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Research Themes

The following are some of the key research projects currently undertaken in the Centre for Viticulture and Oenology.

Research Themes

The following are some of the key research projects currently undertaken in the Centre for Viticulture and Oenology.

Composition of grapes
Understanding the factors that control grape composition, ensuring high-quality wines which meet customer expectations in flavour and style.
Grape growing
Viticulture trials and the provision of guidelines to commercial growers in the physiological response of vines to factors such as crop load, leaf area and rootstock.
Measurements of wine sensory parameters linked to environment and viticulture practices, including proteins, grape and wine phenolics, and volatile aroma compounds.
Sensory evaluation
Human sensory evaluation of wine qualities.
Vineyard practice
Research into the interactions - both positive and negative - between grapevines and the wider environment.
Wine consumers and wine tourism
Consumer behaviour regarding purchasing and consumption.

Composition of grapes

Grape composition research applies modern biochemical and molecular methodologies to understand the underlying issues in the industry and complements traditional chemical and plant physiological approaches for improving wine quality.
Examples of research include isolating and characterising the grape genes involved in the formation of specific aroma compounds and an evaluation of the influence of developmental and environmental factors on gene activity.
Research is also underway in developing new methods to study grape development, such as the use of transient transformation technologies and grape tissue culture. 
For more information on grape composition research, please contact Brian Jordan.

Grape growing

Smart production of grapes and wine requires an understanding of the physiology of the grapevine, other vineyard plants, and the yeasts and bacteria that make wine.
The aim of grape growing research is to understand how the combined influence of soil and climate affect vine growth, berry ripening and grape composition.
This could involve evaluating the vine’s reaction to the environment, entailing detailed microclimate and plant measurements, as well as an investigation into enzyme activation in the formation of compounds.
For further information on this research strand, please contact Glen Creasy.
Another research focus is the development of tools such as infrared spectroscopy and GIS for rapid and affordable mapping of soil variability to understand the influence this variability has on vine physiology, thereby informing management practices.
For more information on research vineyard soils, please contact Peter Almond.


Oenology has its fundamental basis in chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology, but is strongly linked to observations made through tasting and formal sensory evaluation.
The research focus is on developing an understanding of the compounds which are important for processing or in the finished product. 
Specific areas of current research include the factors which affect protein stability in white wines, the nature of wine tannins, and the relationship between chemical composition and sensory characteristics of New Zealand Pinot noir.
For more information on oenology research, please contact Roland Harrison.

Sensory evaluation

Appreciation and judgment of wine depends on the quantity and quality of a wine’s flavour and aroma components, and the experience and background of the person evaluating the product.
Research in sensory evaluation involves investigating wine evaluation behaviour from a psychological perspective. The aim is to understand how humans perceive the complex flavour and aroma that determine wine quality.
The work involves the use of innovative methodologies that increase the validity of sensory evaluation studies. Where possible, flavour perception is correlated with a quantitative assessment of chemical compounds of interest.
For more information on sensory evaluation research, in the first instance, please contact Roland Harrison

Vineyard practice

Vineyard practice research at Lincoln University aims at improving ecosystem services, such as the biological control of pests and disease using ecological engineering.
This includes investigating the use of appropriate native and non-native flowering plants to provide ‘resource subsidies’ in the form of pollen, nectar, shelter and alternative prey, such as the use of buckwheat (Fagopyrum Esculentum) to control leaf roller pests.
Additional research includes the control of botryitis infection using organic mulches comprising aerobically and anaerobically composted marc, waste paper, grass clippings and mulched buckwheat plants. 
The Centre is involved in the ‘Greening Waipara’ programme, which aims to incorporate such ecological engineering practices into vineyards across the Waipara winegrowing region.
For further information about research on vineyard ecology, please contact Steve Wratten.

Wine consumers and wine tourism

Wine consumer research is concerned with the path from the grape grower to the winery, wholesaler, retailer, and finally to the customer. 
Current topics of interest include the nature of information sharing along the supply chain, the types and qualities of the relationships between supply chain members, the nature and expression of wine involvement among consumers, the influence of country of origin on wine purchasing, and the impact of taste ratings on the sale of wines.
For more information about research on consumer practices, please contact Sharon Forbes.
Many winery managers view the option of providing visitor facilities at the winery cellar door, including tasting rooms, restaurants and other facilities, as an important avenue for increasing sales, brand recognition and brand loyalty for their wine.
Wine tourism research brings a social science perspective to the subject of the winery cellar door experience. Incorporating insights from the disciplines of sociology, tourism studies and marketing, the aim is to develop an understanding of the expectations and perceptions of the wine tourism experience from the perspective of visitors, potential visitors, and service providers – including winery managers and cellar door staff.
For more information about wine tourism research, please contact Joanna Fountain.

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