Staff have planted disease-resistant grapevines in a major trial at the NSW Orange Agricultural Institute vineyard.
The 20 white and 20 red varieties don’t have fancy names, they are just numbers.
But agricultural experts said that if just one or two them succeeded in creating a quality wine it would be a “game-changer” for the Orange wine industry.
However, it is going to take several years to find out.
Department of Primary Industries Leader Horticulture Myles Parker said Orange was one of four trial sites, with Wagga Wagga, South Australia and Victoria, where the disease-resistant vines had been planted in partnership with the CSIRO.
“These varieties are completely new,” he said.
“They are not a shiraz or a chardonnay, they are just numbers at the moment.”
Mr Parker said the powdery mildew and downy mildew diseases ruined crops annually and the new varieties had been developed to fight disease.
“We won’t be spraying them at all for those diseases,” he said.
“The two diseases are a major problem to grape growers.”
He said the new varieties would take up to three years to grow before the grapes were picked to make wine that would be assessed and tasted by wine judges and panels.
“Even if one or two out of the selection process succeed it will be a game-changer for the industry,” he said.
“You could easily say it would save growers millions upon millions of dollars if they work.”
He said powdery mildew was a major problem to Australia wines last year during the hot and dry summer.
“In Orange, because it is cooler, it sometimes can be wetter so downy mildew can be a problem,” he said.
The first indication of whether the grapevines were working will be found in Wagga Wagga where the first disease-resistant vines were planted a few years ago.
“In Wagga we did a first harvest of the white variety and that has been turned into wine,” he said.
“Some of them have some promising traits.”
The wines will be produced at Charles Sturt University’s National Wine and Grape Industry Centre in Wagga Wagga.