Vinehealth Australia is part of a team of organisations helping Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island vineyard owners with bushfire recovery efforts, by creating digital vineyard maps to show the distribution of damage across blocks.

The work is part of the Vineyard Mapping and Assessment Project, which is being funded by Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) via the South Australian Wine Industry Development Scheme and led by the Wine Grape Council of SA. The aim of the project is to help enable rapid recovery and return to production for impacted growers.

Colin Hinze from Rural Directions has been contracted to carry out onsite vineyard assessments of partially burnt vineyard blocks in the Adelaide Hills. Colin has visited participating affected growers, discussed fire impact and looked at the recovery work already undertaken.

Field assessment included geolocating and scoring every vine’s fire impact, based on the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) classification of fire damaged vines.

This data was shared with Vinehealth Australia’s GIS specialist Brendan Tully, who applied the fire damage data to vineyard maps from the Vineyard Register, to give each affected vineyard owner a clear picture of the fire impact across their blocks.

“The value to the grower is that they can visualise the extent and distribution of the damage (see example provided). This will assist the decision-making process – for example, what to do this winter, which fundamentally comes down to a pruning decision or a remedial action decision,” Colin said.

“Every vineyard block was burnt differently, which has influenced the degree and distribution of vine damage, and the response.”

Following the mapping work, the AWRI hosted a webinar series that informed growers about their options in recovery. This has covered interpretation of the maps, vine selection for replanting, bud fruitfulness trials and winter pruning options.

Project stakeholders include PIRSA, AWRI, Vinehealth Australia, SARDI, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide Hills Wine Region and Rural Directions.

Vinehealth Australia also played an active role alongside PIRSA and Adelaide Hills Wine in responding to the bushfires in December. Using the Vineyard Register, we identified affected growers in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island regions, by overlaying vineyard maps onto fire scar maps provided by the CFS. These growers were contacted to assist in gauging the scale of immediate damage to the wine industries in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island.