Vinehealth Australia and Wine Yarra Valley are running a 1.5-day Phylloxera Immersion Tour to the Yarra Valley in November, where participants will see phylloxera firsthand.

To be held 26-27 November, the tour will also allow participants to learn about the impacts of phylloxera, see the visual impacts of phylloxera-infested vineyards, hear about the latest science and learn how they can avoid infestation.

Phylloxera was first detected in the Yarra Valley in December 2006. The Phylloxera Infested Zone (PIZ) boundary has been redrawn seven times since then as new infestations have been reported.

Rob Sutherland, viticulturist at De Bortoli Wines in the Yarra Valley, says the financial impact of phylloxera in the Yarra Valley has been estimated at about $1 billion, based on replanting nearly the whole region to rootstock and accounting for losses due to production lag. This figure would rise further when other factors such as loss of brand continuity, business value and compliance costs are taken into account.

“It’s clear that in spite of significant efforts to contain phylloxera in the Yarra Valley, it is not working,” said Rob, who will speak to participants of the Phylloxera Tour. “Phylloxera is ahead of any zone or line on a map.”

Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Lee said the Phylloxera Immersion Tour was a valuable opportunity for members of the wine supply chain, including growers, winemakers, contractors and suppliers, to educate themselves about phylloxera, which has been called the world’s worst agricultural pest.

Phylloxera is established in parts of Victoria and New South Wales and has previously been detected in Queensland. South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania are phylloxera free.

A lack of available chemical or biological control for phylloxera means there is no treatment for a phylloxera-infested vineyard. The only option is to pull out the vineyard and replant with new vines that have been grafted onto phylloxera tolerant or resistant rootstock.

 Vinehealth Australia is calling for registrations of interest to attend the tour. Numbers are limited so register your interest by emailing training@vinehealth.com.au.

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