Wine Science

University of Adelaide scientists lead innovative oenology and viticulture research that extends over the whole of the grape and wine value chain.

Viticulture and oenology students in Waite vineyard

About 70 per cent of Australian wine research happens at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus. Our grape growers and winemakers are innovators and cultural leaders within a sector helping drive the nation’s economy.

We aim to create better wines by 

  • sustainable vineyard management and land stewardship;
  • understanding grape ripening processes;
  • assessing new grape varieties for suitability in our climate;
  • mitigating the impact of climate change and smoke taint;
  • improving winemaking processes;
  • discovering new yeast strains to improve fermentation;
  • profiling wine composition and sensory attributes; and
  • learning about people’s wine preferences.

Professor Vladimir Jiranek

Head of the Department of Wine Science

Research profile

Research strengths

  • Wine science

    Science in a barrel

    Uni of Adelaide Winery - Waite campus

    Our wine science research is aimed at understanding the wine-making process and how it can be manipulated to improve the quality of wines. Our research expertise spans the entire wine production chain, from viticulture to sensory studies.

    We combine expertise in wine chemistry, microbiology and biotechnology to assess the relationships between grapes and wine sensory attributes. 

    Our researchers investigate the sugar:flavor nexus in grape berries during ripening; and analyse challenging compounds arising from grapes, fermentation and ageing.

    We test new and improved yeast and bacterial strains to advance winemaking and other biotechnology processes. We aim to unravel the chemistry behind traditional Aboriginal fermentation processes and uncover new yeast species.


    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus areas
    A/Prof Chris Ford Organic acid metabolism
    A/Prof Paul Grbin Wine microbiology and biotechnology
    A/Prof David Jeffery Analytical chemistry: aroma, flavour and phenolic compounds
    Prof Vladimir Jiranek Wine microbiology and biotechnology
    Dr Richard Muhlack Winemaking and beer technology and process engineering
    Prof Kerry Wilkinson Wine chemistry and smoke taint
  • Sensory and consumer science

    What qualities make a good wine?

    Kerry Wilkinson Renata Ristic sensory lab

    Wine scientists at the University of Adelaide are experts in aroma and flavour chemistry.

    We undertake important research into consumer behaviour and perception of wine quality through interactions between wine and food and how grape quality affects the end product.

    We also explore the impact of climate change and smoke taint on wine composition and quality, and seek new interventions to minimise the negative effects of extreme weather events on grapes and subsequently, wine.

    We investigate volatile compounds and their precursors in grape and wine samples – and their appeal to consumers - such as potent thiols associated with citrus, smoke and coffee aromas in certain wine styles. 

    Our researchers combine wine and forensic science expertise to create methods to tackle wine fraud and authenticate the origin of wines, to ensure the integrity of the global wine industry.

    We also explore new wine styles and grape varieties; and collaborate with industry to provide recommendations on the viability and marketability of potential new products and packaging.  

    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus areas
    A/Prof Sue Bastian Consumer behaviour; wine and food interactions; grape berry and wine quality
    Dr Dimitra Capone Aroma and flavour chemistry
    A/Prof David Jeffery Aroma and flavour chemistry
    Dr Renata Ristic Wine consumer emotions and perception of grape and wine quality
    Prof Kerry Wilkinson Chemical and sensory analysis of volatile and non-volatile components
  • Viticultural science

    Growing our economy

    Viticulture grapevine breeding Waite campus

    Our viticulture research explores the growth and management of grapevines and berries including their physiology, nutrition, water relations, stress tolerance and chemistry.

    Our scientists are pioneering new technologies for assessing vine performance and vineyard management. Our experts in soil science improve our understanding of soil processes and functions, leading to improved methods for soil management and vineyard health.

    We’re also focused on sustainable agriculture. Our horticulturalists and viticulturists assess new grape varieties for suitability for growing in the Australia’s changing climate.


    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus areas
    Prof Timothy Cavagnaro Soil ecology and sustainability
    A/Prof Cassandra Collins Terroir, vineyard management; grapevine reproductive biology
    Dr Roberta De Bei Vineyard physiology, water stress, near infrared applications, carbohydrate metabolism, vine balance and digital/precision technologies for information-driven vineyard management
    A/Prof Chris Ford Organic acid metabolism in grapevines
    Prof Matthew Gilliham Transport and signalling; nutrition and stress tolerance (salinity)
    Dr Vinay Pagay Environmental factors affecting flavour and aroma compounds in winegrapes
    E/Prof Eileen Scott Grapevine pathology
    E/Prof Stephen Tyerman Plant physiology, solute and water transport, signalling
    Prof Kerry Wilkinson Grape and grapevine chemistry; smoke taint

Waite Research Institute

The Waite Research Institute drives innovation to secure a sustainable future for Agriculture - by creating high-quality, nutritious and climate-resilient products. We do this through close partnerships with the agriculture, food and wine sectors.

Waite Research Institute

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