Plea to landowners to delay annual burn-offs

LANDOWNERS have been asked to delay this years’ burnoff period to help protect the state’s valuable wine industry.

Tasmanians are being urged to speak to their vineyard neighbours ahead of any planned burn offs this year. The cooler seasonal conditions have delayed the ripening of this year’s vintage with harvests planned for two weeks later than normal.

This has come close to the traditional burn off period which sees the risk of smoke-tainted grapes. Wines that are made from grapes that have been exposed to smoke are at risk of being unpalatable and unsalable.

Primary Industries and Water Minister Jo Palmer says to protect the wine industry it is important for landowners to communicate with surrounding vineyards to eliminate risks.

“If we can just see that good neighbourly behaviour, where we are just letting them know this is what’s happening around you, that can make all the difference to them in a year.”

The wine industry contributes to the Tasmanian economy with more than $200 million worth of investment each year.

The owner of Marion’s Vineyard in the Tamar Valley and member of Wine Tasmania’s Technical Committee, Cynthea Semmens, is asking locals to use social media to find out when vineyards are still picking, and to hold off until the nets are off before they start burning.

“What is so beautiful about Tasmania is a slow ripening period giving great, intense flavour and the last thing we want is to have those beautiful varietal characters contaminated by smoke.”

Ms Semmens says that after Easter is a great time to get in touch with vineyards to make sure that all of their grapes are picked.

Ms Palmer says that through the Agricultural Innovation Fund, Wine Tasmania was given more than $217 000 last year to investigate the production of sparkling wine from smoke-affected grapes.

“Last year we also announced $100,000 in funding to support emergency smoke testing of wine grapes by producers to aid decision making.” This funding provides rebates of up to $1000 to cover the costs of rapid testing for smoke taint of wine grapes.

“The State Government will continue to work with winemakers and stakeholders to keep growing this Tasmanian success story.”

Landowners can learn more about how they can reduce the potential impacts of smoke taint by going to Wine Tasmania’s website and downloading the TasVine resource.