Commercial vineyards at CSU to return to farmland

Thursday 30 Apr 2015

Charles Sturt University (CSU) will return its commercial vineyards in Orange and Wagga Wagga to farmland as it discontinues commercial wine production.

CSU announced in March its plans to discontinue large-scale production and expand its focus on the premium boutique wine market through the Experimental Winery at the National Wine and Grape Industry Research Centre (NWGIC).

CSU Executive Director of Finance Mr Paul Dowler said, "Charles Sturt University's proud tradition of wine-making will continue with new boutique wines to be made at the Experimental Winery.

"The move to focus on premium wines will ensure our teaching, research and extension activities are focused on a key growth segment in the Australian wine market.

"The decision to scale back commercial production also recognises increased competition in the higher education sector, coupled with ongoing uncertainty around reforms."

CSU wine science students are taught and conduct research at the Experimental Winery and this will continue under the new structure.

Mr Dowler said the University sought expressions of interest (EOI) to lease the University's commercial vineyards, but no partners had been found.

The removal of the vines and associated trellis infrastructure is expected to take place in Wagga Wagga on Thursday 7 May.

The six hectare commercial vineyard in Wagga Wagga comprises of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Muscat plantings.

The University also maintains an experimental vineyard in Wagga Wagga which includes different varieties of grapevines and will continue to be maintained and used for both research and teaching. This will complement existing infrastructure at CSU, such as the Experimental Winery and glasshouses, for research and teaching, not only in viticulture and wine sciences but plant sciences. In addition to retaining the experimental vineyard for teaching and research, seven rows of vines in the commercial vineyard, or approximately .4 of a hectare, will be managed as part of the experimental vineyard and kept for the research project, "Practical Management of Grapevine Trunk Diseases".

The commercial vineyard in Orange is 12.5 hectares and includes plantings of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Merlot, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc. A date for the removal of vines and associated infrastructure in Orange is yet to be determined.

CSU plans to return the former vineyard land to general farm use.

"We will ensure that the land is restored and sown down to pasture to ensure it blends into the landscape and supports the farming activities that will continue," Mr Dowler said.

CSU will soon sell vineyard equipment which is no longer required such as sprayers, harvester and tractors.

The University has been able to secure a lease of the commercial winery at Wagga Wagga to a local wine producer and it is hoped that an arrangement can be negotiated that will allow the facility to be fully utilised into the longer term.


Media contact: Fiona Halloran and Emily Malone , (02) 6933 2207

Media Note:

Mr Paul Dowler is the Executive Director of the University's Division of Finance. He is based at CSU in Orange. For interviews, contact CSU Media

The project, "Practical Management of Grapevine Trunk Diseases" is funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) and is being conducted by the NWGIC at CSU in collaboration with researchers at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).  This project also has other research trial sites in commercial vineyards in NSW and SA.