Grassy booze discussion last week from Michael Markarian and inderpal singh. Thanks gents!
This week: New threats of phylloxera
What regions are most recently affected by the louse and why? What are their plans of action? Is it all bad or is there a silver lining?
Victoria has discovered Phylloxera this year in March. Genetically identical to the bugs found in Yarra. The Aussies have a great communication method and plans in place for the louse - quite impressive once you dig in. There are exclusionary zones as well as protocols for materials in and out of the vineyard to reduce contamination and spreading. Love the "on farm bio-security" term.
Can you shed any light on this ?
Jane Lopes Jonathan Ross
Hey Nick! Lots of fun stuff here. So the St. Andrews vineyard is within the Yarra Valley. It sits in a part of the Yarra known as a Phylloxera Risk Zone (well, until now). The Yarra is the most infected GI in Victoria, and Australia. Parts of it, especially the valley floor near Lillydale and Coldstream are all infected. The upper Yarra is at risk, and vulnerable to poor hygiene practices.
There are quite a few at risk zones around Victoria. They are mainly centered around the south eastern portion of Victoria. I bottled a Micro Wines Pinot Gris this year with fruit from the Mornington Peninsula-a phylloxera at risk zone, but i process in Geelong-a phylloxera free zone. I needed to do a few things.
Geelong is phylloxera free (the last time it had phylloxera they burnt every single vineyard to the ground), and it needs to stay that way.
When working in the Yarra Valley, winery practices become paramount. One essentially must assume that the winery, its equipment, the workers, and anything that passes through it is contaminated. We were taking in fruit from all over the Yarra, as well as from the Strathbogie Ranges.
I have found that the regions afflicted by phylloxera take the most care. Vineyard bio-security measures vary greatly across producers. When i visited Hill of Grace, our tour guide didn't ask us to step in a foot-bath to sanitize the bottoms of our shoes. And, he owned the vineyard! At Bannockburn, the winemaker lovingly scrubbed the soles of my shoes with a bleach soaked wire brush.
I think Phylloxera will continue to spread slowly across the Yarra and its surrounding regions. its impossible to kill it off at this point. There are some natural boundaries that should protect western and northern Victoria. Its South Australia that really needs to ensure their security. We don't talk about high quality fruit produced from Cabernet or Pinot Noir vines, and those in Victoria and WA are not all that old. The old Grenache, Shiraz, Cinsault and Mataro vineyards of South Australia are one of the wine-world's great treasures, and they need to be protected.
Thank you so much for the time and effort in such a thorough response Jonathan Ross!!
Thanks for all of this detail, Jon! So interesting.