Vinehealth Australia (VA) will start rolling out its Wine Tourism Biosecurity Program for South Australian cellar door, marketing and tourism staff in wine regions next week.
The program will arm cellar door and tourism staff with important tools to protect vines from devastating pests such as phylloxera. With the increasing amount of tourists heading to wineries throughout South Australia there are increased opportunities for the spread of pests, diseases and weeds and this program will help staff understand how to keep vines safe.
VA CEO, Inca Pearce, said: “We have some of the oldest grapevines in the world in South Australia. Our state is free of phylloxera and many of the other pests and diseases that have decimated wine regions around the world. But increased trade and tourism means increased pest and disease risks.
“Phylloxera is a particular risk as there are phylloxera infested zones in New South Wales and Victoria. Tourists could walk through a phylloxera infested vineyard and, unknowingly, pick up the tiny insect on their shoes or clothing, then be in a phylloxera-free vineyard in another region or state the same day.
“The best way to avoid the spread of pests, diseases and weeds is to keep tourists away from vines, or to ensure their footwear and clothing is safe before entering vine rows.”
Research has shown that conversations about the health of vines are not occurring with tourists. “There is a huge opportunity to educate the community about the precious vines that create the wines they enjoy, and how visitors can help keep those vines healthy,” Pearce added.
Training will be delivered between January and March 2018. There will be individual site training at cellar doors with high tourist visitation numbers and group training in regions for smaller cellar doors.
The Wine Tourism Biosecurity Training Program is stage one of a comprehensive campaign, which also includes a public awareness campaign which will be launched in early 2018. In addition there will be tourist-friendly signage for cellar doors, to educate visitors about their role in keeping vines healthy; plus the creation of six ‘best practice’ cellar door sites in South Australian wine regions featuring purpose-designed tourist signage, and Vinehealth Cellar Door Kits with footwear disinfestation equipment, shoe covers, rubber boots and educational materials.
“This is an exciting campaign that has received resounding support from wine regions across South Australia. This will set a precedent for vine health campaigns in Australia,” Pearce said.
“The Wine Tourism Biosecurity Program in particular will create a legacy for regions, with knowledge passed on to key people in each region to continue training cellar door and tourism staff. We want vine health to become part of every conversation in wine regions around Australia.”
The program is funded by VA and Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, with additional support from the South Australian Wine Industry Association.