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Mitigation of Climate Change Impacts on the National Wine Industry by Reduction in Losses from Controlled Burns and Wildfires and Improvement in Public Land Management


Summary

Objective

The program will

  • Develop an early warning system for smoke exposure, enabling the targeted application of protective sprays in vineyards at risk of smoke exposure
  • Determine critical distances that reduce the risk of controlled burns to vineyards
  • Develop practical technologies that prevent smoke taint compounds entering the grapes, grape must and wine
  • Identify costs of implementation and assist with rapid adoption of the most effective strategies

Background

The intensity and duration of smoke drift into vineyards will likely increase as a consequence of growing fire risk due to climate change. It is therefore important that the wine sector adopts innovative and cost-effective remediation tools to minimise the impact of smoke exposure on grape and wine quality, profitability of grape growers, and the certainty of supply.  

Smoke taint and smoke exposure of grapes can have serious consequences for the economic sustainability of growers and producers. While this project will particularly benefit grapegrowers in regions close to forested areas prone to wildfires and subjected to controlled burns, airborne transport of smoke occurs over hundreds of kilometres and across all states. Therefore, the project will contribute to certainty of grape supply and benefit the profitability of the entire wine sector.                                                                                                             

Research approach

The chemical composition of smoke and practical ways to prevent its entry into grapes will be determined through trials using anti-transpirants and barrier-type compounds, which may preferentially bind and neutralise or accelerate the degradation of taint compounds.

The sensory thresholds for individual taint compounds in wine and the sensory and compositional profiles, rejection thresholds and consumer preferences will be determined. Current remediation technologies will be assessed commencing with trials in white juice and Chardonnay, with promising treatments to be extended to Shiraz and Pinot Noir.

The efficacy of vineyard and winery mitigation strategies will be benchmarked against compositional and sensory data from non-affected wine and sensory responses from sector experts and consumers.    

Sector benefits

This project will assist the wine sector by providing a range of tools to remediate smoke affected grapes and wine, enabling individual businesses to remain viable. It will produce valuable strategies that enable public land management agencies to implement planned burn programs more effectively, thus reducing the frequency of large-scale wildfires and their environmental impacts.

Funding partner

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme.