Australian grape and wine tech receives $9 million partnership boost

The National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) and Wine Australia have signed a $9 million co-investment research, development and extension (RD&E) agreement.

The five-year strategic partnership agreement between the NWGIC and Wine Australia will develop new technologies and provide practical information to growers and winemakers to increase profitability and competitiveness, as well as improve environmental sustainability.

The NWGIC is an alliance between Charles Sturt University (CSU), the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the NSW Wine Industry Association.

Wine Australia will contribute $2.5 million, Charles Sturt University (CSU) will contribute $4.1 million (cash and in-kind) and NSW DPI $2.4 million over the next five years.

It will fund research projects that align with Wine Australia’s Strategic Plan and RD&E priorities and have been developed in consultation with the wine sector in New South Wales and north-eastern Victoria and with the NSW DPI.

The projects will:

- determine the thresholds for botrytis and other bunch rot contamination of grapes, and conduct a feasibility assessment of the most appropriate practices to manage faults in wine when bunch rot thresholds are exceeded

- develop a decision support tool and a field-tested smartphone app for assessing fruit volume and predicting optimal harvest date

- develop a smartphone app for on-the-spot nutrient assessments and diagnosis of nutritional disorders in the vineyard

- explore the potential for controlling berry acidity in the vineyard through the addition of minerals such as calcium and magnesium in fertiliser to decrease additional intervention in managing acidity when making wine, and

- develop recommendations on how to tailor sulfur dioxide and ascorbic acid use based on wine compositional parameters.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said, “We are delighted to partner with the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre to deliver some outstanding practical tools and outcomes for our sector over the next five years.

“This agreement with the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre reflects our united commitment to finding effective solutions to improving the competitiveness of Australia’s grape and wine community. We would like to thank all of those who participated in the development of these projects to help us ensure the timely delivery of relevant and valuable outcomes for our sector.”

NWGIC Director, Professor Leigh Schmidtke said, “This research is based on meeting the needs of industry and aims to deliver practical information and innovation to make Australia’s wine industry more profitable and sustainable to support thriving rural communities.”