UP to 300 Barossa grape growers will soon have access to an additional three gigalitres of irrigated water, creating close to $40 million worth of new export income opportunity, following a new State Government commitment.
The government, today, announced it would invest $11 million into helping upgrade sections of two major pipelines and a pump station to enable more raw water to be moved from the Murray River and Warren Reservoir to the Barossa Infrastructure Limited (BIL) water transportation scheme.
The improvements will increase the scheme’s total capacity to 11 gigalitres per year.
The State Government investment is combined with BIL’s commitment of $7.4 million towards the capital costs of the upgrade, and $13 million towards improving its own infrastructure.
BIL general manager Paul Shanks said the water will be positive for the growing industry, with 300 of their customers, who are also shareholders in the scheme, expected to benefit.
“We think that there is probably close to $40 million worth of new export income from these new vines once they become productive,” he said.
“About 15 per cent are new customers and have already got vineyards in the Barossa that weren’t watered before, or are planning to start a new vineyard, so it’s giving them the opportunity.”
Barossa growers, and father and son team, Andy and John Kalleske, who have worked the vineyards, collectively, for 90 years, said the upgrades will allow them to grow in areas that water typically wouldn’t reach.
“It means we can expand a little bit more and we can plant some vineyards in some really good-quality areas that we know, historically, have produced A-grade fruit,” Andrew said.
“(It will create) a little bit more volume, and allow us to water when we need to, so when it’s hot and there is heatwaves (it is) drought-proofing.”
“Without the BIL scheme, we wouldn’t see the vines out in some of the marginal country,” John added.
“Some of the soil produces fruit in really high qualities, but, normally, you couldn’t have grown the fruit there.”
Both John and Andrew said the quality of grapes will also be maintained, which is highly important to staying competitive in the international market.
“Ensuring the grapes are quality is important when looking at China, who are looking for that quality product; they will only buy the best,” Andrew said.
Increasing the BIL scheme’s capacity is expected to create 17 jobs over the 12-month construction phase, 84 permanent vineyard jobs and 90 roles in wine production.
State Water Minister Ian Hunter said with the wine and tourism industries both being so strong in South Australia, “economic development projects like this are vital”.
The increased capacity should be available by the end of 2018.