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Latest developments and potential uses of digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) to assess smoke contamination in grapevines, berries and taint in wines.

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While starting a new 2021-22 grape-growing season in Australia, potential climatic anomalies such as bushfires are in the consciousness of many grape growers and winemakers. Increasing ambient temperatures has resulted in associated climatic anomalies, such as extreme wildfires in Australia, California, Siberia, Greece and Turkey as forecasted and reviewed by the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPPC-AR6). The latest IPCC report also claims a “virtually certain” increase in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves due to greenhouse emissions from burning fossil fuels. Many of these wildfires or bushfires occur in Mediterranean countries that cultivate grapes for winemaking. Recent review papers on smoke taint in wines related to mitigation techniques have assessed the state of the art research efforts related to smoke taint and developed methods for mitigation and incorporating some of the latest digital technologies for its assessment. Both reviews agreed that the best practices to remediate smoke taint in wine are activated carbon fining and reverse osmosis treatments. This article focuses on the latest advances to monitor the levels of smoke contamination in grapevines and grapes and smoke taint in wines using novel digital and non-invasive technologies. Much of these latest efforts are the product of research from the Digital Agriculture, Food and Wine group from The University of Melbourne. The latest research has produced tools, and artificial intelligence (AI) models with high accuracy (Table 1) to be deployed in near-real-time using affordable technologies either in the field between veraison to harvest and in the winery that can be accessible to winegrowers and winemakers.
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Understanding the effects of smoke taint on fruit and wine
  • K Wilkinson
  • R Ristic
Wilkinson, K. and Ristic, R. (2019) Understanding the effects of smoke taint on fruit and wine. Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker 660:42-44.