Meander Valley Gazette

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Fruit fly unpalatable

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

MARCH 2018 | Antonia Howarth-Wass

THE 2017 vintage in Tasmania was a good one, with dry and warm temperatures at the finish of the season allowing some wines to reach their full potential. Altogether, nearly 13,200 tonnes of grapes were produced with 32% going to sparkling wines and 68% to table wines.

Of these, production was 52% red and 48% white. Prices rose from 2016 to nearly $3,000 per tonne for pinot noir with $100 per tonne less for chardonnay and compared to the Mornington Peninsula, about $1,000 more than from the Barossa and up to $1,500 more than from the Adelaide Hills.

The price rise for premium quality grapes has been exponential and has grown by more than $500/tonne since 2013.

Recently, the north has been hit with an infestation of fruit fly, with larvae first being found on nectarines in a supermarket.

There are at least 14 species of fruit fly, but the ones most likely to damage Tasmanian produce are the Queensland fruit fly and the Mediterranean fruit fly from WA.

These are unlikely to cause the same damage in Tasmania as elsewhere, the Dept of Primary Industries says, but even low levels of infestation will damage export trade.

The State government has mobilised efforts to stop further importations of mainland fruit and vegetables, particularly from one distributor in Victoria, but further contamination has been found.

The question as to whether vineyards are susceptible is relevant. Fruit from vines can carry the larvae and, if found on bunches, it would mean the need to destroy an entire crop.

This makes the movement of product from vineyard to winemaker specially relevant and, being a common practice in the north of the State due to the high number of small producers, the risk of contamination is high. This makes for exceptional vigilance until the problem is contained and eliminated.

Of particular importance to growers is that this problem has struck at veraison (maturity) and when picking and processing is well under way.

Whether or not vineyards are affected at this stage remains unknown, but growers are determined to ensure that stringent standards are observed and any infestations, if found, are contained.

Meanwhile, the Vintage 2017 according to the Chair of The Wine Tasmania Technical Committee, is looking to be one of the greats. “There has been fantastic depth and flavour and aromas across all varietals while retaining brilliant acidity,” he says.

Overseas, Jancis Robinson, author of Wine Atlas of the World in addressing the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium in London, stated that for her, the standout for her was a little place called Tasmania.

There is reason for much optimism, which is why the fruit fly problem must be eradicated.

Action in the event of discovery - the larva are approximately 3mm whitish grubs that inhabit the flesh of fruit. When found, notify the Department of Primary Industries as quickly as possible. Call their Biosecurity Tasmania team on 6165 3774.

Photo | Mike Moores