The staging and conduct of extension programs
The key objectives of the AWRI’s extension programs are to raise awareness and facilitate uptake of research outcomes, assist producers to understand the practical value of these outcomes and overcome any potential barriers for adoption. These aims are achieved by extending research outcomes in forms that encourage adoption by Australia’s grapegrowers and winemakers. These efforts include many of the trusted and successful extension initiatives undertaken by the AWRI, for example the long-standing roadshow seminar program, now held on a two-year rotational basis across Australian wine regions, and the roadshow workshop program, held on a three-year rotational basis. In addition to the roadshow program, a wide variety of training and educational programs in viticulture, winemaking, environmental sustainability and wine evaluation are delivered, including the AWITC workshop program, Research to Practice workshops, the Advanced Wine Assessment Course and other tasting events. Staff that contribute to extension programs also produce content for many of the AWRI’s publication commitments.
Roadshow seminars and workshops
Roadshow seminar content is prepared through various activities across the AWRI, augmented by presentations from WIC partners and other research and development organisations across Australia. The AWRI, WIC members and other organisations submit updated topics based on their research findings. Specific topics are selected by each regional association hosting a roadshow to form a program tailored to the needs and interests of that region. This interaction provides an important indication of areas of interest or concern to specific regions, informing the development of future research, development and extension activities. Roadshow workshops are presented by subject experts and are tailored to deliver practical advice to address current industry concerns, technical issues or challenges. The workshops are interactive in nature and involve tastings, diagnostic tests and practical exercises. The current workshop ‘Adapting to difficult vintages’ was developed following analysis of the calls received by the AWRI helpdesk and from feedback received at previous workshops. This workshop provides participants with strategies to adapt to weather extremes in a changing climate, and incorporates presentations delivered by the Bureau of Meteorology featuring the tools available to farmers and grapegrowers.
During the year, 17 days of roadshow seminars and 10 days of roadshow workshops were held in the following Australian winemaking zones and regions: Adelaide Hills, Pyrenees, Bendigo, Gippsland, Geelong, Great Southern, Hunter Valley, Langhorne Creek, Tasmania, Limestone Coast, Macedon Ranges, Pemberton, Margaret River, Mornington Peninsula, New England, Riverina, Riverland, Murray Darling, Swan District and Yarra Valley. These events included two smoke taint seminars that were delivered in response to bushfires that occurred in WA and SA.
In order to maximise attendance, events are publicised via a range of mechanisms including the Australian Grape and Wine Events Calendar, the AWRI website, social media, state and regional association websites and local press. In addition, staff liaise with the local associations to coordinate local promotional efforts within the regions, including discussion at local association meetings, direct email notification and often placements in print media. A total of 488 participants attended seminars across the 17 events, and a total of 222 participants attended the 10 workshops this year.
Electronic events and communications
The AWRI webinar series complements other extension events and is considered an effective method for disseminating information and knowledge to people located across multiple regions at one time. A comprehensive program of 21 webinars was presented by AWRI staff and external experts during 2014/2015.
Extension staff are also responsible for contributing a significant amount of content to the AWRI’s communication platforms including the AWRI website, eBulletins, eNews, Technical Review, Wine Australia’s RD&E News and a regular column in the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker.
Advanced Wine Assessment Course
Two Advanced Wine Assessment Courses (AWACs) were held at the AWRI during the year, with 16 participants in each course. The course is delivered over four days with more than 40 hours of content. Participants evaluate a diverse range of more than 300 wines under simulated wine show conditions. Lectures are also presented by AWRI staff and the course features guidance from a range of wine show judges, journalists and winemakers.
At each course, the top performing participant (based on statistical analysis of scores, verbal skills and group interaction) is named dux of the course and given the opportunity to participate as an associate judge at a national wine show. In 2014/2015, the winners of the dux prize for AWAC 33 and 34 (Lim Hwee Peng and Rose Kentish) were offered associate judge positions at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show and the winner of the dux prize for AWAC 35 (Jessica Ferguson) was offered an associate judge position at the Royal Queensland Wine Show.
Tailored tasting events
For the third consecutive year, the AWRI teamed up with the Barossa Grape and Wine Association to offer a 1.5-day ‘Wine Assessment Tasting’ in June 2015. From the twelve participants, six were selected as associate judges for the 2015 Barossa Wine Show. This partnership is working well as a mechanism to identify and develop talent at a regional level. A taints and faults clinic was delivered to cellar door sales staff at Rockford Wines and an educational tasting was held at the Jacob’s Creek Visitors centre for staff of Pernod Ricard Winemakers.
Collaborations with Wine Australia
The AWRI continues to support the promotion of Australian wine, and was invited by Wine Australia to participate in the Vancouver International Wine Festival, which featured Australia as the theme country in February. The AWRI provided a booth with a wine education focus, presenting common wine aromas, both positive and negative, including ‘Brett’, cork taint, ‘pepper’ and ‘eucalypt’ characters. The booth had a high profile with both trade and consumers, and received very positive feedback. The AWRI also supported Wine Australia’s ‘Aussie Wine Month – City Cellar Door’ in May, an event that attracted more than 1,500 consumers, by staging the AWRI ‘aroma bar’ and showcasing examples of wine aromas, wine taints and faults. Both events were staffed by the AWRI and featured static displays as well as tastings based on key AWRI R&D outcomes.
Institute of Masters of Wine
The AWRI’s continuing collaboration with the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) includes an opportunity for AWRI staff to participate in IMW events in Europe and the USA. Con Simos travelled to the UK in February to deliver a number of presentations to students as part of the IMW international seminar.
Research to Practice
The Research to Practice (RtP) training model provides practical, themed, user-pays training sessions for the wine sector. AWRI staff and external providers contribute to the design and delivery of the programs. Six sessions, attended by 145 participants, were presented during 2014/2015.