Viticulture

Support for smoke-affected vineyards

By Country News

Victorian winemakers and wine grape growers affected by the summer bushfires will have access to expert support and technical advice, to help form decisions on their current vintage.

On May 21, Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes announced $990 000 to support a program delivered in partnership with Wine Victoria to help winemakers assess and remediate the effects of smoke exposure on wines being made from this year’s grape harvest.

The program will include online technical workshops on recognising and addressing the effects of smoke exposure, evaluation of 2020 wines by expert sensory panels, support to produce test batches for evaluation and access to a benchmarking kit to help winemakers assess their own wines.

The program will also include winemaking trials to evaluate techniques for treating smoke-affected wines and research activities to better characterise the impacts of smoke on a range of locally important varieties.

Wine Victoria chair Angie Bradbury said 2020 would be one of the most challenging vintages Victoria had ever dealt with.

“We welcome this announcement from the state government and the ongoing and collaborative nature of our relationship with Agriculture Victoria,” she said.

A steering committee made up of the Victorian Government, Wine Victoria and representatives from affected wine regions will oversee the program, which will be rolled out immediately and run until September 2021.

Committee members will include representatives from the north-east, Gippsland, central Victoria, the Yarra Valley and Mornington.

Ms Symes said she was working with Victoria’s wine industry to provide the expert technical advice they need to continue producing world-class vintages following the bushfires.

“Advice from industry suggests that smoke exposure was thankfully not as widespread as first thought — but we want to make sure winemakers can be sure they’re offering the best possible product to Victoria and the world,” she said.

The Victorian Government has also announced $1.2 million for the Wine Grape Testing Rebate Program, which provides growers with up to $1200 for smoke-exposure testing.

The rebate program remains open to eligible growers through Rural Finance.

For more information on support for the wine industry after the bushfires, visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au or phone 136 186.