What a year! It’s been tough, to put it mildly, but for many of us, we’ve reflected on what’s important and found new ways of delivering services and doing business.

For Vinehealth Australia, 2020 has provided an opportunity to examine where we’ve been and where we’re going.

In 2019, we celebrated 120 years since the first Phylloxera Board was established and recognised the industry’s long commitment to biosecurity. That commitment has stood the tests of drought, fire, war, wine oversupply, vine pulls and generational shift.

Throughout, the vineyard owners of South Australia have been the national champions of biosecurity, with levy contributions funding the only organisation dedicated to wine industry biosecurity in the nation.

The absence of phylloxera and many other harmful pests and diseases here is testament to your dedication and Vinehealth’s capability.

The dedication to industry-specific biosecurity was recently underlined when the South Australian Government announced plans for a new Biosecurity Act for South Australia. The plan included the repeal of the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Act 1995 (PGI Act).

The wine industry made its position clear: our Act is vital and underpins our resilience and success. Any changes would need to deliver more value to industry.

The SA Government listened and the PGI Act was removed from the new Biosecurity Act.

This year, we’ve spent significant time identifying opportunities to make the South Australian grape and wine industries more resilient and future focused.

We’ve created a new draft Strategic Agenda for Vinehealth Australia, which is available for your review and feedback.

Our vision is that biosecurity action is integrated in every grape and wine business.

To deliver this, important work in 2020 has included the development of a ‘Biosecurity for Contractors’ training program, which will be rolled out after vintage in 2021, the development of prototypes for a foot cover solution, finalisation and rollout of the new phylloxera conditions in SA’s Plant Quarantine Standard and appointing a technology partner to build the Digital Biosecurity Platform.

A major priority for the next two years will be to realise a new funding approach for Vinehealth Australia. Conversations with industry and government will be vital.

Put simply, we are needing to do more with less to protect the state’s vineyards and a new approach to funding Vinehealth Australia is needed.

In the meantime, the team at Vinehealth Australia will continue to work hard with you, the industry, scientists and government to protect South Australian vineyards from pest and disease threats.

Wishing you a wonderful festive season and a successful 2021 vintage.

Prue McMichael
Chair, Vinehealth Australia

Vinehealth Australia Chair Dr Prue McMichael