Welcome to the latest edition of Decanted in which you will find news and snippets of research and extension activities from the teams at the NWGIC.
Since the last edition we’ve been pleased to welcome Charles Sturt University (CSU) online wine science and viticulture students to Wagga Wagga for residential school. It was wonderful to see students in the corridors, as they always which bring a vibrancy and fresh perspective to the NWGIC.
I really enjoy talking with our students and listening to their perspectives of the big issues in the wine industry. Without fail nearly everyone is discussing, and expressing their concern, about the current dry weather and how this may play out for the next growing season. Record low rainfalls across most of Eastern Australia means dry soil water profiles, and low water storage in catchments. We’ve seen the second consecutive dry winter and we can probably expect reduced yields like those experienced in 2017. It’s not all bad news though, prices for grapes and industry profitability is increasing and the general mood is one of cautious optimism.
The NSW Wine Industry Association held their annual Strategy Forum over two days in Orange in August. The NWGIC was well represented with our NSW DPI Extension and Development colleagues, our winemaker, and two recently appointed Postdoctoral Researcher appointments in attendance, along with myself. The interaction of young researchers with industry personnel is critical to the development of long term relationships that sustain and support the NWGIC. We the researchers need strong industry links, but so too does industry require good relationships with research providers.
Strong relationships lead to better understanding of how each sector works; what the drivers for success are, and ultimately provide mutually beneficial outcomes that sustain industry and research careers. Without actively supporting and encouraging research careers, young people will not be attracted to work on wine industry related problems. Equally young and vibrant researchers engaged with industry partners, in regional and rural industries, will support those communities leading to a more profitable and sustainable future for all. This is a co-dependent relationship between researchers and industry and one which must always be mutually respectful and carefully considered. In this newsletter you will read some of the stories behind our researchers, what motivates and drives them to success and how they are working hard to improve the Australian wine industry.
NWGIC Director Professor Leigh Schmidtke
Quicker, easier test for copper in white wine
National Wine and Grape Industry (NWGIC) and Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) researchers have developed a new faster method for assessing the total concentration of copper (Cu) in white wine.
The research is part of a project funded by Wine Australia, ‘Metal ion speciation: Understanding its role in wine development and generating a tool to minimise wine spoilage.’
Dr Andrew Clark said a colorimetric test for total Cu concentration in wine has been developed to provide valuable information to winemakers.
“Previously winemakers haven’t been able to measure the Cu concentration of their wine without sending samples away for analysis.
“The colorimetric test will allow winemakers, in particular smaller winemakers, to assess the amount of Cu in their wine after fermentation, during a Cu fining trial, after Cu addition, after bentonite fining and/or after membrane filtration.”
Read more about the project on the Wine Australia website.
WineOz SmartGrape App available
A new tool to make it easier to track the development of grapes in the vineyard is now in the palm of your hand- more specifically an app for the mobile phone that’s in the palm of your hand.
National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) research has developed an app for Android mobile phones to analyse images of grape bunches by giving an approximation of the berry size and colour/hue.
The WineOz SmartGrape mobile app is funded by Wine Australia and will allow growers to track the development of the size and colour, giving growers information to make harvest and vineyard management decisions.
Congratulations to the project team of Professor Leigh Schmidtke, Dr Ken Ang (investigator), Dr Jasmine Seng (investigator) and Mr Alex Oczkowski (programmer).
Read more about the app on the NWGIC website.
Read more about the project on the Wine Australia website.
Grapevine Management Guide
The 2018–2019 edition of the Grapevine management guide focuses on managing pests and diseases in vineyards.
The latest research being conducted at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) is outlined by Centre director, Leigh Schmidtke, with several scientists from the Centre providing papers and updates on trunk disease, impacts of herbicide drift and potassium nutrition.
Download the guide here.
Time to raise a glass and toast Dr Rocco Longo who’s been awarded his PhD by Charles Sturt University (CSU) - just make sure it’s a glass of low alcohol wine.
Dr Longo’s research through the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre aimed to find the most appropriate method for producing full-flavoured wines with an alcohol content of less than nine per cent.
“My research explored the impact of grape harvest timing, wine blending and ethanol removal, on the wine composition and sensory characters,” Dr Longo said.
“I found that blended wines and those subject to ethanol removal retained the most desirable sensory attributes.
“This research provides important information about ethanol management strategies for wine making to enable lower alcohol wines to be made with desirable sensory profiles.”
Demand for low alcohol wines is being driven by a number of factors including climate, culture and, in some countries, taxes.
Dr Longo was the first graduate presented at the CSU Faculty of Science graduation ceremony in Sydney in August.
“I felt very pleased to be recognised for all my hard work and it was great to be able to attend the ceremony and share it with my family, my wife and friends. I had also the privilege to be the first one to graduate in the ceremony.”
