The State Of Wine Grape Production In Australia

Australia is currently the fifth largest exporter of wine in the world, with a total wine export value of around $2.6 billion. Around 811 million liters of wine are exported each year, with red wine capturing the majority share with 493 million liters. And all this is possible, largely in thanks to the climate of the continent that is conducive to growing a large variety of grapes. Wine Grape Production In AustraliaAustralia has more than 135,000 hectares under grape production.

Total wine-grape crush is estimated at 1.98 million tonnes. South Australia alone contributes 51% of wine-grape crush at 984,000 tonnes while Murray Darling-Swan Hill comes second at 410,000 tonnes. New South Wales trails at a close third with an output of 398,000 tonnes. Out of a total wine production of 1.37 billion liters, red wine accounts for 58% while white wine makes up the rest 42%. Australia is the sixth largest wine producer in the world, and wine business contributes almost $40 billion every year to the country’s economy. The huge wine industry also means that the country meets most of its wine consumption from locally produced wines, which comes to 84%. Imported wines only make up 10% of the domestic wine market.

Varieties – Wine Grape TypesWinemakers in Australia use about 130 different varieties of grapes. And among all the wine grape types grown in the country, Shiraz commands the first position, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. According to estimates, close to 40,000 hectares or nearly one-third of all vineyard area in the country grow a single variety of grape – Shiraz. Introduced to Australia in 1832 by a Scottish immigrant by the name of James Busby, Shiraz quickly grew in popularity in the country. Incidentally, he is also considered as the father of the Australian wine industry.

The country is the second largest producer of Shiraz grapes in the world, just behind France. Some of the popular Shiraz wines made in Australia include Penfolds Grange and Henschke. Cabernet Sauvignon is a hugely popular wine grape variety across the world. And it is estimated that about 25,000 hectares of land in Australia are dedicated to growing this grape. It is also blended with Shiraz to create unique wines.

There are big regional differences when it comes to the production of Cabernet Sauvignon in the country. While the grapes from the Yarra Valley are known to produce grapes that maintain a balance between acidity and fruitiness, the Clare Valley region is known to produce grapes that have a heightened fruity flavour. Chardonnay claims the third spot as the third most widely planted wine grape variety with about 21,500 hectares of land growing the grape.

Unlike the dark-skinned Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon which are used to produce red wine, Chardonnay is a grape with green skin and is used in the production of white wine. Other popular varieties of wine grapes grown in the country include Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, both of which accounted for about 11% of the total vineyard area in Australia. Vineyard ManagementIt is estimated that there are around 2468 wineries and 6251 wine grape growers in Australia.

In total, they employ more than 172,000 people. The industry has been seeking to improve its vineyard management practices by adopting latest and most modern techniques of grape production and more efficient use of its resources. One of the biggest focus areas has been on the development of environmentally sustainable production techniques that would cut down labor while maintaining the quality of the grape.

However, the main challenge to developing a uniform best practice’ for grape growing across Australia has been the fact that vineyards are located in different regions with varied climatic conditions. The seasonal changes bring in a big factor of unpredictability as to the quality and yield of the grape. For example, if the temperature at the grape bud initiation is warm, then it would mean a bigger yield the next year. However, if the weather was cold at the time of flowering, then it will lead to a lower yield. As a consequence, the wine industry in Australia is investing heavily in coming up with new methods and techniques that will help it to estimate the yields with greater accuracy while also allowing it to assess the quality of grapes more comprehensively.

A beautiful garden doesn’t have to cost the earth

Grounds With Appeal

Frances Saunders

A beautiful garden doesn’t have to cost the earth, writes Frances Saunders.

AN EMPHASIS on low-maintenance outdoor areas with expensive hard landscape such as paving and decking has dramatically changed garden design in recent years.

Brought up on a diet of glamorous, instant-makeover television shows and landscape magazines – which often have huge budgets to showcase the most aspirational ideas – many people now consider good garden design a luxury. They expect to pay from $8000 to $35,000 for a decent transformation.

Throw in the outdoor entertainment area, a spa or a pool, and the costs become astronomical.

But that’s not a realistic benchmark for the typical Australian family, says Michael Gainger, chief executive officer of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association of Victoria. Concerned that there are not enough budget-conscious and easily achievable outdoor design ideas for the average homeowner, Mr Gainger campaigned for an avenue of achievable gardens at this year’s flower and garden show, which is being held this week. The association approached TAFE colleges for students to submit innovative designs for gardens, each on a $2000 capped budget, 14 of which will be displayed at the avenue.

“We want to make it easy for people to implement low-cost garden ideas,” he says, “so each landscape has its own recipe card for people to follow.”

The students kept to key strategies to hold costs down, says Mike Callaway, a teacher at Swinburne TAFE. These are ground rules for any low-budget garden.

