Drought-tolerant wine varieties arrive from Cyprus

Drought-tolerant wine varieties arrive in SA from Cyprus

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TOP DROP: University of Adelaide PhD student Alexander Copper in Cyprus with the drought-tolerant white variety Xynisteri.

TOP DROP: University of Adelaide PhD student Alexander Copper in Cyprus with the drought-tolerant white variety Xynisteri.

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SA now has two new wine varieties to give grapegrowers more options.

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TWO new wine varieties have arrived in SA, with hope they would provide new options for grapegrowers to cope with warm and dry seasons.

The drought-tolerant white variety Xynisteri and red variety Maratheftiko have just been released from Australian quarantine, after being imported from Cyprus, and are being propagated by wine researchers at the University of Adelaide.

They will then be used in trials at the Waite campus, replicating those undertaken in commercial Cypriot vineyards.

University of Adelaide PhD student, Alexander Copper, said these new varieties could provide options for local growers.

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"We are seeing increasing temperatures and increasing frequency of heat waves in southern Australia and this is affecting vine harvest and putting more and more pressure on water resources," he said.

"These varieties are very drought tolerant in Cyprus, often grown without any irrigation, and it is hoped they will be able to grow in Australian conditions with minimal to no irrigation."

Mr Copper is funded by University of Adelaide and Wine Australia scholarships, and supervised by Associate Professors Cassandra Collins and Susan Bastian, and Trent Johnson, in the University's School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

"Australia's popular grape varieties, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris are all French varieties that traditionally have been grown in parts of France with high rainfall and without irrigation," he said,

"In Australia these varieties are typically irrigated due to our difference in rainfall, likewise our Rieslings, which originally came from Germany.

Considering the similar climates of Australia and Cyprus, these Cypriot grape varieties have potential as environmentally sustainable wines which will require less resources and help in the future adaptation of the wine industry to a changing climate. - Associate Professor Cassandra Collins, University of Adelaide

"We do have some more drought tolerant varieties from Spain, Italy and Portugal, but I believe the Cypriot varieties will be more drought tolerant than these."

Mr Copper said the varieties had been cultivated for thousands of years in Cyprus, tolerating hot, dry summers and surviving on winter rainfall alone, similar to the SA climate.

Preliminary research has shown that Australian consumers like wines made from these varieties.

"The first part of Alexander's project was to assess consumer response to these wines, which has been positive," Associate Prof Collins said.

"Considering the similar climates of Australia and Cyprus, these Cypriot grape varieties have potential as environmentally sustainable wines which will require less resources and help in the future adaptation of the wine industry to a changing climate."

Mr Copper has established trials under irrigated and drought conditions in Cyprus and the material from quarantine will be used to repeat these experiments in Australia to further determine their drought tolerance.

"We hope to have data ready for publication from the Cyprus trials early in 2020, and the Australian trials at the Waite campus in Autumn 2021," he said.

"After that we hope to run field trials in different regions of SA."

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