 12% below the 10-year average. The value of the SA crush is estimated at $557 million compared with 630 million in 2019. For more detailed information, you can find both the full and summary reports on our WGCSA website.
It was a mixed bag for our wine growing regions with Limestone Coast harvest volume down by 54% and Barossa and Clare Valley down by 23% and 29% respectively. Langhorne Creek volume was down by 44%, Coonawarra down by 30% and Adelaide Hills down by 23%.
In contrast, the Riverland crush was only down 3% and further increased its share of the state's production to 71% of total volume, up from 62% in 2019. McLaren Vale was down by a relatively small 13% and became the second-largest region by volume after the Riverland
Overall, it was a challenging season for many growers with drought, weather events and water issues causing angst. For others, yields are only slightly down, and they seem relatively happy.
One thing that’s overwhelmingly consistent is the quality of grapes being grown in our SA grape and wine regions continues to be of exceptional quality. This is great news for everyone, including the growers, the regions, the winemakers, the marketers, and the consumers.
The individuality of each region is the strength of the wine industry in SA and while sometimes the fate of regions differ due to weather events and other challenges, the collective strength of the state as a whole ensures that we continue to see well-crafted, beautiful wines being made from the exceptionally high-quality grapes being grown. It’s something to be really proud of as we turn our attention to vintage 2021.
Finally, on behalf of the Wine Grape Council of SA and our Wine Grape Grower members, I would like to congratulate and welcome our new Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development – Minister David Basham. We look forward to working with you in the future.
The Australian winegrape crush in 2020 was 1.52 million tonnes – the equivalent of over 1 billion litres of wine, according to the National Vintage Report 2020 released by Wine Australia.
The 2020 crush was 12 per cent lower than the 2019 crush, and 13 per cent below the ten-year average of 1.75 million tonnes. It was the smallest crop since 2007 but was most similar in terms of yield to 2010 – a year of exceptional wines – when the crush was 1.61 million tonnes, but the vineyard area then was about 4 per cent higher than the current area.
Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said while the crop was down, wine quality was expected to be high. Autumn temperatures were generally around average or slightly cooler, leading to ideal ripening and harvesting conditions, and the reduced yields have resulted in more concentrated colours and flavours in the berries.
‘This vintage will enable us to continue to meet our targets of value growth in premium wine market segments, although the constrained supply will restrict overall volume growth in the next 12 to 24 months.’
Continuing strong demand for Australian wine is reflected in the 5 per cent increase in the average value of grapes, which has increased by a compound average of 5 per cent per year for the past 6 years.
The total value of the winegrape crush is estimated to be $1.07 billion, with an average value of $694 per tonne compared with $663 in 2019.
A smaller crop was widely anticipated given a number of seasonal factors. However, the diversity of winegrowing regions and the ability of Australian grapegrowers to manage seasonal variations and weather events moderated the impact on the vintage.
The three large inland regions: Riverland (South Australia), Murray Darling–Swan Hill (Victoria/New South Wales) and Riverina (New South Wales), which make up around three-quarters of the crush, were less affected than other regions due primarily to the availability of supplementary water. Together these regions were down by 4 per cent compared with 2019, while the remaining regions were down collectively by 34 per cent, with a wide range of individual variation.
Mr Clark said that the wine sector had made significant investments in research and development, leading to improved vineyard management techniques and water use efficiency since the last drought.
Mr Clark said crop losses due to fire and/or smoke damage were reported in around one-quarter of Australia’s winegrowing regions; however, the overall reduction due to direct damage or smoke effects was estimated to be less than 40,000 tonnes, or 3 per cent of the total crush.
Red varieties fared slightly better than white varieties in 2020, being down by 11 per cent compared with 2019, while white varieties were down by 13 per cent. Australia’s largest variety, Shiraz, decreased by 10 per cent to 376,000 tonnes and increased its share of the total crush to 25 per cent. Other red varieties to do relatively well were Durif and Ruby Cabernet (up by 9 per cent and 8 per cent respectively) while the biggest declines were for Pinot Noir (down 24 per cent) and Merlot (down 20 per cent).
The main contributor to the reduction in the white crush was Chardonnay, which was down 19 per cent to 285,000 tonnes, while Riesling had the biggest decrease in percentage terms, down 28 per cent to a 20-year low of just under 17,000 tonnes. Prosecco increased slightly, against the general trend, and moved up to ninth place in the top 10 white varieties.
‘The increase in average value for Shiraz is far outpacing that for Chardonnay, leading to strong demand signals favouring Shiraz’, he said. ‘This is reflected in our exports. The average value of bottled Shiraz exports was $9.21 per litre FOB in 2019 compared with $4.29 for Chardonnay.’
