Sea & Vines is around the corner and like magpies flocking towards something shiny, we’re sure punters will be heading to the vines for that specific photo. You know the one we’re talking about, usually whitewashed, supposedly candid, depicting the individual weaving romantically through the vines. We’re all guilty of it. What you may not have realised, is that the repercussions can be far more severe than simply being unoriginal.
Did you know that South Australia is one of the only wine regions left on earth which hasn’t been impacted by Phylloxera, a microscopic bug that DESTROYS vines.
No exaggeration here. If Phylloxera finds its way to South Australia, it can decimate our vineyards like it did to Europe, the States and other parts of Australia in the late 19th century.
Unlike your primary school nits epidemic, there’s no excruciating metal comb to drag through the vines. There’s no pesticide or cure, so the damage would be colossal. The aphid-like bug attacks the any vine on its own root system, so around 75% of the crops in SA would be affected, essentially wiping out the majority of the vineyards we’ve got. Should Phylloxera arrive in SA, the wine industry, which contributes $2.15 billion to the state’s economy each year, would be broadly crippled.
Oh, and… there’ll be a SEVERE lack of wine for us to drink. Disaster!
So how are these little buggers getting around? Well we hate to blame tourism since it’s such an asset for our state, but Phylloxera loves to travel on shoes and clothing, so when locals and visitors walk through vines which are contaminated and then a few weeks later go to a non-contaminated vineyard, it takes one wayward microscopic bug to jump off and breed all over the place.
These little guys are hardy, they can live up to 21 days without food or water, and they’re asexual so there’s no need for a phylloxera bf/gf for reproduction, they pop out about 200 babies in one go.
The organisation who we have to thank for enlightening us about Phylloxera’s existence is Vinehealth. Born a short while ago in 1899, under the grand title of The Phylloxera and Grape Industry Board of SA, Vinehealth has spent the last 120 years keeping South Australia phylloxera free and continues to evolve with the threats that come with fast-paced tourism.
So this weekend during Sea & Vines Festival, and frankly, any time you’re winery hopping, whether or not you believe there’s a little bug backpacking with you, don’t walk through the vines.
So all we have to end on is… CHEERS.
More info on Phylloxera and Vinehealth here.