International scientific exchange program
This project builds on the many formal and informal collaborations occurring between the AWRI and scientists in other countries to formalise institution-level links, facilitate data exchange on pre-competitive topics, develop joint projects and encourage world-class scientists to conduct sabbaticals at the AWRI.
The BAG Alliance
The BAG Alliance is a trilateral partnership with L’lnstitut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin (ISVV), Bordeaux, France and Hochschule Geisenheim (HSG), Germany, and the AWRI, that aims to enhance research capability, accelerate research and improve the quality of technical outcomes for the wine industry.
Key areas of activity for the BAG Alliance during the year were:
- Creation of foundational datasets
In collaboration with HSG and ISVV, foundational datasets were created through genome sequencing, transcriptome and metabolite analysis from materials provided by all BAG partners. The datasets include:
- microsatellite markers for the rapid and reliable genotyping of the spoilage yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis at strain level, and full genome sequence data for a broad range of industrial and spoilage-associated Brettanomyces strains. These data are key to achieving a better understanding of how this spoilage yeast becomes sulfite-tolerant.
- transcriptome and metabolite profiles which characterise the response of Cabernet Sauvignon to increases in temperature during the growing season, as predicted under current climate change scenarios.
- grape metabolite profiles, wine compositional data and sensory profiles showing the effects of temperature and light exposure. These data are key to understanding how undesirable sensory characters can be reduced or minimised in Riesling wine.
- HEATBERRY Riesling project – investigating impacts of climate change on Riesling production
Two commercially available spray-on sun protectants were evaluated in the 2015/2016 growing season in vineyards in the Barossa and Eden Valley and compared to the effects of shade cloth and canopy structure. Metabolite data indicated positive effects for two of the three viticultural management options, and the results will be validated through sensory analysis of wine made in 2016 from these treatments. Improved methods for measuring bunch exposure to aid vineyard management decisions were also evaluated. Bunch exposure is known to dramatically influence grape composition and wine sensory aspects. However, measuring fruit exposure with current methods can be onerous, requiring repeated point measurements of light to account for changes in the canopy and position of the sun during the season and day respectively. Optical and chemical measurement tools that allow the easy and accurate measurement of light interception by bunches were compared to standard point measurements. The two new methods tested were found to be relatively rapid and consistent in assessing fruit exposure.
Knowledge exchange programs with European research networks
Ongoing participation by the AWRI as a partner institution in the OENOVITI, OENODOC and InnoVine networks is providing an opportunity to gather insights into new grape varieties, breeding and wine research and development currently being undertaken across Europe and to identify opportunities for collaboration between Australian and European researchers. OENOVITI is a European Union-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie network action focused on the exploitation of autochthonous vine varieties with focus on “genetic characterisation, phenotyping and pedigrees”, “tolerance to abiotic stress”, “diseases to control”, and “exploitation”. OENODOC is a three-year international doctoral program in oenology and viticulture. This network fosters cooperation in teaching and research, and supports exchange programs, conferences and student placements. It involves a consortium of partner institutions from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Chile, and South Africa, with Bordeaux University as the coordinator of the program. InnoVine, a European innovation in the vineyard program, has 27 partner organisations with over 100 participating grape and wine researchers and a total budget of 6 million Euro over four years.