His research was supervised by Professor Leigh Schmidtke, Dr John Blackman, Dr Suzy Rogiers and Associate Professor Peter Torley. It was part of a project at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production.
Dr Longo is now working within the Fermentation Research Group (FRG) at the University of Tasmania.
“My work is focusing on spectrophotometric measures for in-line sensing of juice quality for sparkling wines and for discriminating the provenance of juice. I’m also examining sensory benchmarking of Australian Pinot noir,” Dr Longo said.
This area of research also involves collection and interpretation of site, soil and climate factors across the supply chain for Australian wines to describe triple bottom line metrics for traceability and terroir.
The National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) has welcomed four new independent board members.
NWGIC Director Professor Leigh Schmidtke said the new board members bring a wealth of experience in research and development, grape and wine production, and business management.
“We are pleased to have Dr Liz Waters, Mr Rob Glastonbury, Mr Andrew McLean and Mr Mark Bourne join the Board of the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre.
“The Centre’s research is focused on delivering solutions across the value chain to promote the development, sustainability and profitability of the grape and wine industries.
“The diversity experience of our new board members means they will be well placed to provide advice to ensure our research is meeting the needs of industry,” Professor Leigh Schmidtke said.
NWGIC member and Principal Research Scientist at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Dr Suzy Rogiers visited Washington State University (WSU) in the United States during September.
She gave an overview of the Australian wine industry and the NWGIC to viticulture students at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center.
Dr Rogiers also presented research results on a collaborative project with Mr Darren Fahey on antitranspirants- their impact on vine water-use efficiency and berry composition.
As part of the visit, she met with Prof Markus Keller's and Bhaskar Bondata's teams at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Centre in Prosser to discuss new collaborative research opportunities on berry development.
Dr Rogiers is pictured in a research vineyard at WSU campus in Richland which showcases a number of trellising systems.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) PhD student Ms Xinyi Zhang and the postdoctoral research fellow Dr Nick Kodoudakis took part in Macrowine 2018, a prestigious international conference focused on the wine macromolecules.
The 7th International Conference of macromolecules and metabolites which make wine magic (Macrowine 2018) was held in Zaragoza, the capital of Spain’s Aragon region in May.
The conference saw 230 delegate from more than 16 different countries come together to discuss advances in grape and wine science, from grape growing, microbiology and metabolomics, to wine oxidation and sensory research.
Ms Zhang’s oral presentation was titled ‘A Novel One‐step Measurement of Total Volatile Aldehyde Compounds in Wine by LCQQQMS’ and she also enjoyed visiting the visit the Laboratory for Flavour Analysis and Enology at the Faculty of Science at the University of Zaragoza.
Dr Kodoudakis presented a poster as part of the research project ‘Metal ion speciation: Understanding its role in wine development and generating a tool to minimise wine spoilage’ (NWG 1401; funded by Wine Australia).
The poster was titled ‘Impact of red and white wine macromolecules on the removal of copper(I) sulfide by membrane filtration’.
“The conference offered the opportunity to get in contact with researches from other wine research groups and explore the possibilities for potential future collaborations,” Dr Kodoudakis said.
A group of students and researchers from the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) spent the last week of Septemberin Adelaide attending CRUSH, the grape and wine science symposium.
PhD student Julia Gouot prepared this report.
CRUSH is a yearly meeting and is a great opportunity for researchers, technical staff, academics and students to present their latest work to the Australian grape and wine scientific community as well as to the industry.
NWGIC members presented great research applied to plant pathology, plant physiology and grape and wine composition:
- Postdoctoral researcher Joanna Gambetta presented work conducted during her PhD on the effect of geographical origin on Chardonnay grape composition.
- PhD student Xinyi Zhang, who is supervised by Dr Andrew Clark, presented the new method she developed to analyse total volatile aldehyde compounds in wine.
- Postdoctoral researcher Nikos Kontoudakis presented his work on the development of a method to measure copper in white wine which could be simply used in wineries.
- PhD student Julia Gouot, who is supervised by Dr Celia Barril, presented freshly acquired results on grape berry polyphenol composition affected by high and extreme high temperatures.
- PhD student Jennifer Niem, who is supervised by Associate Professor Sandra Savocchia, presented her research on the use of endophytic bacteria from grapevines to control grapevine trunk diseases as an alternative or supplement to chemical methods. Her presentation has been awarded for ‘Best Innovation and Science’ due to the great potential of applying this method in vineyards.
- PhD student Pierluigi Reveglia, supervised by Associate Professor Sandra Savocchia and in co-tutelle between Italy and Australia, presented his work on identifying new phytotoxins produced by grapevine trunk disease.
