As advised in our April e-news, we are eagerly waiting to taste the first wines produced from the Coonawarra Rootstock Trial and to be able to match observations gathered during the field walk in March to wine preferences determined during a range of tastings.

April was a flurry of activity at the trial site, with collection of a range of canopy and fruit measures from the eight rootstocks (110 Richter, 140 Ruggeri, 1103 Paulsen, Ramsey, Börner, M5512, M5489, M6262) and own-rooted control, to provide us with scientific information to relate to tastings of trial wines, and results from the field walk this year.

Sampling the Coonawarra Rootstock Trial

Measures collected from across the randomised, replicated trial rows included Leaf Area Index (LAI) and porosity, bunch number per vine, weight per vine, weight per bunch, weight per berry, berry number per bunch, bunches per vine with visual bunch stem necrosis damage, ranking of number of second crop bunches dropped and berry anthocyanins, phenolics and tannins.

April 8 and 9 also saw successful hand harvest of the trial grapes for winemaking, for which we’d like to thank a number of key people and organisations for their field assistance. Kerry DeGaris, Treasury Wine Estates; Olivia Nunn, Coonawarra Vignerons; Chris Brodie, Wingara Wine Group; Peter DeGaris; Ben Culligan, Treasury Wine Estates; Balnaves of Coonawarra for donating three hand pickers to the team and Martin Wirper, Treasury Wine Estates for organising four handpickers.

Picking trial fruit. Photo courtesy Coonawarra Vignerons
Unloading harvested fruit

The grapes were picked into buckets in rootstock order by the team, transferred into labelled coloured crates and packed into the hire van and then driven to the Australian Wine Research Institute where they were cold stored overnight before being crushed the following day.

We’d like to thank John Gledhill and his team at the AWRI for their attention to detail with the winemaking and we look forward to a range of wine analyses including cations and chloride, wine anthocyanins, phenolics and tannins and pivot profile analysis.

A full report will be completed on the trial once we have the wine results and statistical analysis has been completed.

Winemaking at AWRI for the Coonawarra Roostock Trial


The Coonawarra Rootstock trial, established in 2009, is a long-term joint venture between Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), Vinehealth Australia and Coonawarra Vignerons, with significant funding this year from the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council through Wine Australia to contribute to the winemaking costs.