The single most expensive component in a design is the cost of hard landscape, so “limiting hard landscape work and materials is the first (rule)”, Mr Callaway says. Paving, concreting and decks are expensive when compared to mulch or gravel.

Expensive hard materials can still be used, but more judiciously. Paving blocks used as stepping stones can be decorative and functional when used as a walkway on gravel paths or lawn. But because they are a feature, and only a few may be required, the cost is relatively low when compared with the benefit.

“Good use of plant material is another strategy,” Mr Callaway says. “Appropriate plant selection is essential to ensure that the plants survive and thrive in that situation.”

But it’s more than just finding the right plants for the right spot. A planting plan – even if it’s a sketch – will give an idea of what the garden will look like when it’s fairly established.

The plan or sketch can also control the temptation to overplant, as most gardens tend to look bare in the initial planting. Mr Callaway suggests drawing the plants on the plan with the spread they will have when they have grown to maturity. Then use it as a guide and stick to the number of plants sketched.

The initial size of the plants will also affect a garden’s cost. At the top end, advanced plants can be many hundreds of dollars; however, a plant in a tube costs about $2.

Research repeatedly shows that a plant in a tube establishes and grows quicker than a larger plant. This is because the larger plant takes more time to recover and establish in its environment.

Labour costs are a large component of a garden budget, so keep the design simple so you can do it yourself.

Frances Saunders is a horticulturist and landscape designer.

The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is on at the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens from Wednesday until Sunday.

$2000 makeover

ON A budget of $2000, you can transform your garden in a few weekends. Our design plan is based on a rear courtyard garden seven metres square.

Path of Tuscan toppings: about 500mm wide, and slightly meandering through the space with a widened area for water feature or sculpture. One cubic metre is usually about $74, hire of compactor $50, total $124.

Mulch is light and easy to barrow and shovel around, it improves the soil, protects the soil surface, and provides nutrients to plants. A good-quality mulch (such as chipped organic and timber waste) is $39.50 per cubic metre. Apply at a depth of about 75mm. To work out how much you need, measure the length and width of the space to be covered in metres and multiply by .075. This will give you the cubic metres you need to order. Example: Mulch required for an area seven metres square is 3.67 cubic metres. Therefore order four cubic metres at $158, plus $20 delivery, total $178.

Contrasting charcoal paving stones set into the Tuscan toppings walkway. Large and dramatic 500 x 500mm pavers by Cast in Stone cost $14.85 each.Ten pavers at $14.85, total $148.50.

Two advanced specimens for about $200: a standard weeping grevillea, a small tree, or maybe a standard cumquat (above), total $420 (including delivery).

A piece of sculpture or a water feature up to $600 – put this in an eye-catching position, with garden seating, up to $200. OR a simple birdbath for $100 and an outdoor setting for $700.

That leaves about $330 to spend on plants. Plants in tubes from your local indigenous nursery cost about $2 for such gems as ornamental native grasses, dainty tetrathecas and small shrubs. That means there will be plenty of money for a couple of grafted eromophilas at $25 each and a few other favourite plants in larger sizes.

NOTE: To save on labour costs, the TAFEs offer short courses in paving and bricklaying for about $200, if you are keen to give it a go. Without labour costs, a small area of paving becomes more achievable: second-hand bricks cost about 67 cents each and seconds pavers about 55 cents each.

— FRANCES SAUNDERS

Prices courtesy of Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery

EASTER IS OVER AND autumn is here!

Musings

EASTER IS OVER AND autumn is here. We have had good rain. We gardeners need it.

I am tired and dispirited. I am tired of carrying buckets of grey water from the house to the garden, just trying to keep things going until it rains. I am tired of getting up in the dark for the permitted 6-8am hand-held hose watering. Tuesday I do the front garden, Saturday the back, and as it is not light enough to water at 6am, the precious two-hour timeslots are drastically reduced.

Several consecutive days of 39-degree heat caused my little lemon tree to curl its leaves, another azalea died and I have had to dispose of the bodies of a baby ringtail possum, three blackbirds and a silver-eye. (I kept the birdbath full. Why did they die?)

My back lawn has become a bleak wasteland, as hard as concrete. Some timber on a pergola was being replaced, and as the builder tried with the back of an axe to drive in a thick supporting peg the ground was so unrelenting that the peg split.

Several times showers were forecast, and I hopefully listened to the radio as places such as Warrnambool, Horsham and Geelong reported falls, sometimes up to 10 mls. I watched the western sky darken, and if a few big drops fell I would cross my fingers. Then the sun would come out again. The hydrangeas still drooped.

I think of so many other gardeners who have been beavering away, or have given up. There must be a whole army of us out there who, after so many months of drought, have lost the ability to stay optimistic and maintain the enthusiasm for upkeep on our own much-loved patch.

