Wine industry experts evaluate methods to protect the wine industry from bushfire smoke

The Cassegrain smoke taint research team. Image Cassegrain Wines

This week an international consortium of industry and academic experts met at Cassegrain Wines in Port Macquarie to undertake commercial trials to evaluate novel methodologies for removing smoke taint, caused by bushfires, from wine.

The collaborative industry-academic research project commenced in 2020 with support from the Federal Government’s CRC-P grant program in response to the devastating impact that bushfires had on wine regions across Australia during the 2019/2020 growing season.

Several NSW grape and wine producers incurred significant revenue losses after making the decision not to harvest smoke-affected grapes.

Seeing the wide-reaching impact that bushfires had on the local industry, John Cassegrain, a winemaker for many NSW vineyards, was spurred to find solutions that industry could employ to be better informed and better prepared to manage smoke taint in future years.

“Our smoke taint research project, which began in 2020 reached a milestone this week. After optimising remediation strategies at laboratory scale, this week we have undertaken commercial scale remediation trials at our winery – and we are very pleased with the results we are seeing,” Cassegrain Wines managing director John Cassegrain said.

“Wines that before treatment were deemed to be below commercial quality, after treatment are very presentable.

“The research is ongoing but the progress in just a couple of years has been fantastic. The focus now is to fine tune the process of removing smoke taint compounds from wine whilst minimising stripping the wine constituents that impart desirable colour, aroma and flavour to wine.”

Cassegrain Wines assembled an international group of academics, researchers and industry partners from the University of Adelaide, The Australian Wine Research Institute, VAF Memstar and New Zealand Based Ligar, who have worked together for more than two years to understand and overcome the issue of smoke taint, to build the wine industry’s capacity to predict, mitigate and respond to risk associated with vineyard exposure to bushfire smoke.


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