A new purpose built research winery in the Sunraysia region is helping Victorian Coalition Government scientists understand how smoke impacts on grape and wine quality.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh today officially opened the $100,000 winery at the Centre for Expertise in Smoke Taint Research at Irymple, near Mildura.
Mr Walsh said nearly 200 wine varieties would be produced at the winery and tested for smoke taint this year, with the first bottle expected to be ready around August.
“The establishment of the centre fulfills a key election promise to investigate the impact of smoke from fuel reduction burns and bushfires on grape and wine quality,” Mr Walsh said.
Bushfire smoke taint has cost the Victorian grape and wine industries an estimated $300 million in lost production and downgraded quality over the last five years.
Mr Walsh said the research winery would process grapes grown in areas where prescribed burns had been carried out as well as grapes subjected to artificial smoke trials in the laboratory at Mildura.
“The researchers will be testing seven of the major varieties of grapes from regions that may be subjected to smoke by planned burns or bushfire,” Mr Walsh said.
“About 130 wines will be made from grapes taken from vines in the Yarra, King and Ovens valleys over the past season.
“A further 45 wines will be made from grapes subjected to medium or high density smoke in the laboratory. The processed wine will then be tested at various stages throughout its shelf life against a control sample.”
Mr Walsh said scientists would use the results to develop a risk assessment tool to help growers assess the risk of smoke tainting their fruit and the need for smoke taint testing. This could save growers further management and harvest expenses if fruit is badly tainted.
The winery site has been refurbished with new and recycled equipment such as a press, crusher and capper from the former CSIRO wine making facility at Merbein near Mildura. It is comprised of five cool rooms, a wine and special smoke taint laboratory and tasting room.
The winery will also make research wines for commercial clients.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
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