Sharpening the biosecurity focus

Vinehealth Australia is working with haste and focus to be strategic, proactive and innovative in the way we operate to maintain the defence of South Australia’s $1.78 billion wine industry against our rapidly evolving biosecurity landscape.

“Vinehealth remains resolute in delivering outstanding value to growers and more broadly industry, with a sharp eye on phylloxera and other key pest and disease threats to our vines,” says CEO Inca Pearce.

“Maintaining our phylloxera-free status and secure production is a priority and sets us apart from many other wine regions globally.”

Vinehealth Australia is a statutory authority operating under the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Act (1995), with legislative powers in South Australia. As part of its role, Vinehealth is a regulator, and as such, key staff and the board of Vinehealth are biosecurity officers in South Australia with powers to enforce the Plant Health Act (2009).

Vinehealth is a key enabler for the South Australian wine industry; we are a conduit to facilitate discussions, raise awareness, provide best practice advice and policy support. Vinehealth is paid a contribution by every vineyard owner in the state to protect vineyards from pests and diseases and our functions include:

Vinehealth has a clear mandate to undertake its functions with its powers set out in the Act. We recognise that pests and diseases don’t respect state borders, hence we are working alongside and collaborating with interstate government and industry counterparts to minimise exotic and significant endemic biosecurity risks to South Australian growers and the industry.

We also recognise that consistency of biosecurity messaging across the industry is vital and is something that Vinehealth is looking to facilitate and drive.

“Activity within our industry is enormously connected. Wineries purchase fruit from multiple growers, sending many staff to visit grower blocks throughout the season. Contractors work across multiple vineyards with their staff, machinery and equipment,” Inca says.

“And as consumers, we enjoy the varying cellar door experiences in our numerous winegrowing regions and we can visit vineyards in more than one state in a day.

“With this connectivity at the fore, Vinehealth advocates that biosecurity is a shared responsibility between government, industry and the broader community and that there is no room for complacency. Each party must get the right balance of activities to maximise the effectiveness of our consolidated biosecurity efforts.

“We recognise that this can be hard in a challenging economic environment, but it is imperative that grapegrowers and winemakers are strong advocates for best practice hygiene systems and demonstrate leadership in their commitment to protecting their own vineyards, and ultimately the wine industry as a whole.”