Tag Archives: Waite Campus

Debate: Grape and wine quality doesn’t matter – it’s marketing that sells wine!

Green Vines

The Australian wine industry has made huge gains based on investment in research and development during the past 30-50 years, giving us the edge in a competitive global market. Industry levy and government-funded research has led to knowledge and applications that have enabled significant improvements in grape and wine quality, as well as productivity and yield increases.

In an era of more costly inputs and diminishing returns, and with Australian wine no longer the ‘flavour of the month’ internationally, is it time to shift investment to support marketing efforts that increase the future growth and profitability of the industry? Many winemakers feel the challenging global economic and market forces they now face are more immediate and grave than longer-term environmental threats such as soil salinity and climate change.

On the other hand, the fruit of much labour in R&D is slow to reveal itself – a 20-year time lag between discovery in the lab and application in the field is commonly cited in agricultural science. In some areas this has dropped to as little as six years to meet industry imperatives. An exciting period lies ahead, with many more possibilities evident on the knowledge horizon, but the rising costs of research, funding cuts and a diminution in the perceived value and importance of R&D to the industry are real threats.

Why bother making better wine if we can’t sell it? Can consumers tell the difference between average wine and great wine anyway? Is increasing the marketing spend (especially if it’s at the expense of R&D) a sound investment strategy, or a sign of desperation from an industry under pressure in a world that has become short-sighted, shallow and dollar-driven?

In this exciting and important debate, moderated by Dr Paul Willis, Director RiAus, six experts in two teams will argue for your vote.

For the affirmative team …

  • Professor Pascale Quester Deputy Vice Chancellor & Vice-President (Academic), The University of Adelaide
  • Professor Larry Lockshin Pro-Vice Chancellor, Strategic Coordination, Professor of Wine Marketing and Head of the School of Marketing, University of SA
  • Dr Roberta Veale Program Director – Wine Business The Business School, Marketing, Faculty of the Professions, The University of Adelaide

For the negative team …

Will you be for or against?

Date: Thursday 17 October 2013 Time: 6.00pm (for a 6.30pm start) to 8.30pm
Place: Lirra Lirra Café, McLeod House, Waite Road, Waite Campus, Urrbrae Finger food and cash bar provided
Event is free. Please register at http://www.adelaide.edu.au/wri/events/debate/

Getting a good look at the Waite Campus

This story was orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Visitors to the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus will have the opportunity for a unique view of the campus as part of a Waite Information Day on Sunday 21 July.

A limited number of free helicopter rides over the campus are being offered along with information talks, tours of teaching and research facilities and hands-on activities.

The University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine is based at the Waite Campus at Urrbrae and offers three undergraduate degrees: Agricultural Sciences, Viticulture and Oenology, and Food and Nutrition Science.

On Sunday 21 July, there will be two information sessions – at 10am and 1pm. Prospective students and their parents will have an opportunity to speak with academic staff and current students about specific areas of study, the nature of the degrees and career opportunities.

Campus tours include the Plant Accelerator, the Wine Science Laboratory and the Sensory Evaluation teaching laboratories and visitors can take part in hands-on learning experiences such as simple laboratory analyses and sensory evaluation.

Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Professor Mike Wilkinson says: There are tremendous opportunities for careers in these fields and our graduates are in great demand.

“We encourage all those interested to come and hear from academic staff about what the degrees cover and where they may lead and to see the fantastic facilities and learning environment of the Waite Campus. It will be an enjoyable day with plenty to see and do.”

All those wishing to attend need to register at https://agwine.adelaide.edu.au/news_events/infosessions/. The five minute helicopter tours will be subject to weather conditions and are only open to those who register early

 

Breeding superior almonds for a growing industry

This story was orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Monday, 20 May, 2013

Almonds. Image courtesy of Dr Michelle Wirthensohn

Almonds. Image courtesy of Dr Michelle Wirthensohn

More nutritious almonds for consumers and a greater range of high-quality varieties for industry – these are the aims of the Australian Almond Breeding program at the University of Adelaide, which has just received industry funding of $2.35 million to continue developing new almond varieties.

The almond breeding program, based in the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus, is the only one of its kind in Australia.

The new project, which will cost $2.35 million over five years, has been funded by Horticulture Australia Ltd using the Almond Industry levy and matched funds from the Australian Government. This funding will enable the program to run commercial trials of promising almond selections already developed at the Waite Campus.

“Australia is now the second biggest producer of almonds in the world, with most being exported to India. Our goal is to increase current production by 15% in the next five years, and to decrease the reliance on existing cultivars over the next 10 years, to allow the industry to take advantage of this growing market,” says the leader of the Australian Almond Breeding program, Dr Michelle Wirthensohn, a Horticulture Australia Research Fellow at the University.

