Posts Tagged Waite campus

Smartphone app will aid viticulturalists

A team at the University of Adelaide has developed a smartphone app “to characterise temporal and spatial canopy architecture and leaf area index for grapevines”.

It will help growers, irrigators and scientists to improve yield and quality of wine grapes.

The team is led by Dr Sigfredo Fuentes of the Plant Research Centre at the Waite campus in Adelaide.

Read the full paper here.


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Brilliant and bonkers! Adelaide wine graduates impress Jamie Oliver

Crazy, bonkers, mad, brilliant and brave is how celebrity English chef Jamie Oliver described South Australian winery Some Young Punks.

Their wines are stunning, the labels shocking, and their approach to winemaking is minimal intervention, they break the mould and they all studied at the University of Adelaide!

Naked on Roller Skates? Monsters Monsters Attack!? Squid’s Fist? Fierce Allure? Passions Has Red Lips? Yes these are all serious wines with a fun twist. Check out the range of wines at the Some Young Punks website.

Read the full article here

Monsters Monsters Attack! SYP riesling

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Check out the Vineyard of the Future!

Look into the future!!

The Vineyard of the Future is an exciting project across a number of wine-producing countries with the aim of creating a “fully instrumented vineyard using wireless connectivity and automated data gathering and analysis”.

It will also be a test-bed for new technology and a trial site to investigate potential effects of climate change on viticulture in Australia, Chile, the USA and Spain. Universities from each country are collaborating for this unique project.

In Australia the participants are the University of Adelaide, lead by Wine2030’s Professor Steve Tyerman and Dr Roberta De Bei; and the University of Melbourne, with International VoF Leader Dr Sigfredo Fuentes – based at the University of Adelaide.

Check it out here!

Check out Vineyard of the Future activities and news on the VoF blog page.

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Groundbreaking wine-related research projects at the University of Adelaide

“Development of a novel canopy architecture-monitoring app for smartphones and tablet computers”

Dr Sigfredo Fuentes and Dr Roberta De Bei

This project aims to produce an accurate and cheap imaging and analysis tool available to grape growers and researchers to assess automatically spatio-temporal canopy architecture parameters using smartphones and tablet computers with high-resolution cameras and GPS capabilities. Therefore, field measurements can be mapped using GIS techniques. These parameters allow monitoring canopy growth and porosity to assess vigour, water requirements and sunlight transmission to the fruit and renewal zone of the canopy, which are important parameters to obtain grape quality attributes. Mapping capabilities will allow the zoning of different parameters to assess spatial differences of the same. This project is based on early research findings from the Vineyard of the Future (VoF) initiative. All revenues from the app will be reinvested in VoF research projects.

The app will be commercially available in late 2012. This app has the advantage that it can be applied not only for grapevines, but also for a range of other crops and trees, such as apple trees, olive trees, forests, etc.

“lnvestigating the potential role of calcium as a crop protection agent in wine grapes”

Brad Hocking, Dr Rachel Burton, Prof. Steve Tyerman and Dr Matthew Gilliham

This project will investigate the relationships between berry cell wall traits and cell vitality, berry softening, and pathogen susceptibility. It will focus on the role of calcium in berry cell walls at harvest maturity. This will be achieved by examining differences in berry development, cell wall morphology, and calcium utilisation between red, white and table grape varieties. A guiding objective of this work is to develop management strategies for application of calcium in the vineyard to maximise berry strength for resistance to pathogens, dehydration and berry shrivel.

Emerging results indicate that varietal differences in skin cell morphology and skin calcium concentration affect skin strength and that maintenance of post-veraison xylem calcium influx into grapes may help maintain cell wall function and cell vitality. Further research will be conducted to investigate varietal differences in cell wall composition and utilisation of calcium in the cell wall space, and growth trials will investigate the effects of a number of calcium treatments on grape physiology and quality traits.

“Simple quantitative assessment of Sauvignon Blanc impact odorants by HPLC-MS/MS”

Dr David Jeffery and Dr Renata Ristic

Analytical methods have provided great insight into the presence and relevance of wine aroma compounds, enabling greater understanding and control of processes and wine quality. One area requiring greater awareness relates to compounds known as polyfunctional thiols, which provide the characteristic tropical and citrus notes that are important to the quality of Sauvignon Blanc wines, among other varieties. These reactive thiols are extremely potent aroma compounds found at ultra-trace concentrations, thereby requiring sensitive and specialised analytical techniques to determine their concentrations in wine.

