TWE spends $1m on netting to protect Barossa vineyard from warming climate

April 23, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has invested $1 million into an enclosed nylon vineyard canopy to protect its 14 hectare Koonunga Hill vineyard in the Barossa Valley. The investment represents one component of the wine producer’s multi-faceted climatic adaptation response, which includes additional strategies such as long-range weather forecasting, smart irrigation, and water recycling. 

The canopy has been installed over TWE’s Koonunga Hill vineyard, which was planted in 2008. The Koonunga Hill site now contributes premium Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to some of Penfold’s most premium wines including Grange, Bin 707, St Henri, and RWT. 

 “The Koonunga Hill canopy is a significant investment in climate adaptation in one of Australia’s most significant growing regions, the Barossa Valley,” said Anthony Catanzariti, Director of Wine and Grape Sourcing at TWE.

“As a key sourcing region for some of our best-known luxury Shiraz and Cabernet wines, having the right viticultural practices to farm to the changing conditions will shore up the supply of high-quality grapes for years to come.”

While the experimental netting is still in its early phases, grapes harvested over recent weeks are showing potential, ripening earlier and with more colour vibrancy when compared to similar fruit sourced from outside the canopy. 

According to TWE’s Technical Viticulturalist Marcos Bonada, the nylon vineyard cover is especially important in areas that have undulating topography comparable to that of the Koonunga Hill site, where surrounding hills create an amphitheatre-like effect that both increases susceptibility to frosts induced by cold air drainage and increases the impact of hot northerly winds. 

“In a higher-risk water catchment area like the Barossa Valley, creating conditions where vines producing luxury grapes can thrive with less water is a significant step forward in our sustainability efforts,” he said.

“Investing in adaptations like canopies to improve vine and fruit quality in a changing climate will help protect the region’s international reputation for full-bodied red wines.”

Given the already warm grape growing climate of the Barossa, the use of technology to analyse real-time data on growing conditions is becoming increasingly important. TWE currently employs a diverse array of measuring equipment to ensure greater control over the consistency and quality of production, including equipment to measure surface temperature, rainfall, transpiration, transpiration, moisture at various soil depths, canopy stress, bunch weights and wind speed and direction.

TWE has also indicated that it will be raising the prices of its top-tier Penfolds labels from July this year due to current demand outstripping supply. Investments such as the Koonunga Hill canopy netting reflect its ongoing dedication to the Penfolds brand, which is currently being reintroduced to the Chinese market as part of the Penfolds’ reintroduction plan outlined in its February FY24 interim results

This plan includes:

  • “Re-establishing distribution for Penfolds entry-level Australian COO portfolio, including Penfold’s Max’s, Koonunga Hill and One by Penfolds
  • Re-allocating a portion of Penfolds Bin and Icon tiers from other global markets in order to progressively re-build distribution to China, while maintaining the strong momentum in those other markets where Penfolds has successfully grown in recent years;
  • Re-establishing distribution for the Treasury Premium Brands Australian sourced priority portfolio in China, including Rawson’s Retreat; and
  • Expanding sales and marketing resources, and brand investment, in China.”
Share the content