Vale Dr Bryce Rankine AM

It is with sadness that the AWRI records the passing of Dr Bryce Rankine on 26 February 2013.

Many in the industry would know Bryce and be aware of the enormous contribution he made to wine science and the modern Australian wine industry.

After working in the oenological investigations section of the CSIRO at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, Bryce joined the AWRI with Dr John Fornachon just after its establishment in 1955. His initial work at the AWRI was on yeasts, fermentation, ethanol production, lead content and other metals in Australian wines, treating wine with ion-exchange resins and preventing potassium bitartrate deposition in wine.

By the time Bryce left the AWRI as its Principal Research Scientist, he had published more than 250 papers in trade publications, peer reviewed papers, conference/symposium/seminar papers. He published in peer-reviewed journals such as: American Journal of Enology and Viticulture; Annales de Technologie Agricole; Australian Journal of Applied Science; Connaissance de la Vigne et du Vin; Food Technology in Australia; Mitteilungen Klosterneuburg Rebe und Wein Obstbau und Früchteverwertung; and Vitis. He was also a regular contributor to many industry journals.

During his 22-year tenure at the AWRI, Bryce was extremely active in visiting wineries and regions to extend his work to help winemakers overcome production issues, and he commenced the AWRI’s valuable ‘help desk’ service, which today services over 1,000 calls per year. He also travelled overseas presenting at conferences and bringing back to Australia information about production practices in other countries, preparing the following papers for the Council of The Australian Wine Research Institute: Observations on wine making and wine research in France, Germany, Switzerland and California (1967); and The South African wine industry – a technical appraisal (1971).

By the time that Bryce accepted the position of Head of School of Viticulture and Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1978, he was arguably the most prominent wine scientist in Australia and also well-known internationally. In that position, he provided strong leadership and successfully fought for resources at a time when there was strong competition.

He presided over the time when the Diploma of Oenology changed to a Bachelor of Applied Science (Oen) and the greater emphasis on basic sciences that was a requirement of that change. Also the Graduate Diploma in Wine was introduced in 1980 and many Science graduates were able to enter the wine industry via this pathway.

The international reputation of the oenology program at Roseworthy was significantly enhanced during his tenure, partly due to his extensive network of wine scientists and the fact that he was an invited speaker at many overseas conferences. Also, by using his contacts at the highest levels within the wine industry, he was able to gain much local support for the program. He encouraged greater emphasis of the viticulture component of the oenology degree and the development of the degree in viticulture which had its first intake of students soon after his retirement.

Bryce, along with CSIRO’s Dr Peter May and The University of Adelaide’s Dr Bryan Coombe, donated images relevant to more than 50 years of grape and wine science to establish an online image collection available to current and future generations of industry members (managed by the AWRI).

A prolific writer, Bryce authored the following seminal texts on wine science:

  • Making good wine: first published in 1989. Revised editions were published in 1998 and 2004. A Spanish edition was also published in 1989. This text remains on the syllabus of The University of Adelaide.
  • Wines and wineries of the Barossa Valley: published in 1971.
  • Tasting and enjoying wine: first published in 1990 and reprinted in 1999.
  • Sparkling wines: co-authored with Armstrong and Linton published in 1994.
  • History of the Australian wine industry – evolution of the modern Australian wine industry: published in 1996.
  • Refrigeration for winemakers: co-authored with White and Adamson, first published in 1989 and revised in 1998.
  • Cooperage for winemakers: co-authored with Schahinger, first published in 1992 and revised in 2005.
  • SO2 analysis: In 1927, the Monier-Williams ‘aspiration’ method for SO2 analysis was published; this method was improved by Thompson and Toy in 1945 and further enhanced by Rankine in 1962 and then by Rankine and Pocock in 1970.

Through his outstanding career, Dr Bryce Rankine received the following recognitions of his contribution to science and the Australian wine industry:

  • Fellow, Royal Australian Chemical Institute (1969)
  • DSc, University of Stellenbosch (1971)
  • American Society of Enology and Viticulture Outstanding paper of the year (1971), first Australian member of the editorial panel of their Journal, Honorary Life Member (1993)
  • Fellow, Australian Institute Food Science and Technology (1971), Order of Merit (1973), President (1982-4)
  • Member of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin of Burgundy (1973)
  • Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (1976)
  • Companion of Barons of the Barossa (1976)
  • Member of the Order of Australia (1986)
  • Society of Wine Educators USA Award of honour (1987)
  • Honorary Life Fellow Australian Society of Microbiology (1987)
  • Australian Society of Wine Educators Founder and Executive Director (1990-1995), Life Fellow (1995)
  • Recipient of the Hartnett Medal from the Royal Society of the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce, London, for contributions to the development of the Australian wine industry
  • Recipient of the Maurice O’Shea Award (1998)
  • Centenary Medal for service to Australian society in science and technology (2001)

The funeral for Dr Bryce Rankine AM will be held on Monday, 4 March at 3.30 pm in the Chapel of Berry’s Funeral Home, 204 Magill Road, Norwood, South Australia.