By Andy Young

Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, has announced a new $3m project to reduce the impact of controlled burns and wildfires near wine regions.

The three-and-a-half-year project, called “Mitigation of Climate Change Impacts on the National Wine Industry by Reduction in Losses from Controlled Burns and Wildfires and Improvement in Public Land Management”, is a collaborative project between Wine Australia, the Australian Wine Research Institute, Agriculture Victoria and LaTrobe University. 

The project will examine practices and advanced technologies to safeguard the supply of grapes and improve profitability for Australia’s grapegrowers. Outcomes from the project for the grape and wine sector will include: 

  • The development of an early warning system for smoke exposure, which will enable the targeted application of protective sprays in vineyards at risk of smoke exposure.
  • Determining the critical distances that reduce the risk of controlled burns to vineyards. 
  • The development of practical technologies and processes that prevent smoke taint compounds entering the grapes, and removing these compounds from grape must and wine.

Wine Australia’s CEO, Andreas Clark, welcomed the announcement and said that the $3 million project will help Australian grapegrowers and winemakers to manage a problem that affects many wine regions globally. 

“It’s vital that we’re able to provide the Australian grape and wine community with innovative and cost-effective tools to minimise the unintended impacts of controlled burns and wildfires’, Clark said. “Depending on the stage of the fruit’s development, smoke from controlled burns and wildfires can affect winegrapes so that they develop tastes such as smoked meat, disinfectant, leather or char. It is an issue that affects many wine regions across the world. 

“By investing in this research, we will help the Australian grape and wine community’s competitiveness by reducing the risk, ensuring the certainty of supply and improving profitability in our sector.”

Clark added: “This project will also help public land management agencies to implement effective planned burn programs that have a significantly lower chance of unintended negative impacts on winegrapes. 

“We look forward to delivering this project’s practical outcomes that will help contribute to a prosperous Australian grape and wine community.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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