Field Research in Victoria, Australia
My third exploratory research trip in 2016 took me to Australia. First I visited the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula, which are both small wine regions located east of the city of Melbourne in Victoria. They benefit from the proximity to the city, attracting residents and tourists for excursions to “wine country”. Both regions grow cool climate grapes, like Pinot noir and aromatic whites. The Mornington Peninsula is surrounded by the sea, and has maritime weather influences. The Yarra Valley is inland, and home to rolling hills and eucalyptus forests. They have experienced severe drought in recent years, concern around overproduction of wine grapes (more than the market can manage), and serious bushfires.
After completing interviews with local knowledge holders in wine, water management, environmental conservation and climate change in Victoria, I headed to the island of Tasmania to do the same. Tasmania is cooler climate wine region. The youngish industry there is growing and it has a good reputation for quality. There is a lot of interest from mainland Australian companies to acquire vineyard properties and wineries, known as “the race to Tassie”. Water resources and extreme weather events are potential issues in the future. The island is still considered a viable, fine wine growing region with lots of potential to remain so in the face of climate change.
Following my exploratory research, I determined I would focus on Tasmania as one of my case studies for my dissertation (along with the Willamette Valley in Oregon), and had the chance to return three times. You can learn more about my extended field work in 2018 in my research blog from the trip here.