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6/03/2015

Dr Julie Culbert wins $22,000 study grant for fining agents research

Dr Julie Culbert has won the $22,000 Viticulture and Oenology 2015 Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, sponsored by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA).

The study grant, one of 11 awarded as part of the Department of Agriculture’s Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, was presented during the ABARES Outlook conference dinner held at the National Convention Centre in Canberra.

Culbert, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Adelaide, will use her prize to employ computational modelling to identify the fining agents (adsorbents) best suited to removing volatile compounds associated with common faults and taints in wine.

Culbert said the occurrence of faults and taints in wines means the wine can’t be sold resulting in significant financial losses to Australian wine producers. Her research hopes to determine a more time- and cost-effective way of identifying which adsorbents should be used.

“This project aims to determine the binding interactions between wine components and various adsorbents, thereby improving the selection of adsorbents for specific fining or taint removal applications,” she said.

Culbert said while computational modelling techniques are yet to be explored by the wine sector, they have been commonly used in other fields such as the pharmaceutical industry.

“I’m looking forward to being able to help deliver financial benefits to the Australian wine sector by improving both the efficiency of these processes and the quality of finished wines.”

Liz Waters, AGWA’s research, development and extension portfolio manager, attended the presentation and congratulated Culbert on her successful grant application.

“AGWA is delighted to support projects from innovative young researchers, like Dr Culbert, which can then be adopted by grapegrowers and winemakers to help their business be more profitable and sustainable,” Waters said. “This project’s focus on using a new approach to designing an innovative winemaking tool will further improve the quality of Australian wine.”

Culbert expects to conclude her research in December 2015 and a full report of research outcomes will be available on the AGWA website following completion. The findings will also be disseminated via a conference presentation and publication in peer-reviewed and industry technical journals.

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