Government announces a package for wine industry

THE state government has announced a $2.5 million package to help wine growers and producers affected by the recent bushfires.

Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes said the package would support producers who had been directly affected by bushfires, or whose current vintage of wine grapes may be affected by smoke exposure.

The support package includes $1.2 million for potential smoke exposure testing for growers, which will provide a rebate to help growers get smoke exposure tests from specialist labs.

The rebate will be capped at $1200 per grower, and will be available state-wide.

There will be $1 million for grants to growers who receive test results which suggests their grapes might be smoke affected to help with technical decision-making advice and support, and $300,000 to research reliable and inexpensive predictive tests for potential quality impacts of smoke.

The support package is in addition to the assistance the government has been providing since January 23 for the collection and transport of grape samples to laboratories for testing of potential effects of smoke.

Ms Symes said the government was “actively working with the wine industry” to identify options and support the sector in managing the effects of smoke on grapes.

“Our wine industry is vibrant, diverse and a vital part of our economy – that’s why we’re ensuring the industry has access to the support and advice it needs to be best placed for this year’s vintage.”

Smoke can taint grapes, rendering them useless for wine making.

Last month, Glenmaggie Wines’ Tony Dawkins feared he may have to ditch his entire crop because of potential smoke taint.

The Gippsland Times attempted to speak with Mr Dawkins yesterday for an update on testing of his grapes, and for comment on the state government’s wine package, but he was unavailable for comment.