Communication the key for Grape Growers and Landowners this burn off season

The Wattle Range Council and Coonawarra Vignerons hosted 30 Landowners and Vignerons at a Burn Off & Smoke Taint Breakfast Briefing on Thursday 12th March 2020 at Hollick Estates.

The event highlighted the good working relationship that Vignerons and broad acre cropping business have in the region.Pete Balnaves, President of Coonawarra Vignerons welcomed and thanked those attending for being so engaged, in particular for their diligence to date. Olivia James, Executive Officer of Coonawarra Vignerons said “The session was called to encourage the ongoing communications between Landowners and Grape Growers and the equal importance to understand each other’s priorities to achieve their respective activities.”

Hans Loder, Chair of Coonawarra Vignerons Viticulture & Oenology Committee outlined what smoke taint is and why it is a problem for grape growers. Hans said “Vineyards and grapevines are most vulnerable now during harvest with the highest impact on berries and it is important for Vignerons to be communicating their harvest activities with their neighbouring landowners.” Communication is the key during this period.

Wattle Range Council and Coonawarra Vignerons are taking measures to increase awareness on the impact smoke can have to grapes at harvest and sought to better understand the landowners needs. The Briefing attendees discussed the potential of bringing forward the burn off period under permit and potential of looking at whether Sundays can be incorporated.  This potential increase in the window of opportunity for burning could be mutually beneficial as it may allow more days that have the right wind conditions for burning over a longer period. The Coonawarra Vignerons will look into this further to see what assistance can be given.

From L to R: Kerry Wilkinson, Pete Balnaves, Tim Wilson & Hans Loder

Tim Wilson of Wattle Range Council was present to highlight that permits will be granted post Lucindale Field Day from 23 March to the opening of fire season on 15 April 2020. During this three week period fires are permitted under conditions to prevent impacts to other industries. It was noted that it is great if this best practice approach can be extended to burn offs occurring in fire season, respecting that Vintage activity can extend into May.

Kerry Wilkinson, The University of Adelaide, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Professor of Oenology was in attendance to provide an overview of her Smoke Taint Research with a PIRSA sponsored Stubble Burn Trial to be extended to Coonawarra this season to assist with acquiring further data to help in maintaining burn offs without impact to the wine industry. The Briefing enabled trial locations to be identified and contact details exchanged. Trial locations are being sought to capture as much data locally as possible. If you reside in the Wattle Range Council area and are planning to burn off, we are keen to connect you with Kerry for a trial site to be set up.

Please contact if you can offer one or both of the following:

  • a ‘clean’ burn for example of barley with discing; and
  • a ‘dirty’ burn of canola without discing.

All agreed in the session that ongoing communication and monitoring of conditions is critical. The Coonawarra Vignerons is advocating for its members to reach out to its neighbours to keep them informed of the status of their harvest activities. If you are a landowner and are struggling to connect with the neighbouring vineyard, the Coonawarra Vignerons can assist with locating and sharing contact details. Please contact Olivia direct via email or phone 0418 816 316.

The Wattle Range Council is reviewing a trial to further develop the sensor network technology available to assist industry in making decisions for spraying, burning off and other agricultural practices influenced by measurable quantifiable criteria. We look forward to monitoring the progress of this project.

South Australian agriculture, food and wine industries are a vital part of the State’s economy and we look forward to continuing to work together in our region.


Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated (CGWI), trading as Coonawarra Vignerons is an amalgamation of the former Coonawarra Vignerons Association and the Coonawarra Grapegrowers Association. The Coonawarra Vignerons is a not for profit members organisation that supports local grapegrowers and winemakers by facilitating the promotion, marketing, technical innovation, finances and administration associated with the Coonawarra wine region membership. Integral to

Coonawarra Vignerons is protecting the integrity, and enhancing the reputation, of Coonawarra as a fine wine region.

The Coonawarra Vignerons conducts six annual events:

  • 3 to 4 April 2020 Coonawarra After Dark
  • 14 to 17 May 2020 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival
  • 1 to 31 July 2020 Coonawarra Cellar Dwellers
  • August 2020 Coonawarra Cellar Door in the City Wine Tasting Roadshow
  • 1 to 31 October 2020 Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations
  • 14 January 2021 Coonawarra Vignerons Cup

For Further Information Contact:

Olivia James

Executive Officer, Coonawarra Vignerons


PH: 8737 2392

M: 0418 816 316               

For the latest news & events