Slowly we are learning to change the way we garden. We mulch more, remembering to get water through the mulch deep into the underlying soil. We keep grass away from the root areas of our large trees. We are favouring Australian natives. I have replaced a frail old camellia with a ‘Robyn Gordon’ grevillea, which is flourishing. Happily, the little thornbills have already found it.

I am planting banksias and grevilleas where the ill-fated azaleas have left gaps. Even my patio now has a delightful native in a pot, the lovely little Banksia spinulosa (‘Birthday Candles’), and it has remained quite cheerful without the need for shade throughout the hottest and driest of days.

I do not plan to do a grand garden make-over favouring Australian natives but some changes are evolving. The mix of my old traditional shrubs and trees with my new Australian plants may be inappropriate in the eyes of a purist but does not offend my senses. It is like introducing a few pieces of antique furniture into a modern setting. If it’s done creatively, it seems to work. Anyway, if that’s what it takes to cheer me up and instil some enthusiasm into my flagging gardener’s spirits, then I say bring it on. At least the rain has come. Hallelujah.

LYN McGRATH

LOVE Gardening! But it is hard to maintain it. Why?

We often love to do gardening but It is not a simple job to maintain all plants with proper cultivation and need to look after for insects and bugs, they are quite common. And our daily visitor’s butterflies and birds will visit the gardens and enjoy their food. But the unknown thing about gardening is Grass with seeds, which are also a grass plant in the gardens. Where they take the fertile of the land and utilise for its cultivation.

We know that birds need food, this particular plant seeds attract them and for other small creatures. These trees even give shelter for other creatures such as finches as well skinks.

If we have more grass plants they are a chance of attracting birds, butterflies, and many more can be seen in your backyard. In Australia, you will more often see the wallaby grass, weeping grass, tussock grass, and Kangaroo grass, where they provide food for parrots insect, larva, wallaby finches as well as skinks, wombats and so on.

Reptile – Stimson’s Python

Scientific Name: Antaresia stimsoni

Pronunciation: ann-tahr-EE-zee-ah   STIM-son-ee

Required License: Category 3

General Information

 Stimson’s pythons are one of the most widespread pythons throughout Australia. They can be found from the south west of W.A, through central and northern W.A into the Northern Territory, across to south west Queensland, and even northern South Australia.

They generally inhabit rocky outcrops and escarpments in woodland areas, feeding primarily on rodents. They will also consume bats, frogs and small lizards.

As one of the smallest pythons in the world, rarely growing larger than 1m long, they are mostly terrestrial often hiding under and between rocks during the day, and coming out at night to find prey.

Suitability

 

Stimson’s pythons (or “stimmies” as they are more affectionately known), make the perfect snake for a beginner entering into the exciting world of reptile keeping. They are typically a very placid and calm species, well suited to handling and interaction. Their reasonably small size and great temperament, has made them a very popular choice.

Requirements

 Enclosure:

Will be dependent on the size/age of the snake. You can comfortably keep a pair of adult stimmies in an enclosure of roughly 600mmL x 400mmW x 300mmH. You can obviously go bigger that this, but any smaller is not recommended. Hatchlings can be kept in a smaller enclosure however will be fine in an adult enclosure as long as there is suitable hiding places for their size.

Substrates:

There are many different substrates available, but I find the Reptile Landscape is a brilliant all-round substrate, especially being designed for Australian reptiles. You can also use various aspen beddings, sand, and other bark products.

Heating:

Being ectothermic, snakes require heat to gain energy, therefore a quality heating source is essential. These come in the forms of globes, heat cords or heat mats. The most commonly used source is a globe. The size of the enclosure will determine the wattage required. Ideally, you need a basking spot temperature of around 30-33 degrees Celsius, not exceeding 36 degrees.

Lighting:

UV lighting is not a necessity for snakes as it doesn’t necessarily provide any health benefits. However, it definitely doesn’t hurt, and in some cases can aid in bringing out a snakes colours. It also acts as a display light in the enclosure.

Feeding:

The most readily available, and most ideal food for Stimson’s pythons, are mice. Most good pet shops now sell these. Size is again dependant on the age of your animal, but check with the seller as to what they are currently feeding on beforehand. All mice need to be defrosted before feeding, and under NO circumstances, are to be fed to the snake as live food. This is against your license regulations. Some snakes will take the food straight off tongs, some will take it at their own leisure if you leave it on the floor, and some require a bit of enticing by wiggling the mouse in front of it before striking.

Décor:

Stimmies tend to hide away when not out hunting, so a suitable hiding area for them to retreat and feel safe is very important. Your choice of hide, is obviously dependant on the size of your snake. We have many different options available on the store. A good water dish is also a definite must have.

This covers your necessary requirements. The rest are all optional, and really depend on your personality and your budget. We have a huge variety of décor items available, ranging from rocks, to plants, to basking platforms. Check out what we have, and design your new pets home to your own personal taste!