University launches Pinot noir research

The University of Auckland's Faculty of Science has received a donation from Liquorland Limited to fund research into New Zealand viticulture and winemaking. The grant will be used by the Wine Science programme for investigation into the qualities of New Zealand Pinot noir wines.

Pinot noir wines have become more popular over the past three years, and have become a major red wine for the New Zealand industry. But the Pinot noir variety is notoriously difficult to grow and use. Wine Science researchers from the University will look to characterise the wine and its qualities; enabling wineries to better understand what makes for superior wines and what is distinctive about each growing region within New Zealand.

"Pinot noir is an important grape for the New Zealand wine industry," says Dr Paul Kilmartin, Director of the University's Wine Science programme. "The purpose of our Wine Science programme is to investigate how New Zealand can stay at the forefront of the global wine industry, and our research reflects this. We were already planning research in this area, but with Liquorland's help we can now move ahead much more rapidly."

"We have been running our Wine Science course since 2003, and it is growing from strength to strength," he says. "The appointment of Randy Weaver as Head Winemaker has provided our students with invaluable insight into the winemaking process, and the addition of the Fossil Bay vineyard has added to their practical expertise. Randy will work closely with students funded through the Liquorland gift to profile the aromas, mouthfeel and colour of wines vinified from Pinot noir grapes sourced from around the country, to provide a basis for future research into viticultural and winemaking effects on Pinot noir wine quality."

The University of Auckland's postgraduate Wine Science programme focuses on understanding the wine making process through teaching and research, and aims to build New Zealand's wine making reputation. Students in the course take part in all aspects of wine making, including grape production at Fossil Bay, the University's leased vineyard on Waiheke Island. Ongoing research includes analysis of grape varieties, wine making processes and reactions, and characterisation of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, funded by the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST).

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