The aim of the project is to progress the development of an analytical method which is simple, rapid and sensitive enough to quantify the varietal aroma compounds important to the quality of Sauvignon Blanc wines. Sample derivatisation and analytical techniques are being explored in order to choose an appropriate method for routine analysis of polyfunctional thiols in wine at trace levels. This basic research will provide a foundation for more extensive investigations of Sauvignon Blanc aromas in the future. These activities are especially relevant for improving the competitiveness of Australian wines in domestic and global markets.

Note: HPLC = high performance liquid chromatography and MS = mass spectrometry.

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Read about current Wine2030 research projects

The Wine2030 research network provides funding for a wide range of wine-related research. This article summarises two very different and ground-breaking research projects.

Addressing wine industry challenges: Fine-tuning irrigation scheduling using Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy

Dr Roberta De Bei and Dr Sigfredo Fuentes

Water scarcity will continue to be an issue in Australia in a future climate change scenario. Improving water use efficiency by grapevines by developing new irrigation techniques and by improving irrigation scheduling will help the wine industry to face the issues of water shortage and climactic anomalies (heat waves). Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has proven to be effective in obtaining stem water potential (Ψs) measurements for grapevines, which is regarded as one of the most integrative measures of the whole-plant water status according to soil-plant-atmosphere conditions (De Bei et al. 2011). In this project Dr De Bei and Dr Fuentes will implement this technique to generate and make available site-specific calibration curves of NIR / Ψs to be used by the wine industry for precision irrigation. Furthermore, critical thresholds to fine tune irrigation scheduling will be obtained relying on vine physiology (water potential and NIR) rather than indirect methods, such as soil moisture or weather data.

Testing of this new technique will be implemented as part of the Vineyard of the Future initiative from the University of Adelaide, which will be a fully integrated monitored and logged vineyard dedicated as a test-bed for innovations in climate change adaptation.

Developing a novel method for RNA and DNA extraction from wines and its application to the wine industry

Dr Nuredin Habili

Reports on the detection of DNA in bottled wines have been emerging since 2000. However, those on the detection of virus RNA [RNA is the same as DNA with an extra oxygen in its structure and is mostly present in viruses (makes up the genes of viruses)] and viroids in wines were lacking. Our preliminary research showed that DNA molecules of up to 5000 bp could be detected in wine nucleic acid extracts using an extraction method developed in our laboratory. A segment of the coat protein gene of a grapevine virus and partial sequences of two viroids were also detected. One of these viroids is quarantined in Australia and it may cause biosecurity concern by certain countries which import our wines. This is only when/if the viroid RNA in the wine proves to be infectious.

DNA extracted from wines has the potential to address the following:

  • Variety identification, either as single or as blend using DNA fingerprinting.
  • Detection of micro organisms associated with spoilage. This includes detecting diffuse powdery mildew, which adversely affects wine quality.
  • Detecting GMO wines/yeasts.

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Wine2030 supports the debate @ the Waite

The University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute is hosting the next round in its Debate @ the Waite series on 15 March 2012 on the following hypothesis: ‘The future of the Australian wine industry will be based on technology, not tradition’.

What do you think about the future of Australia’s wine industry? Undoubtedly a major success story to date but facing challenges as are all of the world’s wine producers. We are at a fork in the road – which direction do we take? What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? What should we do to change for the better? This is a fun and engaging approach to addressing some serious issues which we hope will give you food for thought!

Six experts in all areas of the wine industry will debate its future, how to overcome challenges facing the industry, and the best approaches to prosper in the long term.

Hurry! Seats are filling quickly!!!

Follow on Twitter at @WaiteResearch or #agchatoz

The team speakers for the affirmative are:

Professor Steve Tyerman, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine and Wine2030 committee, The University of Adelaide

Dr Dan Johnson, Managing Director, Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI)

Professor Vlad Jiranek, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine and Wine2030 committee, The University of Adelaide

The team speakers for the negative are:

Mr Brian Croser, Tapanappa winemaker and Wine2030 committee

Professor Barbara Santich, School of History & Politics and Wine2030, The University of Adelaide

Dr Sue Bastian, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine and Wine2030, The University of Adelaide

The University of Adelaide’s Wine2030 is pleased to support this event and five of the six speakers are members of Wine2030! A short bio on each is given below.

