Department of Viticulture and Oenology
This environment is unique as it is the only South African university where postgraduate studies in viticulture and oenology, and in grapevine and wine biotechnology, are undertaken.
Research mainly focuses on grapevine physiology, ecophysiology of berry ripening and precision viticulture, including remote sensing. The concept of terroir is as well considered as an integrated approach related to grape quality in relation with the dedicated style of wine. Table grape cultivars are studied as it is an important part of the South African viticulture production. The improvement of grapevine material through somatic embryogenesis and subsequent genetic transformation, or with the aim of virus elimination, forms a substantial, additional focus.
Research is aimed at studying the influence of a variety of winemaking processes, amongst others reductive treatments of white juice and controlled oxygen additions. The influence of wine yeasts and lactic acid bacteria on wine aroma and the interaction between the organisms are also being studied. Phenolic composition of grapes and how they are reflected in the corresponding wines are also investigated. Ageing of wine are being studied and evaluated with reference to the chemical profile of the wine. All research strives to contextualise the research topics regarding the influence on wine composition, style and quality.
grapevine and wine biotechnology
South African Grape and Wine Research Institute operates across faculties and accepts students from a variety of relevant, academic backgrounds. The research is geared towards generating new knowledge on grapevine, wine yeast and bacteria, as well as the genetic improvement of these wine-associated organisms. The inhibition of wine spoilage causing microorganisms by natural antimicrobial agents is a further target. Modern molecular approaches, based specifically on integrated high-throughput omics technologies and advanced analytical tools such as infrared spectroscopy, HPLC, and GC-MS, are typically used in multi-disciplinary research projects that involve teams of students and researchers.
Our research aims to ensure sustainable, environmentally friendly and cost-effective production of high quality grapes and wine.