The viticulture and winemaking capacity of the Waite is set to grow with an expansion of the University of Adelaide’s Coombe vineyard now underway.
An additional 0.75 hectares under grapevine cultivation will increase fruit availability for teaching and research, and increase stocks of later ripening varieties. Incorporation of new vineyard technologies means the latest in vineyard management strategies can be demonstrated and compared with existing 25 year old infrastructure that is reflective of past practices.
The first vineyards were planted at the Waite campus in 1992 and the years since has seen many changes in land use on the Waite campus. Open spaces, orchards and research farming areas have made way for new research infrastructure and modern laboratory buildings that today house more than 1500 staff and students across the campus.
More recently, environmental and climate pressures have resulted in changes to grapevine physiology – growth seasons are shorter and fruit is being harvested earlier than was traditionally the case.
Today, the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine manages 2.25 hectares of grape vines split between two vineyards on the Waite Campus – the Alverstoke Vineyard behind the Plant Genomics Building, and the Coombe Vineyard extending from below the Waite building towards Fullarton Road.
Fourteen different cultivars of wine grapes are currently grown, providing the School’s wine and viticulture students with vines and fruit for viticultural and winemaking studies and some research.
The vineyard provides examples of multiple trellis systems, different rootstocks and germplasm collections so students get thorough training in viticulture systems and management.
Courses include, vine physiology and pruning and canopy manipulation, site selection, propagation, soil management, plant nutrition, plant pathology and Integrated Pest Management. Concepts in precision technologies, chemical handling and agricultural machinery amongst many others are also taught.
The Coombe vineyard expansion commenced after the closure of the adjacent SARDI field trial plots and will increase the overall area of the Coombe vineyard to 2.5 hectares.
Three new blocks of three cultivars of red winegrapes will be planted, incorporating new trellis and viticulture management technologies. A new mains fed irrigation system and cutting edge telemetry and remote controlled irrigation scheduling will be installed. Soil amelioration programs have been designed to improve soil structure.
Cultivars have been selected to provide increased supply to the campus winery for winemaking programs and later ripening time frames to ensure availability for students starting studies in semester 1. Two clones of Shiraz will be planted to demonstrate the effect clonal difference can have on vine physiology.
Project partners who have made the vineyard expansion possible include:
- Eco-Trellis Horticultural Solutions – Steel trellis infrastructure supplier
- Ocvitti Australia – Steel trellis “Ocloc” infrastructure supplier
- Yalumba Nursery, Tanunda, Barossa Valle – Supply of vine material
- Pridham Viticulture – Project design and management
- Irrigation SOS P/L – Irrigation infrastructure and technologies
- Programmed Property Services – Initial site preparation