A key transportation and biosecurity risk during vintage is spillage of grapes and grape juice onto roads. With the onset of vintage, Vinehealth Australia and SAWIA have clarified the correct lines of reporting for grape spills on public roads should they occur.

Grape spills pose a hazard to the public and can be difficult to clean up. Vehicles can lose traction on a grape spill and grape residue can make roads sticky and gluey. Grape spills may commonly happen at night or in the early morning, being more difficult to see.

The size and type of a grape spill will impact the level and complexity of the clean-up required. A leaking tailgate where grapes and juice may have slowly leaked across the road over some distance, is likely to differ from a concentrated pile of grapes caused by a sudden stop or turning too fast around a corner.


The onus is on carriers to report spills as they occur. The carrier must wait at the spill location with hazard lights on to alert other road users until assistance has been provided. In line with chain of responsibility regulations, carriers need to have spill kits on board.

For grape spills in non-quarantine areas or where biosecurity risk is unknown, SAPOL must be the first point of call for managing or assisting clean-up.

  • For major spills or accidents which will be associated with a significant road hazard (for example those approaching 0.5 tonnes or more, loss of a grape bin from a truck, or a motor vehicle accident), call SAPOL emergency on 000 given the need for an immediate response.
  • For minor spills up to 0.5 tonnes requiring non-urgent police assistance, call SAPOL general enquiries 13 14 44. The wine industry is expected to coordinate the removal of very minor grape spills where safe to do so.

If the grapes are associated with potential biosecurity risk, this adds another level of complexity to managing a spill. For example, a grape spill inside a known quarantine area such as the Riverland fruit fly affected area, requires PIRSA to be contacted immediately on (08) 8207 7820. PIRSA will then work alongside SAPOL to ensure the spilled grapes are disposed of in line with quarantine requirements.

Where SAPOL is requested onsite to coordinate the incident, they will contact Transport SA Traffic Management on 1300 872 677 for subsequent clean-up if the spill occurs on a state government road. Alternatively, SAPOL will contact local government for subsequent clean-up if a spill is on a local government road. The local CFS/SES may also be contacted to clean up the spill. Similarly, local vineyard and wineries may be called on for more immediate assistance.

Where a carrier has cleaned up the spill, the road may remain sticky and slippery, so proper cleaning of the road may still be required for road safety.

Chain of responsibility

Growers, carriers and wineries have a chain of responsibility requirement to prevent leaks and spills from occurring.

To minimise the risk of grape spills, growers and carriers must ensure grape bins are filled to prevent spillage. This means grape bills are filled no higher than 200mm from the top of the bin. If the harvested grapes are particularly juicy, there is an obligation by growers to minimise the risk of a grape spill, by ensuring greater clearance between the height of the bin fill and the top lip of the bin.

Wineries and carriers also have an obligation to take leaking and punctured grape bins out of circulation until the damage has been repaired, to minimise the risk of grape spills.

Growers must notify carriers of any leaking tailgates to ensure the leak can be fixed before the next delivery. Carriers also have an obligation to report leakages to the receiving winery as soon as they become aware, especially where the consignment involves cartage of biosecurity risk material.


If frequent grape spills are reported in a region, these are likely to be reported to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) who may impose additional monitoring and regulatory response.

A new industry Code of Practice

To better manage the risk of grape spill and other transport hazards, a new Registered Industry Code of Practice (Code) is being developed by SAWIA in partnership with Australian Grape & Wine Inc (AGW).

Development of the Code is possible thanks to funding from the 2020-21 Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Federal Government and administered by NHVR. SAWIA and AGW have completed the initial consultation phase of the project and have worked with the NHVR and an industry reference group to draft the Code. Once drafting is completed, it will be released to industry and other stakeholders for consultation.