This project enables the AWRI, together with its joint venture partner the University of Adelaide, to offer a specialist small-lot winemaking service with a primary target market of the research community and a secondary focus on commercial clients. The service provides research organisations with the ability to outsource all their winemaking needs both during and outside vintage.
WIC Winemaking Services processed 416 (6-150 kg and 1-2 tonne) batches of wine during the 2020 vintage, made up of 20% white wines (56% in 2019) and 80% red wines (44% in 2019). Over the course of the vintage more than 10,900 operations were performed by WIC Winemaking staff, an average of 26 operations per wine. Several clients requested to freeze any excess juice and two clients took up the opportunity to use the new pro-rata service where processing operations only were provided, based on an hourly fee. Agrochemical studies will be conducted in the second half of the calendar year. Dr Lieke van der Hulst was appointed as Assistant Winemaker in January 2020. Lieke brings both research experience and practical cellar skills to the team and has already proven to be a highly valued and respected team member.
The 2020 vintage saw a later start to the season with cool conditions in spring and early summer, before many regions experienced fires and smoke. More than 25% of the projects completed by WIC Winemaking in 2020 were smoke-related, with fruit sourced from NSW, ACT, Victoria and SA. The smoke research also allowed WIC Winemaking to compare wines made using the AWRI ‘bucket ferment’ protocol with wines made from the same fruit under research/semi-commercial conditions. Opportunities to improve the ‘bucket ferment’ protocol have been identified and will be implemented and communicated to industry prior to the 2021 vintage. Use of the updated protocol will assist vineyard managers and winemakers to produce consistent quality ‘bucket ferments’ and provide a more accurate evaluation of potentially smoke-affected wine in future years.
WIC Winemaking Services was able to continue all scheduled work and meet trial outcomes during the COVID-19 restrictions. Specific protocols were developed to allow fruit intake and deliveries to continue and additional work was required as all external clients, service providers and personnel were prohibited from entering the winery.
In 2018/2019 WIC Winemaking Services expanded its services to include a capability to produce bottle-fermented sparkling wine. A total of 480 bottles of Chardonnay (16 bottles each of 30 different trial parameters) were made and this year, those wines were disgorged, dosaged and recapped using some makeshift disgorging equipment. The resulting wines were well received and free of faults.
Con Simos, John Gledhill