- Darren Fahey, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) NSW DPI Development Officer - Victiculture, presented his work on the application of antitranspirants and their potential to maintain berry and wine quality.
This event was also a great occasion for networking and developing potential industry and research collaborations with about 100 attendees from Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, Wagga Wagga and Adelaide, and New Zealand.
Herbicide and fungicide resistance in the vineyard was the focus of workshops in August.
The Riverina Regional Program workshops at Leeton, Yenda and Hanwood were an initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) the Winegrapes Marketing Board and Wine Australia.
Experts in resistance testing and management discussed how growers need to be aware of chemical resistance and take simple measures to minimise risks.
This includes implementing resistance management strategies and considering alternative or non-chemical control measures.
NWGIC member and NSW DPI Development Officer - Victiculture, Mr Adrian Englefield said the workshops presented case studies from Botrytis and Fleabane samples collected during the 2017-18 growing season.
“I sampled a number of Riverina vineyards for Botrytis and Fleabane resistance,” Mr Englefield said.
“Botrytis samples were sent to the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) horticultural diagnostic service.
“The testing results from five vineyards and information from Curtin University’s Mr Lincoln Harper indicates attention is required if applying group 9, 12 and 17 fungicides.
“Fleabane samples were sent to the Charles Sturt University Herbicide Resistance Testing Service.
“Tested against a number of knockdown and residual herbicides, resistance was found against paraquat (group L) in five of the nine samples tested.”
Information on resistance management strategies is available on page 15 of the Australian Wine Research Institute Dog Book.
For growers interested in testing for fungicide or herbicide resistance in their own vineyard, samples can be submitted to:
For further DPI project and event information subscribe to VineWatch, the DPI fortnightly newsletter.
Riverina regional program activities are made possible by Wine Australia, the Winegrapes Marketing Board and the NSW DPI.
It’s not every day the patrons of a busy pub stop to listen to scientists talk about their research.
That’s what happened when National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) postdoctoral researcher Dr Zeyu Xiao took part in Fresh Science.
The Fresh Science program is a national competition that gives early career researchers an opportunity to develop media skills, pitch their research and share it at a public event.
Dr Xiao took part in the ACT event in July, presenting his PhD research from the University of Adelaide which found that a shortage of oxygen, increased by water stress, could lead to cell death in the grape.
Dr Xiao said, “Taking part in Fresh Science has given me a better understanding of how to communicate my research with a broader audience and the local community.
“The event also gave me the opportunity to meet other young researchers and to understand their research.
“I enjoyed the two minute pitch at the pub night the most. I had received positive feedbacks about my pitch and it was exciting to see that others enjoyed my pitch. I was very happy about my progress in becoming a more confident speaker.”
Dr Xiao’s research at the NWGIC is part of the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production.
“My research investigates the vascular transport into grape berry and its impact on fruit size and composition.
“I’m also involved in a 2018 Wine Australia Incubator Initiative, aiming to understand the mechanism of potassium accumulation within the grape berry.”
The National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) was pleased to welcome Professor Antonio Evidente from the University of Naples Federico II during August.
Professor Evidente is co-supervising PhD student Pierluigi Reveglia with Associate Professor Sandra Savoccia and Dr Regina Billones-Baaijens and this was a great opportunity for the research team to meet and work together.
Professor Evidente has over 40 years’ research experience in the organic chemistry of natural substances. While visiting the Centre he presented a seminar, ‘Phytotoxins Produced by Fungi Pathogenic for Agrarian Crops and their Role in Agriculture’.
The NWGIC also bid farewell to Mandy Schoeler a Master of Oenology and Viticulture student from Montpellier SupAgro in France.
Mandy spent six months at the Centre working with Dr Bruno Holzapfel on his project evaluating new grapevine selections.
Photo: Professor Antonio Evidente with NWGIC researchers, Pierluigi Reveglia with Associate Professor Sandra Savoccia and Dr Regina Billones-Baaijens
Name: Joanna Gambetta
Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Organisation: Charles Sturt University/ NWGIC
Joanna has studied in Peru, France and Australia. She has a Master’s degree from Montpellier SupAgro in oenology and viticulture and a PhD in wine science from the University of Adelaide.
Joanna is leading two projects focused on the impact of abiotic stresses (sunlight, temperature, drought, etc.) on grape composition. One on the effect of night temperature on the aroma of Riesling and another one on the impact of different leaf removal timings on the appearance of photoprotective compounds on Chardonnay grapes from the Orange region. Previously I worked on determining objective markers to predict Chardonnay wines’ quality which also involved the development of objective tools to discriminate between different levels of quality in Chardonnay grapes
Demonstrating for CHM104
Member of ASVO and ACS
Lately every day starts with a quick look at my emails and a cup of tea followed by a walk to check on my Riesling plants which are extremely active at the moment. Depending on the day I will either go into the lab or analyse data on the computer (although I prefer to be doing stuff in the lab). Most of my days include injecting something into the GCMS or having to pull it apart – depends on the moon I guess.