The full report can be downloaded from Wine Australia's website at: https://www.wineaustralia.com/market-insights/national-vintage-report
As members continue to navigate through a myriad of challenges it’s great to see important work and advocacy continues to be addressed by our national body - Australian Grape and Wine (AGW).
AGW is the peak national body for the Australian wine industry and represents both wine grape growers and wine producers. Following the 2019 ACCC Winegrape Market Study recommendations, AGW has been working closely and collaboratively with the ACCC, a number of winemakers and grower groups to implement improvements in standard form contracts, particularly in relation to wine grape quality assessments, and how contractual disputes are managed.
In parallel to this work, Australian Grape and Wine is also focussed on improving and modernising the voluntary Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct. A new committee has been appointed with equal representation of winemakers and growers. All are working to build a strong united code which is fair, equitable and mutually beneficial to all.
The Wine Grape Council of SA supports AGW to advocate on behalf of South Australian wine grape growers and is pleased with the progress being made in addressing what can be complex challenges. We look forward to seeing a new industry Code of Conduct that is widely accepted and supported by all in future vintages.
On another note, now is a fantastic time to get some native plants in the ground. If your kids are on school holidays, why not get them planting and send us a picture.
As the leaves drop from the vines and pruning season fast approaches it is vital that we all remain vigilant regarding COVID-19 restrictions.
To help wine grape growers through this unprecedented time the Wine Grape Council has called on industry experts to provide the latest information and resources to assist growers affectively manage the necessary requirements around pruning.
We have been thrilled to see one of our initiatives with Australian Grape and Wine has resulted in them partnering with the Australian Wine Research Institute to produce a webinar for those new to pruning. The pruning workforce may look different for many this year and this webinar is expected to assist with upskilling those new to grapevine pruning.
Tune in on Tuesday 2 June to watch the AWRI's Beginners guide to grapevine pruning. Nick Dry from Foundation Viticulture will present his introduction to grapevine pruning, covering the two most common types: cane and spur pruning. The concepts of grapevine vigour and capacity will also be discussed. The webinar will be available afterwards on the AWRI Youtube page. Click here to register.
In addition to the AGW & AWRI Keeping Safe: COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for vineyard workers the South Australia government has also provided additional guidelines (featured below) and processes to help reduce the effects of the virus on your workforce and business. All guidance can be found at PIRSA and SA Health.
The state government recently launched a new Seasonal Jobs SA website to connect jobseekers and jobs in agriculture, particularly seasonal work like pruning. If you have an available position, its free to advertise or alternatively identify those looking for work. The website is a great initiative and resource – details can be found here
We've done a great job managing COVID-19 so far, let's all keep up the great work!
The Wine Grape Council of South Australia is proud to be leading the Vineyard Mapping and Assessment project with support from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA).
The project was created in response to the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island bushfires and involves the mapping and assessment of bushfire affected vineyards and providing technical advice and management options to those participating grape growers. The aim of the project is to help enable rapid recovery and return to production. The project is well underway with Colin Hinze from Rural Directions currently carrying out the on-site detailed vineyard assessments.
As part of the project, a series of free webinars organised by the Australian Wine Research Institute is being produced to assist growers dealing with these fire-damaged vineyards. The first webinar was held last week. Colin from Rural Directions discussed methods for assessing and mapping vine damage in fire-affected vineyards. To watch a recording of this webinar, click here.
There are four more webinars in this series and I encourage affected or interested growers to register and attend. All of the speakers have a great deal of knowledge and insights into viticulture as a whole. Topics include what to consider when purchasing grapevine planting material and using bud dissection as a tool for informing pruning decisions. Click here to see all of the webinar topics and to register your interest.
This project has been funded by the South Australian Wine Industry Development Scheme and was approved by the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone. The project is incredibly collaborative thanks to amazing support and input from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Vinehealth Australia, University of Adelaide, Adelaide Hills Wine Region and Rural Directions.
PIRSA continues to provide regular updates regarding COVID-19 with all past updates available on their dedicated webpage here. The advice provided is based on the best available information at that point in time and may change. For the most recent information on the State Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic visit the webpage.
Australian Grape and Wine (AGW) are currently working closely with us and others on some pruning protocols around COVID-19. With thanks to AGW, I expect to be able to share these protocols with you all shortly.
Finally, times have been and continue to be challenging for many and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. A great independent, confidential and free resource is the Family and Business (FAB) support program administered through Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA). More information on how they may be able to help can be found here.
On a positive note, opening rains over the past week has brought a much-needed reason to smile for many of us. With more of the ‘wet stuff’ forecast in the next few days, it’s a welcome sight bringing hope and opportunity to grape growers and our many agriculture friends on the land.
Stay safe and take care everyone!