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Where do little winemakers come from?
Charles Sturt University is a cutting-edge opportunity for the nation's next generation of winemakers - and they get to learn in a genuine, working winery as well.
WHEN IT COMES to picking someone to tell everyone else what to do, well that's why you have winemakers.
And the perfect place for that would have to be in education, where not only are you the winemaker you are also the teacher.
Talk about the double whammy of being told what to do.
Take Andrew Drumm at Charles Sturt University's Wagga Wagga campus in NSW.
Or its campus in Orange.
Because he has a vineyard at both, and a never-ending queue of would-be winemakers lining up just begging to be told what to do.
But of course, as with all good things, nothing is ever quite what it is cracked up to be.
Drumm still has to run his 17ha - 5ha in Wagga and 12ha at 800m in Orange - of vineyards as a commercial enterprise.
And on the occasions his slave labour is actually performing industry work he has to pay them industry rates.
Of course when they are 'in class' they come free and are sent packing from one end of the winery to the other as Drumm orchestrates another vintage and another generation of baby winemakers ready to be unleashed on the world's wineries.
'It is a school but it is also a winery, and we have the nominal capacity to crush up to 300 tonnes - a target we trim to suit market conditions,' Drumm said.
'We also run separate accounts so the university can track our performance,' he said.
'I have to say that has been somewhat more entertaining for the past few years than it has been for a while.
'Our plantings are constantly reviewed - and I have a chainsaw. I would reckon we have reduced our vineyard capacity by 40 per cent on a few years ago but we still have Shiraz, Muscat and Cabernet at Wagga and Chardonnay, Riesling, Cab Sav, Pinot Gris and Merlot at Orange. For now.
'The students who come through here have to do everything, and part of their assessment is each one has to make a batch of their own wine, which is then judged by standard rules and conditions.'
Drumm has been the go-to guy at CSU for a decade, having taken the top job there after working with Kay Brothers in McLaren Vale.
As an occasional lecturer and mostly hands-on instructor, he has his hands full with a fulltime job as winemaker and fairly fulltime job as wine master.
This year the winery is going through a label rebranding to keep it in line with CSU's new look.
'Our label is Charles Sturt and the university's new image will be on the back of our new labels to explain the connection,' Drumm said.
'We are also trialling Aglianico, Dolcetto and Fiano next year and have plans to include Grenache and Mourvedre,' he said.
'If necessary we also source fruit from other regions in NSW, principally Tumbarumba, Hilltops and Gundagai, and make up to 10,000 cases annually.'
Charles Sturt Winery also has two cellar doors - Wagga operates seven days a week; Orange on Fridays and weekends.
The winery is the 'commercial arm' of the university's National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC), which develops a range of research projects in conjunction with the winery.
The research capability of the NWGIC provides a continuum of research from the vine to wine, to sensory profile and consumer perception, covered by:
• Vine Science
1. Grapevine physiology
1. source-sink interactions
2. photosynthesis and water interactions
3. rhizosphere and root functioning
2. Ecophysiology of berry ripening
1. fruit growth and composition
2. relationship of fruit with wine composition
3. Vine disease Management
1. bunch rots
2. trunk diseases
3. soil health
• Wine Science
1. Wine chemistry
2. Process engineering
3. Sensory and consumer science
WINE SCIENCE SCHOOL
As a producer of table, sparkling and fortified wines the Charles Sturt winery is an integral part of the wine science school and is at the forefront of viticulture practices and winemaking techniques.
In 1893 the university vineyard at Wagga Wagga was planted with grapes as part of the experimental farm established following the formation of the NSW Department of Agriculture in 1880. The wine science and viticulture teaching program was established there in 1976.
A professional management team has been running the winery since 1990.
The wine is made at Wagga in a purpose-built winery constructed in 2002 and proceeds from it sale supports the research and education programs.
The gang are clearly no slouches. The winery was this year received a 4½ rating in the James Halliday Wine Companion and since its establishment has had to continually upgrade its trophy case.
The most recent count (since 1977) is 28 trophies, 99 gold medals, 188 silver and more than 500 bronze medals in national wine shows.
Not bad for a revolving roster that would put McDonald's to shame for changing faces.
Contact: Andrew Drumm. Phone: 61 2 6933 2241. Web: www.csu.edu.au/winery.
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