The Flying Vine Doctor
Dr Richard Smart founded Smart Viticultural Services in 1990. The business was renamed Smart Viticulture in 1997. The company now operates from Cornwall, United Kingdom, previously from Tasmania and Port Macquarie, New South Wales.
Smart Viticulture is a viticultural consulting business which relies on Richard’s acknowledged expertise. Smart Viticulture has consulted to over 300 clients in around 40 countries of the world, ranging in size from the largest vineyards and wineries to the smallest. Richard’s aim is to always provide advice on the world’s best viticultural practices. While his outlook is quintessentially New World , Richard is very well aware of the richness and heritage of Old World viticulture, and can appreciate both points of view. His clients appreciate his contemporary, international perspective and find it of great commercial value.
However, there are affiliated activities which also contribute to the business of Smart Viticulture. These include conducting canopy management workshops, and by now there have been over sixty of these conducted in most vineyard countries of the world. These are based on Dr Smart’s best selling book “Sunlight_into_Wine”. In 1997 he presented joint seminars on canopy management in Australia with the Oregon vigneron Scott Henry, developer of the famous training system of the same name. He has also conducted seminars on Italian and Spanish grape varieties in Australia.
Dr Smart is frequently invited to speak at grape and wine conferences around the world. He has a reputation for presentations that are both engaging and humorous.
Another related activity of Smart Viticulture is conducting educational_tours for winegrowers; these have been conducted to Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France. These can be conducted on demand.
Dr Smart has developed a method to study vineyard climates. This allows one to find the closest climate match of a grape producing region in the world to any one vineyard site. This is an invaluable guide to variety selection. As well, it can predict risk of frost, downy and powdery mildew, and botrytis.
Technical journalism is also an activity of Smart Viticulture. Richard writes regular feature columns for the Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal and also the Californian magazine Practical Winery and Vineyard.
Specialities of Smart’s consulting advice include:
- Suggestions as to varieties, rootstocks and clones, usually based on climate or soil conditions, and also site selection;
- Advice as to canopy management procedures, which is the best trellis system suited to the vineyard;
- Advice on irrigation and nutrition management, as means of controlling vigour and wine quality;
- Over recent years consultation has extended to Asia especially China where vines may be buried in winter. This contrasts with other Asian countries like Thailand and Myanmar with vineyards in the tropics, and two growing cycles a year, where Dr Smart also consults;
Since 2010 Dr Smart has become concerned about the world wide occurrence of grapevine trunk diseases. He has identified the problem in many countries and wine regions where it was not known to exist, and has developed protocols to control these diseases in commercial vineyards.