GROWING grapes in one of the coldest regions in Victoria is not easy.
During the spring frosts in the Macedon Ranges, grape farmers have to be vigilant.
Glenlyon grower Graham Ellender, of Ellender Wines, has frost under control. With a career as a dentist and a PhD in pathology behind him, he was determined to find a scientific solution.
He sprays his vines with molasses to prevent ice crystals forming on fruit.
"Sugar helps prevent crystals forming and horse molasses works well because it's cheap and can be sprayed," he said.
"I started using it in 1998 after we had a bad frost which nearly lost us everything.
"The problem is you've got to predict the frost and spray the night before because it doesn't offer long-term protection."
Dr Ellender uses a 10 per cent molasses solution which he believes gives a 2C span of protection.
"A lot of the solution is taken into the vine and increases the concentration of solids, which means it acts as an anti-freeze as well," Dr Ellender said.
"It lasts two to three days, doesn't change the flavour, (it) degrades and becomes a nutrient so it's pretty handy."
The technique worked a fortnight ago when frosts threatened the entire vineyard. And it helped in 2007 when the vineyard was hit with 31 consecutive days of frost.
Next year, in an attempt to understand more about frost, Dr Ellender plans to conduct research using computer mini-tags in his vineyard to track the way frost works.