Smoke tainted grape donation to revolutionise brandy

Simon Tolley Wines vineyard

Simon Tolley Wines vineyard after the 2019 Cudlee Creek fires

Research into the use of smoke-tainted grapes in brandy production is an innovative project paving the way to sustainable, climate-resilient alcohol production.

In a venture led by PhD candidate Hugh Holds, grapes from bushfire ravaged regions are being repurposed in a bid to make brandy production increasingly viable in fire prone regions. Holds will create a smoky brandy, which he hopes will both appeal to consumers and reduce waste in the grape industry.

Holds’ research is underpinned by a scholarship from Wine Australia, and is made possible thanks to grape donations from Vinteloper and Simon Tolley Wines. Simon and Narelle Tolley contributed red and white grape varieties to the project, after the 2019 Cudlee Creek bushfires devastated their crop and burnt through more than 20,000 hectares in the region, narrowly avoiding their home. Holds and Simon hope the collaboration will come full circle within a couple of years, with a smoke-flavoured brandy possibly on offer at the Simon Tolley Cellar Door.

It’s rewarding to work with university alumni on research projects of this nature, which are made possible via their generous contributions in kind. These collaborations promote a feedback loop of engagement, giving and industry outcomes that are unique in a research environment.Hugh Holds


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