Water and wine

Following last week’s Water Worries column a number of growers have contacted the association to in support of a ‘Water Issues Meeting’. CIT have also indicated they will participate. Some have suggested it may be timely to reform SARC, the SA River Communities Group that represented the region’s irrigators so successfully in the run-up to the MDB Plan.

Details have not yet been agreed but arrangements will be notified in the coming week. More members, both growers and winemakers are urged to contact RW if they want to participate to discuss their concerns and suggestions.


Riverland Wine EO Chris Byrne said “The feedback so far indicates that those growers who have done the sums to work out the extra cost for water inputs for this growing season are very concerned. Several have estimated, depending on circumstances, the incremental cost of growing grapes for the 2016 harvest could be $100/tonne or more”.

Clearly there are no easy solutions. One suggestion is that RW could develop a simple ready reckoner (tool) to assist growers in estimating incremental water costs for the 2016 vintage. Others recall that in the 2007 growing season winegrape prices were issued roughly three months ahead of the normal time to enable growers to make arrangements to lease additional water.

Circumstances have changed a great deal since then with many being in less favourable financial circumstances and less likely to be able to borrow to maintain normal yields.With temporary water prices at about $300/ML it is decision time for many. It might make sense for others to lease much of that water out for a guaranteed income albeit that mothballing grapevines successfully is more easily said than done.

Over the coming week Riverland Wine will develop an agenda and invite those who’ve expressed an interest to come together to consider options and actions.

More info via email

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