This series of projects aims to make better use of the incoming energy from the sun to improve wine quality. Cool climate areas in general may benefit from this research, but there could easily be advatanges to their use in warmer climates as well. Rather than focus on man-made materials, we have chosen to work with waste-stream products, such as mussel shells and crushed glass. Finding a constructive use for products that have only limited use elsewhere provides benefits in a number of ways. Use of these materials underneath the vines has already been shown to have significant effects on wine quality, so current research focuses on how the mulches are changing the environment, what these changes do to vine growth, and how these all affect grape and wine composition.
Characterisation of the microclimate effects of having the mulches on the ground is being done by monitoring changes to canopy temperature, soil moisture, reflected ultraviolet, visible and far-red radiations, as well as what’s happening to the soil ecosystem and then ultimately to the fruit and wines. Methodologies for collecting data from these trials involves HPLC, gas chromatograpy-olfactometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.