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Australia drags its feet over vine louse

Published:  23 July, 2008

Despite the discovery of the vine louse phylloxera in the Yarra Valley, Australian winemakers have not been persuaded to start planting on resistant rootstocks. The pest was discovered in a section of eight-year-old Merlot vines in the Coldstream area in December. A 5km quarantine zone has now been drawn around the vineyard.

Despite many vineyards not being planted on rootstocks in the Yarra, Phil Sexton of Giant Steps winery said: The zone has caused some management issues because we can't move fruit out of the zone to the winery, but generally it's not too big a concern.'

In phylloxera-free South Australia, Neil Pike of Pikes said: Perhaps it's just a matter of time until we see phylloxera with the movement of machines and so on.

I'd be surprised if even 2% of vines were planted on rootstocks in the state because we don't feel threatened; it's too expensive and might affect the quality of fruit.'

Over the Tasman sea, Tamar Ridge's general manager Will Adkins said: We're hoping the tyranny of distance will protect us.'