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This article originally appeared in the April 2017 edition of Grapegrower & Winemaker.

 

Jim Campbell-Clause presented the chairman’s report to the Western Australian Vine Improvement Association earlier this year. This abridged version covers some of the highlights of the work being carried out.


The Western Australian Vine Improvement Association has had another productive year. Orders for propagation material have increased, and the industry has advanced the introduction of new clones and varieties to their vineyards, especially with vineyard redevelopments and grafting.

The association remains busy filling orders, managing the collection, setting up new source blocks, and supporting research bodies.

The association relies on a small team of volunteers and assistance from the Department of Agriculture and Food, and has delivered the new web site (www.wavia.org.au) now hosts alternative variety information and the order form and submitted R&D funding applications.

Orders in 2016 were higher and more than 10,000 cuttings were distributed. The majority were alternative varieties, including; Aligote, Arneis, Biancone, Barbera, Montepulciano, Carignan, Furmint, Harslevelu, Grüner Veltliner, Lagrein, Kardarka, Sciacarello, and Saperavi.

There were also orders for Nebbiolo, Durif, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Shiraz.

The Manjimup Horticultural Research Institute (MHRI) Germplasm collection and MHRI Alternative Variety Trial block continue to play a vital role in the association’s ability to supply material to industry of these emerging varieties and clones.

An important role of the association is to source new and improved varieties and clones and to set up source blocks to provide a supply of material for industry.

 

These resources provide interstate customers with clones and varieties they have been unable to source from anywhere in Victoria or South Australia.

An important role of the association is to source new and improved varieties and clones and to set up source blocks to provide a supply of material for industry. We are pleased to report that several new source blocks have been set up including; Saparavi I11V10, Montepulciano FSAC and Vermentino H62-1LN.

The Germplasm collection was boosted with the introduction of Flora, a hybrid of Gewürztraminer and Semillon developed in California by Olmo which produces a full bodied aromatic wine. The association is also working on importing Assyrtiko.

The ‘Genomic basis of Clonal Variation in Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Grape’ project, managed by Dr Michael Considine of Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) and University of Western Australia is progressing. The goals of the project are to determine the genomic basis of clonal identity of elite Cabernet Sauvignon clones via whole genome sequencing of 12 clones; from which markers will be designed to distinguish between them. A further goal is to explore whether molecular differences exist between clones in relation to biosynthesis of known wine flavour and aroma precursors.

Genomic data from 10 clones has been analysed and the progress made points to significant variation within a vine. Work is now concentrating on sequencing several shoots of one vine only, and using this to look at DNA, RNA and epigenetic variation. This has clear implications for variation seen within a vineyard (or even panel).

The association continues to support Di Fisher of DAFWA with progressing the CSIRO project to establish a database of DNA tested Germplasm collections nationally. The database will include information about: variety, clone, accession code, DNA confirmation, history, virus status etc. and will eventually be available for online access.

The Western Australian Vine Improvement Association expects the use of improved clones and varieties in Western Australia will deliver improved quality, productivity and profitability for the industry.

 

The association submitted opposition to the proposed changes to Biosecurity Australia from a state-based system to a national system.  The association believes a change to a national system would leave the viticultural industry in Western Australia more prone to importation of pests and disease.  WAVIA continues to support AVIA.

Richard Fennessy hosted a field day, with association committee members assisting, at the Harvey Ag College in the Wokalup Alternative Variety Trial block. The field day was aimed at allowing members of the WA wine industry to view the growth habits and bunch characteristics of the 22 varieties within the block. Growers were then able to discuss the varieties, their potential and the availability and access to propagation material from the association.

The Western Australian Vine Improvement Association expects the use of improved clones and varieties in Western Australia will deliver improved quality, productivity and profitability for the industry. And the association will continue to help with sourcing, propagating and distributing improved propagation material.

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