Biosecurity signage to educate visitors is common in Langhorne Creek where Lian Jaensch, Executive Officer of Langhorne Creek Grape & Wine, has been working with local winery and vineyard owners for more than 15 years.

The association provided one large visitor-facing biosecurity sign for each cellar door when they were first released by Vinehealth Australia in 2017.

“Some cellar doors purchased additional signs, which was great. The association also supplied a wine tourism biosecurity sign for the Frank Potts Reserve camping ground and one for the visitor information bay in the centre of town,” Lian said.

“I’ve been talking about biosecurity with our growers and cellar doors for years. And I regularly share Vinehealth news, information and comms to my member database.”

Lian said the key to biosecurity education in Langhorne Creek was to make it visual and inject some fun.

“We’ve only got nine cellar doors so it’s a bit easier for our region. When Vinehealth Australia brought out the big metal wine tourism biosecurity signs, I said to our Board, wouldn’t it be great if we could help to get them across the region?” Lian said.

“We offered free signs to all the cellar doors, and only one didn’t take it up at the time. A few members ordered extra signs because they’ve got several property frontages. There was one vineyard on the main road that people always seemed to want to go into and take photos, so that vineyard owner put signs up there to help stop it happening.”

Lian said another change over the past 10 years in Langhorne Creek has been an increase in vineyard fencing.

“Historically, Langhorne Creek didn’t have a lot of vineyard fences where they were not needed for other purposes, like adjoining properties or animals. But in more recent years, we’ve seen fences going up along all main roads, partly to keep vineyards safe and partly to keep in animals that might be used for grazing,” Lian said.

Growers in ’smurf suits’ at a Langhorne Creek field day.’

“And at our Frank Potts Reserve, which is a casual campground, fencing has been put up to stop campers from wandering through vineyards to get to cellar doors.

“In a small community like ours, once vineyard owners start seeing one person do it, they all seem to do it.”

In the past, Lian has also produced Langhorne Creek Wine Region branded vineyard entry biosecurity signs for vineyard owners to use.

“I produced about 150 of them and made them available for minimal cost. We distributed them through the local ag supplier. That was 10 years ago, but I still get people asking me for them,” Lian said.

“I’ve also made vineyard owners wear biosecurity suits – which I call smurf suits – during workshops and field days. It’s hilarious because some of them can hardly fit into them, yet you can hardly find me in them. ‘One size fits all’ sometimes fits no one, but we made it work. I made them all put booties on too.

“I also make them stand in foot baths and time each other for 60 seconds to disinfest their shoes at field days sometimes, or just use the opportunity to stand and chat to someone they normally do not see.”

Lian said sign-in sheets, footbaths or boot covers, and biosecurity information in promotional notices and booking links were all used for grower activities, and sometimes the activity includes a biosecurity sign giveaway, like a door prize (or gate prize) for one lucky attendee.

“Footbaths seem to appear when needed for groups if they involve any vineyard presence. At most of our industry events, it’s all locals and they don’t pose much of a biosecurity risk, but for me, it’s making a point about how life would be if we did have a serious pest or disease outbreak here. It’s getting them to stop and think,” Lian said.

“The really hard thing – and it’s a very human thing – is that until we have an outbreak of something nasty like phylloxera here, there’s a level of apathy that’s hard to overcome.”

Langhorne Creek Grape & Wine has also funded growers to attend Vinehealth’s Phylloxera Immersion Tour to the Maroondah Phylloxera Infested Zone in the past.

“Some of the first phylloxera tours that we went on were 15 years ago now. I went on one when I first started at the association, which was a big education for me,” Lian said.

“A local, Bazz, also came along on that phylloxera tour, and he was a good candidate as he does a lot of contract earthworks in the region. I remember him saying, ‘Oh God, we don’t want that thing here.’ He had greater awareness of how a pest like phylloxera might impact his business if it arrived here, and all the extra cleaning, sanitisation and red tape that would involve.”

On Vinehealth’s 2019 Phylloxera Immersion Tour, Langhorne Creek vineyard owner Peter Bray was funded to attend by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA).

“Pete was another great candidate as he’s connected into the local community here too. He came back from the Yarra Valley and talked about phylloxera to other locals and so the word spreads. That helps to get people moving with things like fencing and signage,” Lian said.

Lian said the Langhorne Creek cellar door community was very aware of biosecurity and the need to keep visitors out of vineyards.

“I know most of our cellar door tours and experiences don’t involve going into a vineyard. If people want to do a specific behind-the-scenes tour, it’s prearranged,” Lian said.

“When we have VIPs here, we get them to put booties on if they’re going into a vineyard. That’s a photo opportunity for a politician – they love it!

“And when visitors want to take photos of vines, most wineries now have a spot where people can go to get a great shot, which isn’t in a vine row.”

Lian said most cellar doors in the region were well established with paths from carparks to the cellar door entrance, barriers between vines and parking areas, and biosecurity signs asking people not to walk into the vineyard.

“Tourists will generally follow a path if there’s one there, and they will respect instructions on signs. It’s about being set up correctly to control the flow of people around your winery,” she said.

“Industry education about biosecurity is easier as the language and terminology are already familiar. But signage and barriers – physical or landscaping – are best for consumer events where the level of knowledge is lower and the opportunity for education is smaller.”

Lian also encourages her vineyard and winery owners to use the tools and resources on the Vinehealth Australia website.

“There’s so much there – I constantly remind members to use the tools. For us, good biosecurity is doing the basic things well. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated.”

Footwear disinfestation at a Langhorne Creek field day.