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Managing the impact of vintage advancement and compression


Summary

Objective

To better understand the dynamics of sugar accumulation, fruit composition and ripening parameters during grape maturation under climate change conditions. To trial water addition (as a remedial strategy to deal with high Baume musts) on wine quality and style.

Background

Vintage compression due to climate change is now well-documented. The period between the harvest of early maturing varieties, such as Chardonnay, and that of late ripening varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, is becoming shorter. This places significant stress on processing logistics and capacity at the winery as well as delaying fruit harvest, which results in fruit with high sugar, leading to elevated alcohol concentrations in wine.

Research approach

Extensive analysis of existing data from the 1990s to the present will be carried out to track changes in berry ripening parameters over time. A model will be generated to assess the likely impact of climate change on berry ripening parameters. Addition of water will be evaluated as a potential mitigation strategy at the winery, and validated at a scale suitable for adoption by the sector.

Sector benefits

Grapegrowers and winemakers are looking for practical ways to manage compressed harvests and the associated high-sugar fruit. Analysis of data form the 1990’s to the present will provide insights for future research work. This project will evaluate water addition as an option to manage high sugar fruit.