Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Decanted Issue 3

Table of Contents

  • From the Director
  • NWGIC researcher a finalist in Australian Women in Wine Awards
  • NWGIC Research: Systems approach to water use in the vineyard
  • Can rootstocks modify potassium uptake and help tackle acidity?
  • Practical application of research demonstrated at AWITC
  • NWGIC at the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference
  • Some ‘hot’ NWGIC research presented at the 21st GiESCO meeting in Greece
  • NWGIC Grapevine Trunk Disease on show at international workshop
  • New Charles Sturt PhD student begin their studies at the NWGIC
  • Visitors
  • New challenges ahead for winemaker
  • Profile: Dennis Greer
  • Profile: Julia Gouot

From the Director

Welcome to the Spring edition of ‘Decanted’ the newsletter of the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC).

The past couple of months has been an amazingly busy period for NWGIC members who have quite literally travel the globe delivering presentations at world renowned scientific forums describing their industry impact arising from research.  It may sound rather glamorous, but in fact the arduous task of conducting scientific research judged to be amongst the best in the world, is in fact a very demanding pursuit requiring dedication, knowledge and ‘stick ability’.  NWGIC members compete in a global marketplace for research talent, and that competition extends to allocation of presentation slots at conferences that attract the world’s best scientists in viticulture and oenology. Recently NWGIC members accounted for nearly 10 per cent of all oral presentations at two of the most important scientific conferences for the global viticulture and wine scientific community.  This is a wonderful demonstration of the scientific credibility and impact of our work given our relatively low quantum of funding in a global context.  You can read about some of these outcomes, including awards for presentations, in this edition of Decanted.

Vale Dr Tony Jordan OAM

Sadly we have recently seen the passing of one of the most significant statesmen of the Australian wine industry whose impact is iphoto of Dr Tony Jordanmmeasurable.  Dr Tony Jordan OAM was one of the founding academics of the wine science and viticulture course at the Riverine College of Advanced Education (RCAE), the predecessor organisation of Charles Sturt University where the NWGIC is located. Tony possessed a remarkable intellect and foresight that guided the wine industry and oversaw the establishment of Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley, development of mature sparkling wine styles, significant consulting roles, wine show judging and technological advances in wine making.  He was also a driving influence in the pursuit of innovation, knowledge and research that underpinned the industry during the 1980’s and beyond.

Every Charles Sturt wine science and viticulture graduate is indebted to Tony for his unwavering approach to excellence through deeper knowledge, scientific enquiry and practical outcomes that underpinned the course at RCAE.  Charles Sturt conferred an honorary Doctor of Science on Tony at the University Council meeting in August for outstanding commitment to the University, and the Australian wine industry through education, winemaking, consulting, administration and wine show judging.

When he was informed of this award Dr Jordan commented on his belief that higher level training in wine and grape technology is essential to the success of our industry, and Charles Sturt over that last 40 years has been a major contributor to lifting these standards in Australia.   Tony will be missed and our heartfelt condolences are extended to his family.

NWGIC Director Professor Leigh Schmidtke


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NWGIC researcher a finalist in Australian Women in Wine Awards

National Wine and Grape Industry Centre scientist Dr Joanna Gambetta’s innovative research to understand how the aroma composition of wine and grapes is affected by things such as temperature changes has earned her national recognition.

Dr Joanna GambettaDr Gambetta has been announced as one of three finalists in the Researcher/Innovator of the Year category of the 2019 Australian Women in Wine Awards.

NWGIC Director Professor Leigh Schmidtke said, “Dr Gambetta is an outstanding, engaging and highly motivated young researcher and her work is making an important contribution to our understanding of the factors affecting grape and wine quality.

“We are proud to see her recognised as a finalist in the Australian Women in Wine Awards.”

The Australian Women in Wine Awards, operated by The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society, celebrate and reward the work of women in the Australian wine community.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York on 18 September (AEST).

It is the second year in a row that NWGIC researchers have featured in the awards, in 2018 Associate Professor Sandra Savocchia and Dr Regina Dr Regina Billones-Baaijens were finalists, recognising their work in grapevine trunk disease research.


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NWGIC Research: Systems approach to water use in the vineyard

Research at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) aims to understand more about water-use components in vineyards, and the extent to which the whole system can be made more resilient to the risks associated with a changing climate.

photo of  Dr Jason Smith  in the vineyardCharles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) senior research fellow- viticulture Dr Jason Smith said a pilot study will examine vineyards from different altitudes and soil types in the Orange district of NSW.

