Charles Sturt accommodates Victorian grape growers looking to test for smoke taint

25 FEBRUARY 2020

Charles Sturt accommodates Victorian grape growers looking to test for smoke taint

The National Wine and Grape Industry Centre is working out of the Charles Sturt Wangaratta Regional Study Centre to make wine from samples of grapes exposed to smoke.

  • National Wine and Grape Industry Centre and Charles Sturt University extend smoke taint testing to include Victorian grape growers looking to gauge impact of bushfires on wine

Charles Sturt University and the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) are helping North East Victorian grape growers to assess the potential impact of bushfire smoke on their vintage.

NWGIC Director Professor Leigh Schmidtke said the Centre is working out of the Charles Sturt Wangaratta Regional Study Centre to make wine from samples of grapes exposed to smoke so growers can assess the sensory impact.

“When vineyards and grapes are exposed to smoke it sometimes results in wines with undesirable sensory characters,” Professor Schmidtke said.

“The impact of smoke depends on a number of factors including the growth stage of the vine and grape maturity, variety, how long the grapes are exposed and proximity to the source of the smoke.

“Conducting a small-scale ferment of potentially affected grapes allows wineries to undertake a sensory assessment of the wine to gauge the potential risk for smoke taint to develop.

“This, along with analytical testing of grapes provided through commercial laboratories, will give grape growers and wineries information to make decisions ahead of harvest.”

The NWGIC has been conducting small-scale ferments at the Charles Sturt Winery in Wagga Wagga but because of biosecurity protocols grapes could not be sent across the border to New South Wales.

Professor Schmidtke said to overcome that issue a facility has been set up in Wangaratta.

“Growers and winemakers support our research trials and we are pleased to be able to support them at this time by providing our expertise,” Professor Schmidtke said.

“Bushfires have directly impacted some Australian vineyards, and tourism has been affected in many other wine regions.

“One way we can all help is to continue to visit these regions, buy local wine and support our growers and winemakers.” 

Wine grape growers who would like samples fermented should contact Charles Sturt winemaker Johnny Clark by email johclark@csu.edu.au

The NWGIC is an alliance between Charles Sturt, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the NSW Wine Industry Association.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews contact NWGIC communications officer Ms Emily Malone on 0439 552 385 or email emalone@csu.edu.au

Photo caption: Colin Payne carrying out the small-scale fermentation at the Charles Sturt University Wangaratta Regional Study Centre.

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