Dr Wirthensohn says the major challenges for the almond industry are kernel yield and quality, disease tolerance and self-fertility.

“The best almond variety currently in Australia is Nonpareil, which needs other varieties and bees for pollination. This means that up to half of the trees in some orchards are less productive, and potentially decreasing bee populations could limit production even further, which places the industry at some risk,” she says.

“That’s where our breeding program will have benefits for industry, by providing a bigger range of almond varieties, by improving the productivity of those varieties, and at the same time producing a more nutritious almond for the consumer.”

Dr Wirthensohn says the program currently has a number of promising breeding lines in large-scale trials, which have been developed from crossing Australian, Spanish, French and American cultivars.

“We expect to release up to five superior almond varieties by 2018,” she says.

Crush 2012: The grape and wine science symposium

Crush 2012 is a two-day national symposium dedicated to grape and wine research.

It provides a forum for researchers, students and technologists in both viticulture and oenology to discuss the application of their work to the opportunities and challenges faced by the wine sector.

The global success Australia’s wine offer was built on the back of a strong research-based culture of innovation. To some extent, the world has caught up, but our researchers are continuing their work to ensure that in a fiercely competitive domestic and global market, our wines will continue to have a winning  edge. This is particularly important in our domestic market where a combination of factors, including exchange rates, now sees Australian wine losing market share to imported wines.

This is an excellent opportunity for all researchers, whether current PhD or Masters students, early-career post-doctoral scientists or experienced investigators, to present the results of their work to their peers and benefit from building collaborative networks. Wine industry leaders will be on hand to guide the all important discussions at the end of each half-day session.

Themes to be explored include the lowering of alcohol in wine without diminishing quality, moves to ‘greener’ farming methods and the ongoing quest to better understand the origins of flavour, both in the vineyard and in the winery. An exciting, inclusive part of the program are the ‘snapshots’, where up to 20 researchers will have 5 minutes to  share their work with the audience – this is the researchers’  version of speed dating.

Convened by the Wine Innovation Cluster and held at the Waite Campus, Urrbrae, Crush 2012 presents an opportunity to both share current findings and explore further opportunities for collaborative research through the strong networking focus.

The Waite Research Institute is proud to be a sponsor of Crush 2012: the grape and wine science symposium. For more information (and the program) click here.

South Australian Tall Poppies – Dr Kerry Wilkinson and Dr Matt Gilliham

 

Congratulations to Drs Kerry Wilkinson and Matt Gilliham on being named 2012 South Australian Young Tall Poppies at a reception in Government House on 22 August. They were among eight young South Australian scientists to receive awards this year.

The Tall Poppy campaign was established in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to promote public awareness of Australia’s intellectual achievements. These prestigious awards uniquely acknowledge the recipients’ research achievements alongside their capacity and commitment to communicate science and its significance to the broader community.

Dr Matt Gilliham’s research focuses on how wheat and grapevines might better tolerate salinity and how the nutritional quality of crop plants can be improved. Matt’s work into increasing salinity tolerance and crop yield will contribute to increased production in Australia and other countries with salty soil, and in doing so help combat food insecurity. This year Matt has also been awarded the Viticulture & Oenology 2012 Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry sponsored by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation and was recently awarded a fellowship by the GO8 Australia-China Young Researchers Exchange Program. Matt is a Senior Research Fellow within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology at the Waite Campus. You can follow Matt on Twitter (@IonPlants) for updates on his work.

Dr Kerry Wilkinson’s research interests concern the compounds present in grapes and wine which affect aroma and flavour. This includes efforts to better understand the effect of bushfire smoke on grape and wine quality. In 2009 after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, local winemakers found that some wines made from smoke-exposed grapes smelled and tasted like smoked bacon, cold campfires and Band-Aids. The estimated cost to the Victorian wine industry due to ‘smoke taint’ is more than $300 million. Kerry’s research has identified compounds responsible for ‘smoke taint’ and methods for removing them, a valuable development for Australia’s third biggest export industry. Kerry is a Senior Lecturer in Oenology at the Waite Campus.

Both Matt and Kerry are participants in the Waite Research Institute’s Research Leadership Development Program.

Matt received his award and congratulations from His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce at the reception at Government House. Kerry is currently attending a conference in Philadelphia and Prof Eileen Scott accepted the award on her behalf.

We wish them well in the coming year as they continue their outreach to schools and the broader community as part of the Tall Poppy Campaign to promote and encourage an interest and engagement in science.