Protecting our vibrant local industries – Maggie says play your part
My love for where we live is no secret. The Barossa has given me so much since Colin and I first moved here nearly 40 years ago.
One of our first forays into becoming ‘local’ was to start growing grapes, and it remains an important part of our lives. The Mediterranean climate we have here in the Valley produces robust and flavoursome wines that the region has become world-famous for; most notably shiraz, but we also have beautiful cabernet sauvignon, grenache and merlot coming out of the Barossa, along with some wonderful riesling. It is an environment well worth preserving.
Harvest time is always a hive of activity, with literally thousands of tonnes of grapes moving to wineries from around February until the end of April, or later, depending on the season. Wineries in the Barossa process local fruit, but they may also process grapes; not only from other regions within South Australia, but also areas of New South Wales and Victoria.
These movements of wine grapes across state borders present a risk of moving unwanted pests and diseases. South Australia and other states and territories have strict quarantine laws that work to safeguard our vibrant regional industries, including wine production areas.
A key pest of concern in Australia is a tiny aphid called phylloxera. Phylloxera is well established overseas, where it has decimated grape production. Movement of this pest into new regions can cost growers up to $20,000 per hectare in lost production. It’s a frightening prospect, especially for the number of artisan producers we have here in the Valley who rely solely on small pockets of fruit for their distinctive handmade wines.
Large parts of the Australian wine industry are designated as phylloxera exclusion zones, and we all have a role to play in protecting vineyards from this nasty pest. When you are travelling around Australia, be mindful when you see signs warning of it. Please don’t carry grape material, potted vines, shoes or anything that has been in a vineyard past these signs.
If you plan to visit any wineries on your travels, you can help out by taking notice of some basic farm gate biosecurity steps, like ensuring your shoes are clean and free of mud, and not carrying grapes, plant or soil material from one vineyard to the next.
Remember, it only takes one tiny aphid hitching a ride to pose a very real threat to the livelihood of growers and their families, not to mention the potential damage to the beautiful regions themselves.
Please play your part in preserving our world-renowned wines by obeying the signs and working within a few basic guidelines, so we can all enjoy that glass of Barossa shiraz well into the future.