Background and Aims: Previous work has identified the potential for enhancing the profitability of both grapegrowing and winemaking through the implementation of selective harvesting. However, there has been a perception that such strategies may not be feasible when winery infrastructure is geared to large production volumes, such as is commonly the case in Australia's warm irrigated regions. This work sought to examine the merits of this perception.
Methods and Results: The tools of Precision Viticulture were used to identify zones of similar vineyard performance in two Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the Murray Valley region of Victoria such that sufficient quantities of fruit were available for commercial scale vinification into different product lines. Wines from these zones were also made in small lots. Sensory analysis demonstrated that wines derived from like zones were indeed similar, whilst those from contrasting zones were discernibly different. A partial gross margin analysis strongly suggested that selective harvesting should be highly profitable.
Conclusions: If market opportunity warrants it, selective harvesting of fruit into different product streams is a feasible and profitable strategy even when production is geared to large volumes.
Significance of the Study: The work demonstrates that selective harvesting can be profitably applied in situations where production is geared to large fermentation volumes. It therefore provides a counter to the view that Precision Viticulture offers opportunities only to small (boutique) producers or to large, well-resourced companies with a flexible winery infrastructure.