The ongoing threat of climate change has incited a number of shifts and tweaks in our lifestyle choices – from an upheaving rejection of plastic straws to a simple switching of lightbulbs – the smallest changes can go a long way.

As creatures of habit, some of our rituals are hard to tamper with, but Queensland’s viticulturists are crushing the usual routine to adapt to the times. In an experiment taking place at the heart of Queensland’s wine country, the industry is turning away from well-known French varieties to other European drops with a holistic intent to adapt to an everchanging environment.

Based on the Granite Belt, the Queensland College of Wine Tourism (QCWT) is comparing 70 grape varieties to determine the best suited to new and future conditions around climate change. Viticulturist Mike Hayes is President of the Queensland Wine Industry Association and a key USQ researcher for the ‘Vineyard for the Future’ at QCWT. “The severity of conditions has made us pause to consider how to shape our industry moving forward,” Mr Hayes said. “We’re looking at factors such as lifting the fruiting wire up from the heat of the soil, changing the direction the vines are facing, and investigating drought tolerant rootstocks.”

‘Vineyard for the Future’ has already reaped rewards with big wins at the Queensland International Emerging Variety Wine Challenge in Brisbane earlier this year. QWCT’s Banca Ridge Wines 2019 Fiano was awarded the Champion White Wine title, as well as Best Italian Style White.

QCWT opened its doors 10 years ago in Stanthorpe and has since provided secondary and tertiary training to students in viticulture, oenology, tourism, hospitality and business. With QCWT as pioneer in the emerging variety movement, it is unsurprising that the Vineyard of the Future project was attracting international attention. “Regional Queenslanders are innovative and adaptive,” said Mr Hayes. “People are looking to the Granite Belt and how we are not just surviving but thriving.”

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