Future management of foundation grapevine assets in Australia



There are 16 grapevine germplasm collections in Australia – a mixture of government-funded, industry-funded and privately owned.   There are estimated to be over 900 different varieties and clones in these collections – some of which may exist only in Australia.

Germplasm collections have suffered a crisis in funding in the last 10 years brought about primarily by a lack of cutting sales since the downturn in the industry’s economic fortunes and government cut-backs in funding for germplasm resources.

Australia needs grapevine foundation assets to secure its long-term competitiveness and sustainability through the health, quality and integrity of its vineyards.  There are varied ideas in the industry about how to achieve this and until now, a way forward has not been decided.

Role of WGGA

In November 2013, Wine Grape Growers Australia facilitated a meeting of stakeholders to identify a process for deciding on the future for grapevine genetic resources in Australia.  The meeting agreed that a business plan should be developed and endorsed by industry for the long-term management of grapevine genetic resources in Australia.   A working group was formed (see below) to develop the business plan.

This project has been facilitated by WGGA and supported with funding from GWRDC (now AGWA) and WGGA.

Germplasm Management Working Group

The working group is made up of the following members:

  • David Nitschke (Riverland Vine Improvement)
  • Prue Henschke (AVIA and Adelaide Hills Vine Improvement, C.A. Henschke & Co)
  • Andy Gordon (VINA and KC Vines and Rootstocks)
  • Mike McCarthy (SARDI)
  • Jenny Treeby (ADFA)
  • Nigel Blieschke (PGIBSA and Barossa Vine Improvement)
  • Jim Campbell-Clause (WAVIA and AHA Viticulture)
  • Lawrie Stanford (Industry, WGGA)
  • Linda Bowes (secretariat)
  • Sandy Hathaway (secretariat)

Business Plan

The working group has spent six months developing the business plan, including reviewing previous reports, distilling ideas on exactly what industry needs and why, and consulting informally with a wide range of people to test ideas.

The proposed model is intended to protect existing assets and capitalise on their value, and provide flexibility to respond to new opportunities, bring in new technologies and create efficiencies over time.

Central to the proposed model is that the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) take on the role of strategic national industry oversight of grapevine foundation assets.

WGGA released the draft business plan for consultation in September 2014 with feedback and submissions from industry sought by October.  The final proposal, plus industry feedback, was then presented to the Joint Policy Forum on 29 October and is was recommended by both the WFA and WGGA Boards that it be progressed to AGWA for consideration.

You can view the revised business plan which will be presented at the next AGWA Board meeting in the new year.

You can view the supporting documentation below, including the Review of Grapevine Germplasm Collections undertaken by Scholefield Robinson in 2013.

Other resources
  1. Grapevine Foundation Assets Business Plan  (revised Oct 2014) + Summary of Industry Feedback  (Oct 2014)
  2. Review of grapevine germplasm collections in Australia  (PowerPoint presentation given at below meeting)  (Nov 2013)
  3. Key stakeholder meeting  (Minutes)  (Nov 2013)
  4. Implementation of the recommendations of the GWR1112 report below  (Summary by the AVIA)  (Oct 2013)
  5. Summary of a review of grapevine germplasm collections in Australia (GWR 112)  (GWRDC funded report by Scholefield Robinson)  (Jul 2013)
  6. “Australia’s grapevine germplasm collections under threat”  (Grapegrower & Winemaker article)  (Jun 2013)


Image courtesy of Riverland Vine Improvement