“The Orange wine region is characterised by cooler temperatures, higher rainfall and a number of soils well suited to viticulture,” Dr Smith said.

“However, irrigation is still required to some extent in most locations and is sourced from farm dams and, or groundwater, placing a strong dependence on rainfall received during the preceding winter and seasons.

“With the advantage that comes with altitude, Orange will also become increasingly attractive for new vineyard developments.”

Dr Smith said the key will be maximising water-use efficiency to cope with seasons of lower than average rainfall, while at the same time maintaining a capacity to control canopy vigour in higher rainfall seasons.

“By taking a systems approach to water use in the vineyard and the variation throughout the season we hope to understand what growers can do to reduce reliance on irrigation, and use what’s available most effectively,” he said.

“These may include using rootstocks, canopy management and understanding more about soil water holding capacity and the effect of under-vine and mid-row species on seasonal water balance.

“The ability of vines to establish deep root systems may also give some critical buffering capacity during extended dry periods.

“Through the NSW Department of Primary Industries there are other research projects being undertaken in the region relating to climate change, digital agriculture and trialling new disease resistant varieties from CSIRO. Collectively, that means quite a strong research capacity developing toward adaptation and longer term sustainability.”

Dr Smith said the aim is to establish three trial sites with Shiraz to quantify water use components through the season, and then a number of other sites that will focus more specifically on soil water.

“A particular interest is the contribution of the deeper part of the root system to overall water requirements, and to compare estimates of total soil water available with those calculated from soil properties,” said Dr Smith.

“The research in the first season will install and test equipment, and begin soil moisture monitoring down to 1.6 metres. Sap flow gauges will measure actual water use and allow comparison to be made with calculations made from on-site weather data.

“The longer term plan is to understand how grapevines might perform in locations without current vineyards, and how water requirements might be expected to change in the future.”

While the pilot study is being conducted in the Orange region Dr Smith said the aim is to develop a process or framework that could be readily transferred to other regions.

“Our intent is also to make this a multidiscipline project, and bring together in expertise in soils, climate and modelling to complement the grapevine physiology and viticulture components,” he said.

The plan for research has been informed by consultation with local growers who have identified water-use efficiency and climate adaption as two key issues.


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Can rootstocks modify potassium uptake and help tackle acidity?

Acid adjustment during winemaking is a costly burden to the industry and researchers at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) have potassium (K) in their sights - in particular understanding its uptake by the grapevine.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) principal research scientist, Dr Suzy Rogiers from the NWGIC explains the link between excess K in the berry and acidity.

“Excess K in grapes reduces the free tartaric acid concentration in the juice and can modify the pH of both the juice and wine.

“A common amelioration strategy is to add expensive tartaric acid during the wine making process, in 2010 this was estimated to cost the industry around $40 million annually.”

photo of Dr Zeyu Xiao, A Wine Australia Incubator Initiative project led by NWGIC postdoctoral researcher Dr Zeyu Xiao (pictured), with support from the Limestone Coast Wine and Grape Council, has examined Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines on the ‘Terra Rossa’ soils of the Coonawarra wine region in South Australia.

“This study investigated the effectiveness of using rootstocks to limit K uptake of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, in order to manage acidity of berry juice and ultimately of the must and wine,” said Dr Xiao.

“The one year study was carried out in 2018 in an established rootstock trial comparing own rooted Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon on seven rootstocks.

“We characterised the concentrations of K, calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) cations to examine the links between soil, vine, berry and juice nutrient and composition at flowering and harvest.”

The research has generated promising results in identifying the suitable rootstocks for optimising pH and tartaric acid in grape juice.

The results of the project are being followed up with a longer study funded by Wine Australia in the Riverina and Orange regions.

Wine Australia’s Incubator Initiative connects early career researchers with wine regions. The projects are developed from priorities identified by Wine Australia’s Regional Program partners to support locally tested solutions to industry problems.


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Practical application of research demonstrated at AWITC

National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) research to make it easier for wineries to assess copper (Cu) in white wine has been showcased at the recent Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference (AWTIC) in Adelaide.

Dr Andrew Clark photo courtesy of AWITCCharles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) senior lecturer in wine chemistry Dr Andrew Clark was selected to present his research in the ‘Fresh Science’ session.

“The Fresh Science sessions provided an excellent snap shot of emerging and important research for the wine industry and it was great to be part of that,” Dr Clark said.

