The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) is the government and industry sponsored research operation devoted to the heavy science behind winemaking and viticulture. The main center of operations is in Adelaide and is full of folks in lab coats, goggles and some serious equipment. Much of the research that is done there is beyond the comprehension of folks like me but they often sponsor studies that break through the walls of academia and resonate with the trade and even the average punter. As it often happens, the Institute has found itself back in the news.

AWRI Winery
The AWRI winery in Adelaide is set up for multiple microvinifications in pursuit of the Institute’s research efforts.

A number of years ago, I wrote up the story about how the GinGin clone of Margaret River chardonnay had its origins in California, specifically an old, diseased Wente clone grown at UC Davis. While the evidence was fairly clear, the actual science had not been done to prove the clones were identical. Indeed, the science was not possible at the time my posts were published.

Nevertheless, the origins of the GinGin clone remained as one of the great mysteries in the Australian wine industry and the AWRI devoted considerable efforts towards confirming the connections between the two clones. The Institute recently published a research paper that confirmed a “shared heritage” between the clones by utilizing ground-breaking genome research to identify clonal markings. (Click the link to learn more about the paper.) The new techniques have created considerable excitement among researchers who are already applying clonal marking identifications for pinot noir clones grown in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s been quite exciting to see the mystery slowly unfold and get solved. Thanks have to be given to the many researchers, both in academia and winemaking, but also most notably, the members of the trade who performed their own explorations into chardonnay clones. Now, its time to raise some glasses full of Margaret River chardonnay to say thanks to all the folks who contributed to this story. What’s next?


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