Bushfires leave a bad taste for wine lovers

Nov 13, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Australian winemakers are turning to the University of Adelaide to help identify grape varieties that are less susceptible to smoke from summer bushfires.

Oenology lecturer Dr Kerry Wilkinson will lead a collaborative project to counter wines produced in smoke-affected areas that exhibit flavours described as "burnt, ash-tray, acrid and metallic".

Over the past five years, wine regions across Australia have reported financial losses and a decline in product quality following either bushfires or prescribed burns.

Dr Wilkinson says the industry needs grape and wine production methods which minimise the uptake of smoke by vines or the extraction of smoke-derived aroma compounds during winemaking.

"We also hope to identify grape varieties suitable for planting in smoke-prone areas and find new techniques to detect smoke taint in juice and wine," she says.

The University is partnering with industry representatives and Primary Industries and Resources SA on the $497,000 three-year project.

"The aims and outcomes of this research are of major significance and relevance to the Australian wine industry," Dr Wilkinson says.

"From a scientific perspective, our results will advance knowledge in the fields of viticulture, plant physiology and biochemistry. From an industry perspective, this insight will enable grape growers and winemakers to make informed decisions to minimise smoke-tainted wine, yielding clear economic benefits."

The Australian wine industry is worth in excess of $2 billion in domestic sales and more than $3 billion in international sales, according to the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.

Dr Wilkinson says wine is now third on Australia's list of agricultural exports (after meat and wheat), although the industry continues to face growing pressure from environmental conditions - drought in particular.

"While smoke taint is not an issue for all Australian wine regions, significant bushfires have occurred in most wine-producing states of Australia in the last five years and given the forecast for warmer summers, the problem is only going to get worse," she says.

Provided by University of Adelaide

Explore further: Fire linked to dieback spread

Related Stories

Turning winery waste into biofuels

Sep 23, 2014

Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology have developed a technique for converting winery waste into compounds that could have potential value as biofuels or medicines.

Recommended for you

New technology maps human genome in days

56 minutes ago

The two 3-by-1-inch glass chips held the unfathomable amount of genetic information contained in 16 human genomes. Last week, a technician placed the chips - called flow cells - in a new genetic sequencing ...

Just like humans, dolphins have social networks

4 hours ago

They may not be on Facebook or Twitter, but dolphins do, in fact, form highly complex and dynamic networks of friends, according to a recent study by scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) ...

Norway plans to slash subsidies to fur farms

4 hours ago

Norwegian fur farmers denounced Tuesday a government proposal to slash financial support to the controversial industry and warned that it could lead to farm closures in vulnerable rural areas.

Hitting the borders of expansion

8 hours ago

Why does a species not adapt to an ever-wider range of conditions, gradually expanding its geographical range? In their paper published on May 5 in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), Jitka Polecho ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.