Dr Clark presented a new methodology that wineries can use to measure free, bound and total Cu concentrations in white wine with a spectrophotometer.

“The measurement of these different forms of Cu in wine provides insights into the effectiveness of Cu in wine against reductive aroma development,” Dr Clark said.

“Previously smaller wineries haven’t been able to readily measure the Cu concentration of their wine without sending samples away for analysis.

“The method we’ve developed enables wineries to conduct routine quantification of total Cu in white wine using standard spectrophotometric equipment generally found in most wineries, and using the same equipment to assess the different forms of Cu in wine.”

Dr Clark said the Fresh Science program and a workshop held as part of the AWITC also raised awareness of the different forms of Cu in wine.

“Our role in the workshop involved describing the measurement of forms of Cu in wine, how they can change with wine storage and their role in the oxidative and reductive development of wine,” Dr Clark said.

“We were also able to demonstrate the simple nature and accuracy of the proposed Cu measurement technique with Charles Sturt University PhD student Ms Xinyi Zhang carrying out a live experiment in front of the audience.

“A volunteer from the audience made a mystery addition of Cu to a white wine and the new method was used to determine how much was added. A recovery of 96 per cent was achieved much to the relief of myself and Ms Zhang.

“Participating in the Conference provided excellent exposure of the research and showed how it can be used by the industry.

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.’


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NWGIC at the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference

The Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference (AWITC) in Adelaide in July also provided an opportunity for National Wine and Grape Industry Centre members to present their research.

Photo of the in the winelight presenters , image by ASVOHere’s a snapshot:

Short and sharp research presentations

Presenting your research in just three-minutes with only one slide is a challenge but NWGIC PhD students Julia Gouot and Xinyi Zhang showed they were up to the task.

The pair took part in the ‘In the wine light’ student forum at the AWITC, explaining the purpose and impact of their research.

Shiraz sensory research on the big stage

Charles Sturt University PhD candidate and senior scientist at the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), Wes Pearson presented his research during the Wine Sensory Experience session at the conference.

His presentation, ‘Understanding the role of regionality in Shiraz – sensory and chemical profiles of Shiraz wines from six different regions’ detailed research to understand the ‘sensory fingerprints’ that differentiate Shiraz wine from six important Australian Geographical Indications.

photo of Wes Pearson by AWITC“Initially, large sets of regionally produced wines were evaluated using a rapid sensory method called Pivot© Profile, in order to obtain an overall regional sensory snapshot of the wines produced in that region,” Mr Pearson said.

“A subset of wines from each region was then carefully selected using the Pivot Profile data and further evaluated using traditional sensory descriptive analysis along with comprehensive chemical analysis.

“This has given detailed quantitative information of the sensory properties that can be expected from each of the regions, along with their associated chemical pattern, and provided links between regional sensory attributes and chemical profiles.”

It’s hoped this can help winemakers, the wine trade and consumers appreciate what sensory attributes can be expected from Shiraz wine for different regions, and what makes it different to wines from another region.

Overlapping climatic data will also be carried out to determine if climatic factors such as seasonal heat summation can explain the key sensory and, or chemistry findings.

The research has been carried out with Professor Leigh Schmidtke, Dr Sijing Li, Associate Professor Andrew Hall and Dr John Blackman from the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre and Dr Leigh Francis from the AWRI​.

Dr Zeyu XiaoPut it on a poster

NWGIC postdoctoral researcher Dr Zeyu Xiao from the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production presented two posters.

“One poster presented my PhD research investigating berry cell death and oxygen concentrations,” Dr Xiao said. “The other outlined my current project in berry vascular anatomy.”

“The Conference puts forward the latest topics in the Australian wine industry and is a chance to meet old friends and expand industry networks. It’s also given me new ideas to test out in my own research.”

Also presenting research at the Conference, Dr Tintu Baby, Dr Joanna Gambetta, Dr Sijing Li, Dr Michael Qiu, Julia Gouot, Xinyi Zhang

Practical workshops

Dr John Blackman’s workshop at the AWITC put the participants through their paces to benchmark Shiraz wines using the Pivot© Profile tasting method.  At the same workshop Wes Pearson summarised sensory findings from the Wine Australia Funded Benchmarking Shiraz project and Dr Leigh Francis explained some of the key correlations between the sensory and chemistry data. Dr Sijing Li presented her untargeted chemical analyses and photo of Dr Sijing Li presenting  her untargeted chemical analyses Associate Professor Andrew Hall reviewed the climate figures for the specific vineyard sites and growing seasons for the wines presented. ​

You can also read about Dr Andrew Clark’s workshop on measuring copper (Cu) concentrations in wine - complete with a real time experiment and his Fresh Science presentation at the AWITC in a separate article in the newsletter Decanted


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Some ‘hot’ NWGIC research presented at the 21st GiESCO meeting in Greece

An unprecedented heatwave in Europe provided a somewhat appropriate backdrop to the discussion on climate change, vine physiology and sustainable viticulture at the 21st GiESCO International meeting (Group of international Experts for Cooperation on Vitivinicultural Systems) in June.