I am working on two projects at the moment, one on the effect of night temperature on the aroma of Riesling and another one on the impact of different leaf removal timings on the appearance of photoprotective compounds on Chardonnay grapes from the Orange region
At the moment my favourite part of the job is going out into the vineyard. I am lucky to work in two lovely winemaking regions, Canberra and Orange, and it is just a pleasure to be able to be out there during the summer.
To go climbing!
I guess that I am really into Rieslings and Nebbiolo’s at the moment (Campbell makes a delicious one for CSU by the way)
Learn more about Joanna's research on Instagram
Name: Pierluigi Reveglia
Supervisors: Associate Professor Sandra Savocchia, Dr Regina Billones-Baaijens, Professor Antonio Evidente.
Thesis title: Isolation and characterisation of phytotoxins produced by the Botryosphaeriaceae and their role in grapevine trunk diseases
The aim of my project is to investigate the phytotoxic metabolites produced by Botryosphaeriaceae species associated with Botryosphaeria dieback in Australia.
I have studied the most widespread and virulent species isolated in Australian vineyard, and I have isolated and biologically and chemically characterised different phytotoxins.
Furthermore, I am studying the role of the phytotoxic metabolites in the pathogenesis, virulence and symptom expression of these pathogens conducting experiment on artificially infected and natural infected grapevine plants.
I have been trying to identify the pathogenicity and virulence genes involved in the production of phytotoxic metabolites by these pathogens.
Funding body: Charles Sturt University, NWGIC Wine Australia
Prior to moving to Australia to study a co-tutele PhD program between Charles Sturt University and University of Naples “ Federico II” (UNINA), I have a research fellowship in isolation and chemical and biological characterization of phytotoxins by pathogenic fungi of legumes at Department of Chemical Sciences of UNINA. In 2015 I completed the Master degree in Chemical Sciences with honours at UNINA. During my studies, I worked mainly in organic synthesis, dealing with synthesis of C-glycosides with possible biological activity.
In 2010 I paretecipate to the LLP-Erasmus program (European exchange program). I studied for nine months at the Universidad de Alcala, Alcala de Henares, Spain. During that period, I focused his study on biochemistry and carried out research in the field of organic electrosynthesis.
Splitting my life between Australia and Italy it is not as difficult as you can imagine, the most importantant thing is the time management process. Essentially, I have been living counting the months for the last two years, trying to manage my time as best I can. Perhaps, the greatest difficulty is to find an accomodation for a limited time period: I lived in 4 different houses in last two years, but it is fine because I love the changes.
I really enjoy this lifestyle, because I always loved to get out of the routine and studying this PhD have allowed me to combine my passion for travel and adventure with the opportunity to approach a different scientific realities from the Department of Chemical Science of Naples University. Probably, the funniest thing about my travelling between the two hemispheres is that I have been escaping the Autumn for the last three years. I usally do a little bit of summer in Italy (July), then I arrive in Australia in winter (August) and I leave again in December (Summer in Australia, Winter in Italy) just before Christmas. I admit that it is often difficoult to stay away for a long time from the people whose you care about , but here I have found welcoming people, and I feel at home. Finally, I believe that flexibility and positive thinking is the secret to be able to adapt to this two different environments in which I live.
I usually wake up early because I like to get to work early in the morning. After breakfast I take the bus that takes me to the research centre. I arrive at my office and the first thing that I do is checking my emails before going to the laboratory, because usually I receive communications from Italy while I am asleep. Then, I start working in the molecular biology laboratory or in the chemistry laboratory, depending on which kind of work that I have in my schedule. I prefer to have my lunch break in the fresh air, because after hours spent in a laboratory it's always good to breathe fresh and clean air. Then I return to the laboratory where, in addition to complete the work started in the morning, I already try to prepare everything necessary for what I will have to do the next day. This habit of preparing everything in advance is a great help for the time managing of my research. Before returning home I check again the emails, however after closing the door of the office, the only question that passes in my mind is: what’s for dinner?
The favourite part of my studies is the investigation of the production and translocation of phytotoxic metabolites by Botryosphaeriaceae species in artificially-inoculated and naturally-infected vines, because it is an awesome mix between analytical chemistry, plant pathology and molecular biology, that are the main investigation fields of my research project.
I like to travel, visiting new places. I really love to go to the swimming pool, I am good swimmer and it is my favourite sport. Also I really like to go to the cinema, I prefer action movies, sci-fi and, considering that I grew up reading comics, I love watching superhero movies. Finally, I love reading books especially science fiction, science and travel books.
Tempranillo for its strong fruit flavours and aromas.