​Media release

Research benefits winegrape growers

18 December 2014

A report showing an $11 return for every dollar invested in new and improved rootstocks for winegrape growers has been published today by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA).

A cost–benefit analysis of 26 research projects found the major benefits of rootstock use include improved resilience against soil-borne pests, improved water-use efficiency, reduced potassium and salt uptake, and enhanced vineyard establishment and production.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said research and development (R&D) in Australia’s rural sector had a long history of delivering impressive returns.

“This rootstock analysis demonstrates the valuable role R&D plays and should give levy payers confidence in the value of their levy investments,” Minister Joyce said.

“It’s important to measure the outcomes of R&D investment to ensure levy payers and our grape and wine sector realise tangible benefits, such as increased profitability and productivity.

“Across the country, about 31 per cent of our grapes are planted on rootstocks, with the top three varieties being Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Further uptake of the research could deliver substantial benefits to many of our wine grape growers.

“Together with the Australian Government, AGWA is focused on increasing demand, capability and competiveness in Australia's $3.4 billion wine sector,” Minister Joyce said.

The 26 research projects previously funded by AGWA, through sector levies and matching contributions from the Australian Government, represent an investment of $19 million in 2014 present value terms. It’s estimated they’ll deliver additional profitability of more than $260 million by 2040 to grape growers who use rootstocks, AGWA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said.

“Previous R&D in this area has developed several new, commercially available rootstocks and has helped us compile detailed information on other rootstocks available in Australia,” Mr Clark said.

Vineyard Manager at Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Ben Harris, said rootstocks play an important role in his vineyard.

“Rootstocks provide improved biosecurity from potential infestation, optimise wine quality and canopy balance, as well as manage different soil depth and type.

“With climate variation in mind, we’re trialling many rootstock combinations aimed at providing not only high-quality grapes, but also drought tolerance, flexibility in growing season length and ripening diversity.”

The Australian Government is expected to provide approximately $11.5 million in matching funds to AGWA for R&D in 2014–15. 

For more information on rootstock use, visit research.agwa.net.au