Winery to equal the best in Australia

27 MARCH 2002

When Charles Sturt University opens its new $2.5 million commercial winery on Tuesday 9 April, it will give its wine science and viticulture students a facility to match the best in the Australian wine industry.

When Charles Sturt University opens its new $2.5 million commercial winery on Tuesday 9 April, it will give its wine science and viticulture students a facility to match the best in the Australian wine industry.

The new winery, located at the hub of CSU’s wine and food activities on the Wagga Wagga Campus, is a state-of-the-art complex that will set industry standards, according to the Head of the School of Wine & Food Sciences, Professor Geoff Scollary.

“The modern, well-equipped winery is equal to many wineries in Australia, providing students with real industry training and experience,” he said. [ see background notes ]

The winery redevelopment, funded through its own commercial ventures, was part of a multi-million dollar expansion and upgrade of the University’s Ron Potter Centre, which included the $1 million C D Blake experimental winery opened in June last year on the 25th anniversary of wine education at the University.

The new facility, with the capacity to process up to 500 tonnes, replaces a winery built in 1977 designed for 50 tonnes. It was designed to allow a flow of material from the delivery of grapes to fermentation to the finished wine product. 

Today, the CSU winery produces 20 000 cases of wine a year for the Charles Sturt University label.

Highly educated winemakers and viticulturists are essential to the ongoing success of the wine industry in Australia, according to Professor Scollary. 

“It is essential that all graduates from CSU’s wine science and viticulture courses have a full and complete understanding of current practices for winery and vineyard operations, and the new commercial winery will provide an ideal training ground for providing this industry experience.”

Charles Sturt University’s winemaker Greg Gallagher added the new winery would provide a unique opportunity for students to participate first-hand in current winemaking practices essential for the production of quality wine.

 “It will allow best practice winemaking standards while still giving students great flexibility to use all winemaking techniques, from the most traditional to modern,” he said. 

Charles Sturt University’s wine science and viticulture courses have a reputation as among the best in the world, with graduates in demand across Europe and North America, as well as emerging wine export countries such as South America and New Zealand. 

Among former students and staff invited to attend the opening are CSU graduate Robin Day, Chairman of the Australian Wine Research Institute, and CSU’s first winemaker and lecturer in oenology, Brian Croser, a name synonymous with advances in the Australian wine industry, currently Executive Chairman of Petaluma Limited. 

  Background notes:  Charles Sturt University Winery

 

  • The site of the present Charles Sturt University (CSU) vineyard was originally planted with grapes in 1893. It formed part of the Experimental Farm established at Wagga Wagga by the NSW Department of Agriculture in 1890.
  • Applications for CSU’s wine science and viticulture courses remain at an all-time high, increasing by 400 per cent since 1996. Today 1 000 students are enrolled in the various wine science and viticulture programs, many of whom are people working in the industry seeking to expand their knowledge and qualifications. Most of the students study by distance education, a characteristic and strength of CSU.
  • The wine science course was introduced by the Riverina College of Advanced Education (RCAE) in 1975, and the viticulture course commenced following the amalgamation of RCAE and the Wagga Wagga Agricultural College in 1976.
  • The hub for the food and wine activities at CSU is the Ron Potter Centre. The Centre houses the wine and cheese commercial enterprises and is the home of the School of Wine & Food Sciences. Named after Ron Potter, founder of A & G Engineering in Griffith, NSW, and a benefactor to CSU, the activities of the centre reflect his commitment to excellence in the wine and food industries.
  • CSU’s wine science and viticulture courses have developed into some of the most significant wine education programs in the world. Graduates now rank among the leaders of the Australian and international wine industry.
  • Several CSU graduates and the benefactor of the Ron Potter Centre played a role in the development of the new CSU winery. The principals of the design company, WineNet - a major consulting company to the Australian wine industry – Garry Baldwin and David Wollan, are CSU wine science graduates. Mr Baldwin is also a member of the CSU winery management committee. Ron Potter of A & G Engineering, Griffith, manufactured and installed tanks, walkways, fermenters and presses.
  • A growing food science program at CSU blends well with the winery and wine science courses. The cheese factory, established in 1998, has won a swag of awards since it began exhibiting its farmhouse cheeses in 1999. Its most recent, a best of class trophy from the NSW Dairy Industry Association of Australia for the Australian native mint cheese, is its most prestigious yet.
  • In 1997, the National Wine & Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) was established at the Wagga Wagga Campus. Through the NWGIC, CSU is contributing to the development of the Australian wine industry with research of national and international significance.
  • The CSU winery produces its own range of premium table, sparkling and fortified wines as well as providing grape processing and wine making services for the burgeoning vineyard developments through the region, spanning from Cowra on the Central Western Slopes, the Hilltops area around Young and up to Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains.
  • Cellar door sales for CSU wine and cheese will remain at its existing location at the Ron Potter Centre, with visitors welcome between 11am and 5pm weekdays and 11am to 4pm weekends.
  • Tours of the new winery are also available for interested groups and visitors.
  • Further information about the CSU winery is available at the web site.

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Wagga Wagga Charles Sturt University