Julia GouotNational Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) researchers Dr Bruno Holzapfel, Dr Joanna Gambetta and PhD student Julia Gouot attended the meeting in Thessaloniki in Greece.

Ms Gouot was awarded the young scientist award for the best oral presentation by a scientist under 30 years old for her work on ‘Single and cumulative effects of whole-vine heat events on Shiraz berry composition’.

Her research examines the effect of high temperature on grape berry tannin composition in Shiraz and is supervised by Drs Celia Barril, Bruno Holzapfel and Jason Smith.

The conference allowed her to present results on berry composition affected by extreme temperatures (above 40 °C).

“Even though Australia is already familiar with heat waves and several mitigation methods are available, European vineyards are more underprepared for unexpected extreme heat events,” Ms Gouot said.

“Indeed, at the time of the conference, Europe was hit by unprecedented hot weather for the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. It was the first time temperatures above 45 °C were ever recorded and vineyards in Spain and South of France experienced severe heat damage on leaves and bunches.

photo of the NWIC team at the conference in Greece“The conference was an opportunity to expand my network in viticulture research and to meet with other scientists investigating the effect of climate change, not only with respect to temperature but also light and water stresses. I’m grateful to Wine Australia, the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre and Charles Sturt University for supporting my travel.”

Ms Gouot’s research was also published in a special issue of OENO One with a poster titled: ‘Do high temperature extremes impact berry tannin composition?’

Other NWGIC research on the program:

- Joanna Gambetta, John Blackman, Andrew Hall, Leigh Schmidtke, Bruno Holzapfel, ‘Riesling aroma composition in light of changing global temperatures – Delving into the effects of warmer nights on the volatile profile of Riesling grapes’.

- Predrag Božović, Suzy Rogiers, Alain Deloire, ‘Hexose efflux from the peeled grape berry’.

- Katja Šuklje, Guillaume Antalick, Campbell Meeks, John Blackman, Alain Deloire, Leigh Schmidtke, ‘Grape ripening and wine style: Synchronized evolution of aromatic composition of Shiraz wines from hot and temperate climates of Australia’.

- Bruno Holzapfel, Jason Smith, Stewart Field, ‘Seasonal vine nutrient dynamics and distribution of Shiraz grapevines’.

- Everard Edwards, Jason Smith, Amanda Walker, Celia Barril, Annette Boettcher, David Foster, Julia Gouot, Bruno Holzapfel, ‘To what extent does vine balance actually drive fruit composition?’.

- Andrew Hall, John Blackman, ‘Modelling within-region spatiotemporal variability in grapevine phenology with high resolution temperature data’.

Moving to France

NWGIC researchers Professor Leigh Schmidtke, Dr Andrew Clark, Dr Nickos Kodoudakis and PhD student Xinyi Zhang attended the Symposium International d'ÓEnologie de Bordeaux (Oeno) 2019 and In Vino Analytica Scientia (IVAS) 2019

Dr Clark said, "A highlight of the 2019 In Vino Analytica Scientia was meeting Dr John Danilewicz for the first time. Dr Danilewicz is a prolific author in the area of metal-induced oxidative and reductive phenomena in wine and having read many of those papers it was fantastic to finally meet him and discuss our contrasting approaches to Cu chemistry in wine."

Ms Zhang was awarded the Samson Agboola International Travel Grant by the Charles Sturt University Faculty of present her research ‘Changes in red wine composition during bottle aging: Impacts of viticultural conditions and oxygen availability’.


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NWGIC Grapevine Trunk Disease on show at international workshop

photo of Dr Regina Billones-Baaijens and PhD student Pierluigi Reveglia National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) researchers Dr Regina Billones-Baaijens and PhD student Pierluigi Reveglia are armed with the latest information on grapevine trunk disease management after attending an international conference in Canada.

The pair presented research at the 11th International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases in British Columbia in July.

