With the enactment of the Phylloxera Act in 1899, the Phylloxera Board (as we were then known) was required to maintain a ‘Vigneron’s roll’ containing the particulars of vineyards planted in South Australia.

The ‘Vineyard Register’ as we call it today, has therefore been in existence for almost 120 years and the value of this register in enhancing our ability to work with industry to safeguard the health of our vines is extraordinary.

How we maintain currency of the SA vineyard register   

We have two main ways of ensuring the accuracy of the Vineyard Register at all times, as follows:

  1. When vineyards are sold, it is a legal requirement that the ownership details are updated with Vinehealth Australia. All land parcels with grapevines in the ground are subject to a Section 7 Notice. Vinehealth Australia is notified of the settlement date at least 10 working days prior to settlement and issues a settlement report to the conveyancer or lawyer along with a change of ownership form. Both the completed change of ownership form and payment in full for levy money owing to Vinehealth Australia is required to be returned before transfer of the property can take place on the Vinehealth Register. This link of our register to sales is extremely powerful and imperative to maintaining its accuracy.
  2. We send out annual records of the information in our register to all registered owners as an ‘Annual Return’ for them to check and advise of changes to planting and ownership details. This is a reminder beyond the three months, according to the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Act 1995, in which registered owners are required to notify Vinehealth Australia of any changes of increased vineyard ownership, new plantings, extension to areas of a current vineyard plantings, or of vine removal.

Some recent uses of the register for biosecurity purposes

Keeping a register of planting details in terms of variety, rootstock, age, area and ownership by location means that we can use these details to the betterment of industry for biosecurity purposes.

  • Our communications and awareness activities are strongly focused on feedback we receive directly from growers and this is key to maintaining relevance and working towards sustained behavioural change in terms of farm-gate hygiene adoption.
  • In spring 2017, our vineyard register was integral in facilitating traceback and traceforward as part of a targeted diagnostic testing program to determine the status of Grapevine Pinot Gris virus (GPGV) in SA.

    The GPGV surveillance approach focused on conducting health status checks of high priority material, in particular:
    • Propagation stocks (both germplasm and regional source blocks) as a means of predicting potential spread through commercial vineyards;
    • Commercial vineyards that have reported to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline vines with symptoms similar to those associated with GPGV; and
    • Vineyards identified with potential links to existing infected vines, as determined through trace back and trace forward audits.
  • In late 2018 when Queensland fruit fly was found in Loxton and Vinehealth CEO Inca Lee was at a joint government-horticultural industry meeting in the area and was asked to describe the potential impact of this outbreak on the wine industry, she was ready.
    • Having all vineyards geospatially mapped we were able to quickly produce quarantine area maps and count the number of wineries and vineyards inside the outbreak and suspension areas. We were then able to download the corresponding contact details from these producers and call them to ascertain the volume of fruit they envisaged moving that vintage and communicate specific movement requirements as a result of the fruit fly outbreak. This direct link to vineyard owners allowed us to hasten the communications to improve rate of preparedness and also to obtain details about carriers in the regions whom we were subsequently able to contact. Having this powerful data at our fingertips put us in a far better position than other horticultural industries that did not have direct contact with their growers and enabled us to represent their concerns more easily.    
  • On an annual basis, Vinehealth Australia acts alongside regional associations as an intermediary between the state Department for Environment and Water (DEW) who undertakes the prescribed burns program and vineyard owners. The autumn prescribed burns program in SA commonly coincides with the tail end of vintage in some of our cooler regions, especially the Adelaide Hills. Vinehealth contacts every grower within a predetermined radius of a prescribed burn to advise of DEW’s impending burns and to discussa grower’s risk of smoke taint based on unharvested fruit and communicates this back to DEW.. 
  • The vineyard register can also be used to pull out interesting statistics on the industry as follows:
    • As at 30 April 2019:
      • 60% of registered vineyard owners have a property size of less than 10 hectares and 84% have a property size of less than 25 hectares;
      • 27% of total area under vine is planted to rootstock across the state, with the Riverland having 45% of vine area on rootstock;
      • There was a 0.09% decrease in vineyard area in SA to 75,488 ha compared to the previous year; and
      • Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay accounted for 71% of the total area planted to vineyards.