With this diverse, informed and revered line-up there will be some informative and lively debate. So come along and get involved!

When? 6:00pm – 8:30pm, Thursday 15 March 2012

Where? Lirra Lirra Cafe, Waite Road, Waite Campus, Urrbrae

Admission is free! Prior registration is essential as seats are limited. Go to

Free wine tasting and finger food provided

Bitesize bios of the speakers:

  • Professor Steve Tyerman has expertise in nutrition, salinity and water use in plants and has been teaching viticulture at the University of Adelaide for many years. His current research is driven by the implications of climate change for viticulture.
  • Dr Dan Johnson – the AWRI is a research, development and extension organisation owned and governed by the Australian wine industry. As well being the MD of the AWRI, Dan is Chairman of the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference.
  • Professor Vlad Jiranek is a microbiologist with experience in the US and NZ. He researches the characterisation of microorganisms used in fermentation – and the findings have led to changes in selection, optimisation and management of wine yeasts by the wine industry. Recently he has been looking at the genetic basis for the preferred attributes of wine yeast.
  • Brian Croser is one of Australia’s most revered winemakers and leading exponents of terroir-driven wines. He was the founder and chief winemaker for Petaluma for 27 years, and later established Tapanappa Wines as well as a vineyard in Oregon, USA. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia for his contribution to research, education and services to the Australian wine industry.
  • Professor Barbara Santich is an internationally acknowledged expert on food history. She teaches courses on food culture and history at the University of Adelaide. She has published several awarded texts; the forthcoming book is Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage.
  • Dr Sue Bastian is a researcher and senior lecturer in oenology and sensory studies. She also conducts industry sensory training, is an associate judge for several Australian wine shows, and has a small winemaking business in the Adelaide Hills.

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From Anchorage to Adelaide – meet University of Adelaide graduate winemaker Leah Adint

Meeting Leah

On a recent visit to the Bird in Hand winery in the Adelaide Hills, I was delighted not only to find an array of excellent yet affordable wines – my personal favourites being the elegantly oaked chardonnays and the sparkling pinot noir – but also very friendly and knowledgeable staff. I was visiting with my winemaking group who had all sorts of questions for the lady behind the counter with the pleasant American accent.

Leah Adint

The lady is Leah Adint, and I discovered that she was just finishing her Masters in Oenology at the University of Adelaide, and would soon be moving on from Bird in Hand to work the 2012 vintage in Woodside in the hills, with Taras Ochota and Peter Leske, two renowned South Australian winemakers. Leah will be working on Peter’s La Linea and Vertigo labels, as well as Taras’s Ochota Barrels labels, and a range of contract wines for Nepenthe, Hugh Hamilton, Nova Vita and some other labels. readers will be familiar with Taras Ochota as the ‘Meet the Australian flying Swedish-Italian winemaker in the hills!

Leah kindly agreed to tell me more about her background and how a girl from Alaska ends up as a winemaker in the Adelaide Hills with some of the best winemakers in this country. Leah says people are often amused to find out she is from Alaska, given her chosen career, but as she very rightly says.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re born – there’s plenty of books!” Hear hear!

The path to becoming a winemaker in Adelaide

Leah’s father worked for a wine distributor called K&L in Alaska, and it was a lifestyle that looked attractive: “He seemed to be treated pretty well by the wineries, he was flown all over the world to go to wineries including California and France, I thought that looks amazing!”

When choosing a degree to take, Leah favoured sciences, and when she found that Washington State University had a winemaking degree, that fit the bill, and it was not too far from home.

That degree was quite horticulture based, i.e. more on the vineyard side than on the winery side. After four years she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in viticulture and oenology.

Then she went to California and did her first two vintages there – Sonoma Valley for the first and Napa Valley for the second, both times working in the laboratory. The first was a really small winery – the whole harvest was eight people and everyone was hands-on and friendly. At the other end of the scale, the second was the biggest winery in the Napa Valley, with an annual crush of around 120,000 tonnes, called Sutter Home. There were 20 people in the lab alone doing hundreds of samples a day.

Wanting to expand her knowledge further Leah decided to do a Masters – and was accepted at the University of Adelaide. She spent three months in Margaret River where her partner Steven Hicks was doing a vintage and fell in love with the place immediately. Then in June 2010 she came to Adelaide and started the 1.5 year Masters programme. Her partner started the same programme exactly one year after her, having returned from doing a vintage in Gisborne, New Zealand for a custom crush facility. What an array of experience this young couple already has between them!