Mr Reveglia was awarded the best student poster presentation at the workshop for his research investigating the production of phytotoxic metabolites by the most virulent and widespread Botryosphaeriaceae species associated with Botryosphaeria dieback in Australia.

The workshop brought together 150 key plant pathologists and specialists in grapevine diseases from 20 countries.

Plant pathologists examining infected grapevine wood during the vineyard tour at the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia.Dr Billones-Baaijens said, “Our presentations showcased the research capabilities of National Wine and Grape Industry Centre in the field of molecular plant pathology, organic chemistry and trunk disease management.

“We look forward to putting the information we gained from this workshop into practice in our research and sharing it with growers and the industry”.

Photo caption Plant pathologists examining infected grapevine wood during the vineyard tour at the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia


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New Charles Sturt PhD student begin their studies at the NWGIC

A passion for research and practical industry experience are features shared by the two new PhD research students at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre,  Ms Yin Liu and Ms Stella Antony.

photo of Ms Stella Antony and Ms Yin Liu Ms Liu’s PhD is investigating the potential links between potassium (K) and berry cell death during grape ripening.

During grape ripening, cell death in mesocarp (or pulp), associating with berry shrivel and berry weight loss, is commonly observed in middle to late ripening period and could be enhanced by climate change.

Ms Liu’s project will investigate the links between K and cell death to gain more insight into grape ripening.

Ms Liu obtained her master degree in Viticulture and Oenology in the University of Adelaide in 2017, and has worked in cellar, laboratory and winemaking teams in Australia and the Unite State during three harvest seasons.

Driven by strong passion for research and physiology, she began her PhD studies at Charles Sturt University in July, working with NSW Department of Primary Industries principal research scientist Dr Suzy Rogiers.

Ms Antony will put her practical experience in the walnut industry to good use as she works with Associate Professor Sandra Savocchia, Professor Chris Steel, Dr Regina Billones-Baaijens and Dr Benjamin Stodart for her PhD research examining walnuts.


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photo of Julia Gouot, Dr John Blackman and Dr Helene HopferThe NWGIC hosted Assistant Professor of Food Science, Helene Hopfer from Pennsylvania State University in the United States. Dr Hopfer works at the intersection of sensory and consumer science and flavour chemistry and was visiting Australia to present her research at the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference in Adelaide. Along with tasting the Boutique Wines by CSU Chardonnay (pictured) she toured the NWGIC laboratories and met with researchers.

Dr Hopfer said, “I am amazed by the fascinating grape and wine science that is going on at the NWGIC, and believe there are a lot of potential for future collaborative research and scientific exchange. Similar to the Penn State Grape & Wine Team’s integrative approach to research from grape vine to wine glass, the scientists at NWGIC are conducting interdisciplinary and ground-breaking photo of Diego Danus and Valentina Romat research.”

A delegation from Dried Fruits Australia, the national industry body representing the growers, processors and markets of dried grapes, visited the Centre in July to hear presentations about our research.

The NWGIC also said farewell to VINIFERA Masters students Diego Danus and Valentina Romat (pictured) who have been completing part of their studies at the Centre.


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New challenges ahead for winemaker

After more than ten vintages of making wine at Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) and the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC), Campbell Meeks is preparing to take on a new challenge as the winemaker at Lerida Estate near Canberra.

Photo of Campbell MeeksMr Meeks began his Bachelor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt in 2005 before taking a break from study to spend two vintages at Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley.

He returned to Charles Sturt in 2008 and took on the role of research winemaker while completing his degree.

Mr Meeks said the experience of research winemaking has benefited his work as the winemaker at Boutique Wines by CSU, launched in 2017.

“Research winemaking gives you a solid technical understanding of the process,” Mr Meeks said.

“As part of the research I’ve also made wine with fruit from all over NSW, Victoria and South Australia giving me insight into the qualities of grapes from many different growing regions and climates.”

His favourite wine to make over the years was the award winning 2017 Tumbarumba Chardonnay, although he says the 2019 vintage will be even better.

“This is an interesting wine to make and we do it well,” Mr Meeks said. “It has power and concentration, flavour and fruit. It’s also been the most successful wine we have made, recognised as a regional trophy winner in the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge- that’s a career highlight.”

This wine also won gold at the 2018 International Cool Climate Wine Show, silver at the 2018 NSW Wine Awards, the 2018 Sydney Royal Wine Show and the 2018 Australian & New Zealand Boutique Wine Show.

Mr Meeks is looking forward to bringing out the best from the fruit from the Canberra region in his new role at Lerida.


