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!
As we all bunker down to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it’s a timely reminder on just how challenging the start to 2020 has already been for many.
First, the devastating bushfires, grapes ruined by smoke taint, a lower harvest yield than expected and this coming after ongoing drought and water issues along with hail and frost events in 2019. Now we have the unpredictable and everchanging impacts COVID-19 is having on our daily lives and that of our wine industry friends – it’s tough out there.
I’m not going to dwell on COVID-19, however, if you’re after more analysis and how we’re responding as an industry, Australian Grape and Wine (AGW) has a dedicated webpage which is updated frequently with the latest news and resources for growers and winemakers. You can visit the page here: https://www.agw.org.au/media-and-events-centre/coronavirus-covid-19/
I’m hopeful we can all take a positive approach to the challenges facing us right now. We can't fix the damaged vines or run away from the economic loss from COVID-19 but we can try and rally around each other, continue to help through supporting our SA wineries and regions, buy wine direct, order the takeaway meal, support your local butchers and greengrocers where you can. Look out for people in your community that might be doing it a little tougher than others, set up skype, zoom or Facetime to communicate with friends and family.
No doubt we’re all in for a challenging year, lower yields are expected but there are some positives. We’ll again see fantastic quality, further strengthening the brand reputation of South Australian wine and we’re hearing that domestic wine sales through bottle shops and online are increasing as people are staying home. I’m hopeful this will at least help a little.
In other news, we’re embarking on a mapping and assessment project to help those growers affected by the bushfires, we’re continuing with collating repurposed vineyard posts to help rebuild damaged fences and we’re looking at better ways to keep in contact and share information.
We’ve recently cancelled our upcoming EcoVineyards workshops however the 24 project sites and EcoGrowers continue to plant native plants and grasses as they build biodiversity and resilience in their vineyards. We look forward to sharing more information and updates of their projects in due course.
As part of information sharing, we’re dipping our toe into ‘Facebook live’ for short updates and as a new way to keep in touch. I’m sure there will be some less than perfect attempts at this new medium but that’s part of the learning curve so I’m happy to look a bit silly for the greater good.
Finally, Halliday has put together a great resource on how we can all help the wine sector through this unpredictable time. One of our favourite ideas is to buy a new variety that you’ve not had before – I personally recommend Fiano.
Why not jump on the Wine Companion website and have some fun researching and picking a few new and interesting wines to taste – it’s a win/win for everyone.
Stay safe everyone!
There have been more reports of grape spills across SA and understandably, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is getting frustrated with our industry.
We know that most transport operators do the right thing and are equally frustrated by operators not securing their load and giving the industry a bad name.
Grape spills are a major concern to fellow road uses, our communities, the police and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
The amount of spillages already this year is totally unacceptable.
This is a serious road safety issue - as an industry, we need to do much better to protect our communities.
If you see someone doing the wrong thing, say something.
As vintage kicks in across South Australia, it’s a good time to think about how we’re transporting our precious grapes from the vineyard to the wineries.
During the 2019 grape harvest, there were some major grape spills in several regions resulting in both loss of crop and more importantly unsafe and dangerous road conditions. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has raised their concerns with industry and asked us to help get the message out about the role we all need to play to minimise grape spillages in V20.
Grapes have the potential to make roads very slippery and can cause road accidents due to loss of traction or swerving to avoid the spill. It’s important to note, transport operators can be found at fault if an unrestrained load causes an incident, even if your vehicle has long left the scene of the accident.
The high viscosity of machine-harvested grapes can be challenging to contain if not managed properly. Never overfill grape bins and if you have a new driver or transporter not familiar with grapes have a chat with them about grape movement and tips to avoiding spillages. We know roundabouts and corners are particularly prone to spills that could be easily avoided by just going a little bit slower.
We’re lucky in our Industry to have fantastic transport operators who work tirelessly during vintage and never spill a grape. Make sure you don’t put them under any unnecessary pressure by knowing your obligations under the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws.
For more information regarding proper load restraints or your obligations, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is a great resource You can visit their website here. We all have a role to play in making the roads safe for everyone – let’s do our bit.
On a positive note, I wanted to give a quick shout out to the amazing growers and regions who have been involved with collecting, cleaning, collating and bundling ‘fit for purpose’ good quality second-hand posts for donation to Kangaroo Island farmers.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to see fantastic, hardworking, caring and completely unassuming growers, donating their time and often their staff to get it done. What a privilege to see so many of our members positively contributing to the recovery of our bushfire affected friends.
It is likely post donations will continue for several months with further information to be released shortly.
For now, our focus turns to vintage and although quantity may be down, I’m hearing quality is right up there and we can expect more awesome South Australian wine from vintage 2020. I for one am looking forward to that.
Stay safe everyone!
Harvest reports are starting to come in as Riverland growers begin to pick early Chardonnay grapes. Early reports from across the regions indicate that the crop will be below average.
To say the lead up to this vintage has been chaotic for some is quite the understatement. Our thoughts remain with those who lost property or were affected by the bushfires. I’m so proud of the way the South Australian wine industry has banded together to help our colleagues during these tough times.
WGCSA along with other industry bodies has been working hard to ensure growers have access to resources regarding bushfires. One great resource, in particular, is Dr Mardi Longbottom's webinar, 'Assessing and managing fire damaged grapevines.' I encourage all growers to watch and learn.
Looking forward to Vintage 2020 and challenges remain for our growers. Access to water, frosts, uncertainty about weather events and the looming threats of pre-vintage heatwaves have all been all concerning. At this moment the skies have opened, and the rain is bucketing down after two extremely hot days. Add to the mix the potential for smoke taint in some regions and this year's harvest could be quite a mixed bag.
Don't forget to order your Delivery Despatch Docket book to make harvest easier. These are designed specifically for growers to save time and reduce mistakes. Scroll down to find out how to order.
Our EcoVineyard project continues to progress. EcoGrowers across the state are busy preparing to plant post vintage or tending to their existing plants. Stay tuned for updates about this project and future workshops as the year progresses.
We will once again be running our harvest photo competition so be sure to snap some photos while out in the vineyard this vintage. Send your entries to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The best photo as judged by WGCSA members will win a prize! Up above is a reminder of last years winning picture.
I hope that all growers have a good start to Vintage 2020, I look forward to hearing how it’s going across the state.