We’re thrilled to share a summary of our work and performance in 2021/22. Make yourself a cuppa and enjoy reading about the work that Vinehealth Australia has done to keep your vines and the South Australian grape and wine industry safe from destructive pests.

Inca Lee, CEO of Vinehealth shares her reflections on 2021/22

In the past 24 months, the grape and wine industry has admirably navigated challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical forces, seasonal weather conditions and rising cost pressures.

Within this operating environment in 2021/22, Vinehealth Australia has worked tirelessly to ensure that the South Australian grape and wine industry doesn’t encounter another significant burden; being a biosecurity shock of a significant pest or disease that devastates the health of vines.

A year into our current strategic agenda, significant work continues to nurture existing and forge new partnerships with industry and government to deliver biosecurity expertise aligned with our statutory functions. These include:

  • Deepening our support for grape and wine businesses to implement on farm biosecurity practices
  • Ongoing counsel and support to PIRSA in managing biosecurity outbreaks and incidents, including significant resources directed to the fruit fly outbreaks
  • Engagement with State and regional grape and wine associations
  • Strengthening links with the South Australian Vine Improvement Association (SAVIA) through priority areas to support production of high health propagation material

On behalf of the South Australia grape and wine industry, we have invested considerable time into shaping regulatory issues that are of significant importance to the health and operation of vineyards.

These include providing advice to PIRSA regarding the gazettal of the Mornington Peninsula as a Phylloxera Exclusion Zone, the deregulation of Grapevine Pinot gris virus, establishing with PIRSA a pause-point system for business accreditation relating to movement of winegrapes in the presence of fruit fly, and defining the scope for improved national phylloxera management. We take a scientific, risk-based, practical approach to these matters which serves the interests of South Australian grape and wine businesses, and that of the broader wine industry.

Our dedication to influencing these regulatory matters, despite acknowledged headwinds, is unwavering.

As required under our governing Act, significant time and resources continue to be devoted to maintaining the Register of all vineyards 0.5 hectares or larger in South Australia – which includes maps of vineyards, planting, location, and owner information. A unique asset of the State, and admired by other sectors, the Register was deployed in 2021-22 for key biosecurity preparedness, prevention and response activities. It also provided key foundational information to support government activities, including storm response, prescribed burns, bushfire response and water allocation planning.

Looking ahead, it is vital that the opportunity to transform the Register and unlock and accelerate the use of information held, is realised. With funds set aside to invest in this digital transformation initiative, we will be actively seeking co-investment in 2022-23.

Mindful of the operating landscape for the wine industry, sustainable funding for Vinehealth to perform our statutory functions to the level expected by industry and government, remains unresolved. A considered conversation is required in 2022-23, reflective of the rising biosecurity risk facing the South Australian grape and wine industry.

This risk was noted in Vinehealth’s 2021 Vineyard Owner Survey, with 72% of respondents being concerned about the exposure of their business to a biosecurity risk. Pleasingly however, on average a 12% increase (2021 cf. 2018) was reported in the adoption levels of nine out of ten important farm-gate hygiene practices by respondents. This trend is significant.

We were also thrilled that vineyard owners see the value in the work that Vinehealth is doing, with 94% of respondents to the survey agreeing that Vinehealth’s activities are vital in protecting South Australia’s vineyards and the wine industry against significant pests and diseases. Our communication, singular focus on grape and wine biosecurity and independence are highly regarded.

Our legislative powers provide us with a unique view into government and access to information on incidents and outbreaks that cannot always be provided to industry given confidentiality requirements. This enables us to proactively shape biosecurity activities, policy and legislation of government for the benefit of the South Australia grape and wine industry.

I am privileged to work alongside the Vinehealth team; their expert advice to myself, industry and government drives exceptional biosecurity outcomes. I also thank the Chair and Board of Vinehealth for their strategic oversight and counsel.

We are continuing to work hard for you in 2022/23 to deliver the services and support the South Australian grape and wine industry expects and needs.

Vinehealth’s Annual Report including audited financial statement will be available on our website once it has been tabled in Parliament (November 2022).

Read the 2021/22 Performance At A Glance document here.