Director's Report 2015
The year has been a very busy and productive one as students, postdocs and research staff pursued 18 projects that span the ‘grape-to-glass’ continuum in the pursuit of a multi-faceted strategy to achieve wines of the flavour and alcohol balance desired by consumers.
Our entire complement of ICHDRs and ICPDs was achieved in early 2015 along with our first complete vintage. We marked this achievement by holding the launch of the ARC TC-IWP. As featured in the 2014 Annual report we were very pleased to have the Centre officially launched by the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne.
The interest generated from the launch in the media and the research community continues to the present and resulted in some 80 press releases, articles, radio and TV interviews from all over Australia and as far away as the UK, USA, China, the Netherlands and Croatia. As well as delivering further inputs and potential new collaborations, this interest resulted in invitations for Centre students and staff to profile our activities, again nationally and internationally.
Several Centre participants have had their excellence recognised through prestigious awards: Prof Pascale Quester (2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards), Dr David Jeffery (Royal Australian Chemical Institute Medal), and Assoc Prof Paul Grbin, Assoc Prof Kerry Wilkinson and Dr David Jeffery (South Australian Interactive Media Excellence Award and Wine Communicators of Australia Award), among others.
The Centre’s Annual workshop provided an opportunity for the ARC TC-IWP to take our work ‘on the road’ and present our findings to wine industry delegates in Tasmania. A program of scientific presentations was accompanied by an excellent range of educational and developmental workshops for the ICHDRs and ICPDs (The Tasmanian wine industry, Masterclass on Tasmanian, and Selling research to industry), which complimented further offerings at home and through professional workshops. Collectively these development activities have underscored the training focus of the Centre and provided an outstanding environment for our ICHDRs and ICPDS to flourish.
On the research front, our projects have begun to provide interesting and impactful results: ● novel harvest and blending strategies show great promise for alcohol management without compromise on flavour and colour ● the genetic and physiological basis for berry cell death (as a cause of berry shrivel/juice concentration) are being defined ● a first side-by-side evaluation of non-Saccharomyces yeast for their propensity to lower ethanol yields ● the first assessment of cyclodextrins for removal of ‘green’ and spoilage characters ● evidence for the rapid and variable loss of alcohol from wine poured in glass (with striking implications for wine judging/shows) ● marked cost reduction and improved yields in ethanol production from winery wastes. From these findings, two new wine products were made this year, and several practices developed or validated by the Centre have been adopted by partner organisations.
Finally, during the latter half of the year I was based for extended periods at the University of Bordeaux and the University of Cambridge. In this time I promoted the Centre in Europe, met with overseas partner organisations, developed new linkages and secured an overseas placement for at least one of our ICHDRs. Whilst I remained in contact I’m grateful to all Centre participants for putting up with teleconferences and my being in another time zone. I’m particularly grateful to Dr Renata Ristic and Anne Auricht for assisting with the day-to-day issues as well.
At the time of writing we are through our second vintage and eagerly awaiting the analysis of this year’s wines and other experimental treatments. We look forward to the first of our current ICHDRs completing within the next 12 months. At the same time our interactions with industry and researchers have highlighted strong interest in the continuation of several projects or spin-off topics, both of which would form the basis of future work of high industry relevance. To that end we are securing partners and developing a bid for ‘TC2’, which captures the momentum, capabilities and research excellence of the current Centre in a new bid.
Professor Vladimir Jiranek