Through the collocated organisations on campus, The Waite hosts the major share of Australian research across the whole of the grape and wine value chain. Waite researchers are active at each stage of production, from understanding the interactions of vines with the environment within the root-zone to understanding consumer preferences for wine styles.
Water management is a major challenge for grape-growers. Waite researchers are exploring optimal irrigation strategies for grape cultivars and assessing the impact of the water and carbon economies on vineyards. Researchers are also exploring ways that vines cope with water stress and other abiotic stresses.
The productivity of grape vines is also influenced by genetics and plant nutrition. Researchers at the Waite are investigating genetic and physiological factors that influence vine development such as flowering, fruit set and fruit quality.
The action of microbes is an essential part of wine making. Yeast, bacteria and other microbes find wider applications in processes underpinning the food, beverage and biofuel industries. In many cases, the microbial component of these processes is the rate-limiting step. Entirely new possibilities would arise if microbes could be more efficient. Building on expertise that has developed new yeast and bacterial strains for the wine industry, Waite researchers are finding novel solutions for other industries where innovative microbially-based transformations hold the key to adding value to products.
Production, distribution and marketing are also major areas of focus for Waite researchers, examining areas such as process engineering, winery waste management, wine quality and sensory analysis, wine and health and consumer preferences.