New clones should prove to be winners

Over the last three years, Riverland Wine in collaboration with Riverland Vine Improvement Committee (RVIC) and Yalumba has been funding an extensive trial of new grapevine clones being grown under Riverland conditions.

‘But what’s wrong with the old ones?’ I hear you say.

Over time grape varieties (like many plant varieties) can develop subtle differences, typically through mutations. So, a variety like Cabernet Sauvignon which has been grown for hundreds of years in many areas around the world may be a little different from one area to another. While for example, everyone has heard of clones that don’t crop well (you may have some on your property), other characteristics are also important. By testing selections from Australia and around the world there is an opportunity to identify the best performers under our Riverland conditions. These are then propagated with the individual selections forming the basis of each ‘Clone’ and the resultant vines will be identical to (clones of) the original selection.

The idea of trialling the clones is to identify either better performers (better yields or quality etc) or clones which have specific marketing advantages. So far, some very interesting characteristics have been identified which gives us confidence that the trials will be successful. This will enable Riverland Wine members to be confident that future plantings or replants will have a higher probability of success.

Of course it is not just about growers, it’s important to ensure that wine makers see the benefits also. To date they have identified some with outstanding potential. Of note is the fact that many of the winemakers, when tasting the wines made from the trial clones were identifying and matching characteristics with potential markets. Clearly, some of the trial clones are exhibiting unique characteristics which can be matched directly with specific markets, another important key outcome for the trial.

In all 57 clones of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot are being trialled with the selections from a number of countries.

A recent and exciting new development is that the value of this work has been recognised and Riverland Wine is in negotiations with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) in Adelaide to assist in completing this work. If all goes according to plan, the AWRI will provide their expertise and world-class facilities to speed up and make the evaluation process more efficient, leading to earlier results and availability.

The best clones grown in the Riverland… delivering great wine to the world… now there’s an idea!

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