The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) held its regular Mildura Seminar on July 22 and 23. It was titled ‘Vineyard Longevity: maintaining the asset’, and was a successful event.
Speakers discussed issues relating to economic challenges, biotic challenges, other threats such as salinity and soil health, and business adaptability for survival. Topics included managing trunk and other wood diseases in vineyards, dealing with climate extremes, managing soil nutrition and carbon levels, business diversification and marketing, and opportunities with disease-resistant grape vines.
The keynote speaker was Dr Kendra Baumgartner, from the United States Department of Agriculture in Davis, California. Dr Baumgartner and Mark Sosnowski spoke about management techniques and the economics of disease management or vineyard removal and re-establishment. While trunk diseases are less prevalent in warm inland regions of Australia than they are in cooler regions, this can still be an important consideration with susceptible varieties, such as Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Management techniques include avoiding pruning during cold and wet weather and combining with chemical treatments where necessary soon after pruning. This is particularly important when conducting pruning operations where large cuts are made in the vine wood.
Stuart McNab, formerly of Treasury Wine Estates, provided some industry analysis and predictions for the future. It was comforting to hear that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Dr Jeff Baldock from CSIRO spoke about the role that soil organic carbon holds in drought tolerance, and the impact of different sizes of carbon particles. Finally, Sue Bell from Bellweather wines and the Riverland’s Ashley Ratcliff spoke about business diversification and branding the family farm. Judging by the positive comments from delegates this seminar was well received.