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Profile: Dennis Greer

photo of Dennis GreerPosition: Senior Lecturer in Viticulture

Organisation: Charles Sturt School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences

Career Brief

Dr Greer undertook his PhD studies at the University of Otago, investigating the effects of climate on Chionochloa rigida (alpine snow tussock). Dr Greer’s research has included controlled environment and field physiological research into effects of temperature, light and vapour pressure on Actinidia deliciosa (kiwifruit) Malus domestica (apple) plants and Pinus radiata trees. Dr Greer has also spent more than 17 years teaching and researching in grapevine physiology, especially focusing on water and heat stress. He has also enjoyed sabbatical studies at the Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Palo Alto, California, Department of Plant Science, University of Umeå, Sweden and Department of Specialty Crops, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

Research and Teaching Activities and Interests

Research activities

Heat stress on Semillon vines

Effects of high temperature of photosynthetic attributes of grapevines

Modelling effects of climate on grapevine photosynthetic performance

Teaching activities

B Viticulture, subjects include:

Plant Physiology, Vine Physiology and Performance, Integrated Vineyard Management

B Wine Science, subjects include:

Grape and Wine Science, Plant Metabolism

B Agricultural Science, subjects include:

Crop and pasture Science

Professional Links

Member International Society of Horticulture Science

Member Australian Society of Plant Scientists

Member Australian Society of Horticulture

Member of the North American Controlled Environment Association

A typical day for me includes …

Marking exams and assignments, analysing data, writing papers

My main project at the moment is …

Examining the effect of sink removal on the photosynthetic responses of Shiraz vines to temperature and CO2.

My favourite part of my job is …

Teaching face to face and writing papers

When I am not in the office I like …

To do exercise, listen to music, cook and garden

My favourite wine at the moment is…



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Profile: Julia Gouot

PhD student Julia GouotSupervisors: Drs Celia Barril, Bruno Holzapfel and Jason Smith

Thesis title: Effect of extreme high temperature on grape berry tannin composition in cv. Shiraz

Summary of your research:

The aim of my project is to understand when, to what extent and how, severe heatwaves impact on grape berries to be able to mitigate detrimental effects and predict grape composition at harvest to maintain wine quality. Recent investigations on the direct effect of temperature have greatly enhanced our understanding of rising temperature, but have mainly focused on increased long-term average and on sugars, organic acids and anthocyanins. Thus, my project focusses on the impact of heat events on tannins. In brief, several pre- and post-véraison stages were investigated with temperatures ranging 38 to 45 °C during berry development, and 40 to 53 °C during berry ripening. Detailed tannin composition as well as a wide range of other polyphenols, including anthocyanins, were analysed by LC-MS/MS from fruit set to harvest. Physiology parameters and primary metabolites were also monitored.

Shiraz is the most planted grape variety in already warm and hot Australian grape growing regions and recent research has provided strong evidence that heatwaves have increased in frequency and severity during the spring and summer months. The knowledge gained through this study will inform when methods to mitigate heatwaves should be implemented in the vineyard, particularly when berry survival is at risk. It will also help understanding the effect of temperature on berry phenolic composition at harvest and extractability which may allow adaptation of winemaking protocols.

My PhD project is funded by Charles Sturt University through a Postgraduate Research and International Tuition payment scholarship.

Career and studies till now:

I first joined the NWGIC in January 2015 to complete a six-month internship with Dr Celia Barril and have not left since, working on multi-disciplinary projects combining viticulture, winemaking and analytical chemistry. I received most of my education in France, graduating with a Diplome National d'Oenologue (equivalent of a Master of Oenology) and an Agronomy Engineering degree from the ENSA Toulouse. I also completed a research Master in Analytical Chemistry/Chemometrics at AgroParisTech and travelled to South Africa and Switzerland as part of my winemaking and lab training.

A typical day for me includes...

I am not really a morning person so it will probably start around 10 am after several coffees. Then, I tackle the everyday tasks that vary seasonally, but are mainly computer, lab, vineyard or glasshouse, and winery work. I always try to finish the day with a bowl of fresh air (walk, ride, rugby training) and enjoy a daily glass of red wine with my dinner.

My favourite part of my studies is...

Field trips with vineyard work, and winemaking

What is it like studying overseas?

It’s an everyday challenge but such a great growth experience

When I am not studying I like to...

Play rugby, have a few beers watching the footy and gardening during the weekend

My favourite wine at the moment...

A good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra


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