Wine grape growers in bushfire affected areas of South Australia have been offered subsidised smoke taint tests in an attempt to allow growers to gain a better understanding of the impact of smoke on their vines.
The South Australian Government’s Wine Industry Development Scheme has developed a $330,000 recovery package which includes providing smoke taint samples to individual growers.
The scheme will also fund a longer-term smoke taint research project and undertake a project to survey and assess damaged vines.
Smoke taint is when vineyards and grapes are exposed to smoke which can result in wines developing smoky, burnt or ashy characters which is typically displeasing to consumers.
Many hectares of land has been destroyed in South Australia alone, with Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills suffering some of the worst damage.
“The Government will work with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) to offer free smoke taint samples to wine grape growers prior to vintage providing them with data so they can make informed workforce decisions,” Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said.
“This will help growers get the information they need as they rebuild their businesses and get back on their feet.
“Along with tourism, the primary industries sector is pivotal to the economic recovery of the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island and that’s why we are offering this assistance.
“Smoke taint laboratory tests normally cost $300 per test, so being able to support wine grape growers to access this service at a time when cash flow has been severely impacted is important.”
The news of a $330,000 recovery package aimed at helping growers better understand and recover from smoke taint has come as welcome news for growers as loss of income from smoke taint is not currently included in the eligibility criteria for the $75,000 bushfire grants announced by Government last week.
While South Australia vineyards has been hardest hit by the current bushfires, growers across Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory have also been impacted by the fires with the industry facing a national grape shortage.
Soaring water costs and a hot, dry climate are also likely to have an impact on growers this season causing the SA representative group, Murray Valley Winegrowers to call on growers to demand higher prices for their product.
““It is becoming evident across the Murray Valley that vineyard removals and crop reductions due to the heatwave and water crisis will mean a lower crop this year, so we are stressing to growers they should fight hard for every dollar they rightfully deserve,” Murray Valley Winegrowers Chairman Peter Crisp said.
“Growers should hold off accepting first price offers or signing supply agreements until we all have a real production picture – in short, we expect prices will continue to improve and growers will not get any benefit unless they demand better prices from their winery.”