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Business as usual as the AWRI moves house

The Australian Wine Research Institute is always a busy place… but ‘busy’ turned to ‘hectic’, ‘chaotic’ and ‘crazy’ late last week. Over the weekend, the AWRI moved into its new headquarters in the just-finished second floor of the new Wine Innovation Cluster (WIC) building on the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide. The new premises are just a few doors up from the old building but they’re light-years ahead in terms of workable space, functionality and cohesion. Today — hopefully without a hitch — the AWRI staff start working life at the WIC, where they’ll keep on with the business of using research to give the Australian wine industry every answer and advantage they can provide. The other partners in the WIC will move in over the next few weeks.

On Friday, when AWRI managing director Sakkie Pretorius took John Harvey, executive director of the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation and Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker editor Anita Donaldson on an exclusive tour of the new premises, parking was impossible due to tradesmen and removalist trucks; and finding anyone amidst the array of empty desks, boxes, equipment and people, proved nigh on impossible. Still, somehow through all the chaos, the AWRI chief managed to keep a sense of humour, and was quite obviously a man on a mission: to move the AWRI with a minimum of fuss and keep going with the great research outputs being produced there.

As if it wasn’t busy enough with the demands of moving around 100 staff and all their equipment, plus keeping the $30m, 7000sqm building project on track as it nears completion — just over time but just under budget — Pretorius also spent much of last week fielding interest from the media following the AWRI’s breakthrough that it has cracked the genetic code of wine yeast.

Pretorius said he knew the announcement — first launched to the world on Winetitles’ Daily Wine News service — would attract industry attention but never expected the local news media would show so much interest. “I just wished it had happened this week when we could have been in our new building and had somewhere to host the TV crews and something to show them that wasn’t packed in a box,” he quipped.

The full story of the genetic code breakthrough is in the September/October issue of The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal, published by Winetitles. Subscribers will receive their copy within the next week.

Meanwhile, the WIC officially opens on 19 November. When complete, it will house five key organisations in wine and grape research, including the AWRI, CSIRO, the University of Adelaide, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and Provisor Pty Ltd.

Pretorius said the WIC means “more than a change of address for the AWRI” from its previous premises on the Waite Campus.

“Each of the partners’ functions will be enhanced by a joining of diverse skills, achieving results for our stakeholders that would not be possible working as stand-alone agencies. The establishment of the WIC is a big moment for Australian grape and wine producers.”

Happy housewarming to all from Winetitles.

Seeley International


New Holland



WID 2017