Rob will be speaking in Session 5. Fresh Science A. Click here to see more.
Recent research has focussed on the application of quantitative spatial analysis to better understand regional terroir. This work has moved away from heuristics and ‘expert’ opinion, instead using a data-driven approach to identify subregional differences; that is, ‘subregions’ are distinguished using quantifiable metrics rather than presumptions, vested interests, history or the whims of wine writers and marketers.
In a recent NZ study, we collected selected metrics on the performance of 600-1100 vineyard blocks over six seasons from grapegrowers and winemakers in the Marlborough region. By georeferencing these data, we were able to use them to underpin interpolated maps of grape yield and harvest date and identify clear subregional differences. All the data that was contributed to this work was used on a confidential basis and the resulting whole-of-region maps do not allow attribution back to individual blocks or properties. They do, however, provide a platform for understanding the Marlborough terroir, which may be enhanced through incorporation of biophysical data (soils, climate) and wine chemical and quantitative sensory analysis.
The suggestion that a similar approach be followed in current Australian studies of terroir and subregionalisation – which have, to date, focussed on the biophysical and wine data alone – has been met with an anecdotal, but otherwise firm ‘you can’t do that!’ The obvious question is ‘why not?’ One option might be to use the various vintage surveys that are currently conducted, along with Wine Australia’s national vineyard scan, as a means of facilitating this.
Bledisloe Cup anyone?
Dr Rob Bramley is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO, based at Waite Campus, Adelaide, where he is also the CSIRO Site Leader. A Soil Scientist by training, he has been active in Precision Agriculture (PA) research since the mid-1990s. While particularly recognised for pioneering the development of Precision Viticulture, his broader expertise is reflected by leadership and engagement in major PA projects across the wine, grains and sugar sectors, in Australia and overseas. His recent viticultural research has focussed particularly on using the tools of Precision Viticulture to assist in better understanding wine terroir. Dr Bramley was made a life member of SPAA (Society of Precision Agriculture Australia) in 2018 and was the inaugural winner of two of the ASVO’s (Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology) awards for publication excellence – ‘Winemaking paper of the year’ (2012) and the ‘Dr Peter May award’ (2018).