The latest round of Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Projects includes a project to future-proof Australia’s winemaking industry from bushfire smoke taint. It is one of 10 research initiatives to share in $25 million federal funding.
The projects involve 29 companies including 22 small and medium sized businesses. Industry, Science and Technology minister Karen Andrews said the federal funding will unlock a further $58 million of cash and in-kind contributions from 52 project partners,
Andrews said without research to mitigate the effects of bushfire smoke on winemaking grapes, it would be an ongoing threat. “The summer of bushfires devastated many prominent wine regions in the ACT, NSW, SA and Victoria.”
The wine taint research project has been allocated $950,000 and will be led by NSW-based Cassegrain Wines with University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Professor Kerry Wilkinson, a world leader in smoke taint research.
Other project partners include The Australian Wine Research Institute, VA Filtration, De Beaurepaire Wines, Ligar Limited Partnership, and the South Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regions (South Australia)
Wilkinson said the new industry-research project will develop new methodologies and strategies for the Australian wine industry to manage taint from grapes exposed to bushfire smoke.
She said: “Vineyard exposure to smoke can cause significant financial losses as a result of smoke taint, where smoke causes grapes and therefore wine to take on unpleasant smoky and ashy characteristics.
“Together, we will evaluate promising strategies for mitigating smoke taint, including novel winemaking additives and treatment processes that remove smoke compounds from wine, thereby reducing the sensory perception of smoke taint."
“Prolonged smoke exposure by grapes can result in the decision to cancel harvest, and then there’s no wine production for that year.
“Bushfires and smoke taint remain an ongoing threat to the economic viability of grape and wine producers around the world, as we saw in the recent 2019-2020 bushfires.
“We also expect the findings to be of international significance.”
The project is supported by a number of industry and research partners including international technology company Ligar, which is at the forefront of molecular imprinted polymer technology and a promising smoke taint treatment process, Wilkinson said.
Andrews said: “Developing ground-breaking strategies to mitigate the impacts of bushfire smoke on vineyards will provide economic and social benefits to the industry and right along its supply chains, as well as preventing millions of dollars in revenue losses like we saw this year.
“Now, more than ever, it is vital businesses and researchers work together to collaborate on outcomes which will generate opportunities and jobs as the nation continues its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Since the first round of CRC Projects in 2016, the Government has committed over $314 million in funding to support 145 projects.