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University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia

By RJ Whitehead , 02-Jan-2017

University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia

Plans for a major expansion of Australia’s biggest teaching winery have been released for the first time.

The University of Adelaide wants to more than double the size of its Hickinbotham Roseworthy wine science laboratory at the Waite campus in the southern suburbs of the South Australian capital. 

The existing winery has been the centrepiece of a wine hub that has about 150 researchers from the university and co-located partners in wine and grape science—about 70% of Australia’s total research capability—since it was built in 1996. About half of the students on winemaking courses are typically from outside of Australia. 

Professor of oenology Vladimir Jiranek said the training and research winery was arguably the best facility of its kind in the world when it opened two decades ago. 

At that time it was servicing 20 students and a six-tonne vintage,” he said. “Now we have close to 100 students using the winery each year and a vintage of about 120 tonnes. The demands on our winery are intense and the opportunities to develop new approaches and technologies around all aspects of winemaking require an expanded and more sophisticated facility.

The University of Adelaide is helping the industry meet future challenges and we need to build a winery to match.” 

The plans, at a cost in the region of A$22m-28m (US$16m-20m), include more than doubling the existing floor space and adding a second level. The new winery would include expanded chemistry labs, separate teaching and research areas and a small distillery and brewery. 

Prof. Jiranek said the university would look for partners such as the co-located Australian Wine Research Institute. 

This is something that we probably needed five years ago but the reality is that it is quite an expensive undertaking,” he said. “If it was built in five years I’d be very happy.” 

He said once the plans had been finalised, detailed drawings would be developed and a fundraising committee formed to raise capital from within the university and externally. 

We’ve worked with an engineer who has been involved in building quite a few wineries and winery extensions in industry so we’ve gone with them to make sure that what we have in mind is achievable,” he said. 

The university won’t be able to fund the whole thing so we’ll be looking for some partners and to the industry for support

This is an important facility where the future industry practitioners are trained so in the interests of industry ensuring they get the best graduates then it would be great if they were able to support the facility.” 

AWRI managing director Dan Johnson supported the winery revamp, which would also benefit the 120 staff at his Waite Campus-based organisation. 

He said an expanded facility would cater for the student demand, create separate spaces to allow teaching and research to be done simultaneously and allow the infrastructure to reflect the quality of the training and research that is done 

The University of Adelaide also recently launched a new wine label for some of the 400 different wines from sparkling whites through to fortified wines and liqueurs it makes. 

Prof. Jiranek said the wine produced at the Waite campus was of a high quality and had been a well-kept secret even within the university community. 

He said the wine would likely be served at university functions and given as gifts. 

So we are very keen for our colleagues across the other campuses of the university to know that this is here and we have the ability to make great wines,” Prof. Jiranek said. 

Why should we be spending money on buying wines from outside when we can showcase these

The label we had used in the past served us very well but it was time to modernise and celebrate the fact that this is a highly successful programme, we intend on being here for the long run and we’ve got big plans for the future.”

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