Leah’s research focus

Leah’s first degree included courses in chemistry, biology, genetics and organic chemistry, which she found interesting, but all the more so when you see – “ah this is why the vines grow this way, this is why the pH is important in a wine”.

“When I came to Adelaide, the work is so hands on – I’ve made five or six different wines just over the course of the programme, from grapes that we pick. It’s a steeper learning curve when you mess something up with an actual wine. You see why calculations are so important because if you mess up an add – oh I don’t want to drink that any more!”

For the last part of the University of Adelaide Masters programme, there is a choice of taking more courses or doing a research project. Leah chose the latter – “you meet totally different people. Otherwise I’d never have met PhD students or research students, see a different aspect of it.

“Here you have the AWRI (Australian Wine Research Institute) working with the University of Adelaide, and if something comes out of the research, people are going to try it.” Having this array of experience and expertise on the Waite campus there is collaboration and cooperation between key wine research organisations. “Even as a coursework student you get lectures from AWRI people on what their research is, or answer any question you might have an answer to.”

So what did you look at in your Masters research projects?

“My research is on sulphate transport of the yeast cell, so taking any sulphur that’s in your grapes or your juice and seeing how the yeast interacts with it – generally it produces some quite negative characters. So maybe elimination of that transport would eliminate the characters. I have been working on genetically modifying these yeasts and trying to do it in an industry friendly way, i.e. you are not allowed to use any genetically modified organisms in winemaking. If you split the DNA and recombine anything it is frowned upon, but if you do it in a random way so that some random mutation happens, and it happens to be in that spot where you want, well that’s OK.

“So I did it in two different ways – very direct genetic modification versus this random – something may come out. That is actually still being worked on. My project was taken over which is nice to see as it shows you’re onto something substantial.

“It is applicable to the wine industry because almost every ferment gets these negative sulphur smells which you can get rid of through the winemaking process but it’s always through additions of things that you really wouldn’t want to add if you didn’t have to.

“More research is going on and I hope a paper will come out of it – or a yeast.”

On wine research in Australia – “I think the research and technology here is some of the best. Here and California probably have the most direct approaches and are the most inclined to try new technology – like the filtering and fining methods that people are developing.”

The passion of the grape

The question that will get any winemaker talking openly and sharing their passion is – what is your favourite wine – grape, style, the whole deal.

“Cab sauv hands down!” she says. “Everything about it from the grape to the wine it’s so distinctly cabernet. You can pop a grape in your mouth and the tastes and tannins are so distinct you know it’s cabernet. I love that really dark fruit, the big maceration and tannin. And it’s quite regionally adaptive. You go to the Margaret River and it’s completely to the Barossa or Napa Valley where you get the really fine tannins. It’s a fruit difference as well as a tannin difference.

“I definitely like the riper styles more than the Margaret River styles that are quite green.” What about the mintiness that you get in Coonawarra? “That was completely foreign to me coming from the States because if there’s eucalypt in a vineyard there they rip it out completely, precisely because it gives that character. I can appreciate it as maybe a complexing factor but it doesn’t do it for me as a wine character.” I was equally puzzled when I came to Adelaide by this character being sought after so I was nodding in agreement.

“My favourite white grape is gewürztraminer – it’s beautiful. When I worked in the Russian River in Sonoma, I was in the vineyards as well. You taste the grapes as you walk through – the gewürztraminer grapes are delicious, you can just eat a whole bunch. I love that floral, rosewater character, and the spice gives it a kick and you can make it in so many different styles – you can make a super dry style, or a sweet style, a dessert style. You can make it with a bit of colour if you want to, you can make a sparkling – St Hallett does a frizzante style which is delicious, it’s called the Frivola. It’s lightly bubbled and lightly sweet.”

As a gewürztraminer fan myself (see articles on this amazing grape), I had to recommend two favourites of mine that you can buy in Adelaide – Hugel from Alsace, France, and Lawson’s Dry Hills from Marlborough, New Zealand. Amazing underappreciated wines that take you to another dimension…

An interesting combination: “You would never find a gewürztraminer and a cabernet sauvignon in the same climate!”

Thanks Leah!

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