The Bragato Research Institute (BRI) team are gearing up for their third vintage at the Marlborough-based Bragato Research Winery. Preparations involve designing trials and reserving tank space for vineyards, wineries, and suppliers looking to test new products or processes.

Bragato Research Winery Manager Dr. Tanya Rutan is the Institute’s lead winemaker. Tanya has a PhD in Wine Science, and her experience is grounded in her time spent working in vineyards, wineries, and research organisations.

“I’m looking forward to working with new and familiar clients this upcoming harvest. As a passionate winemaker and scientist, one of the best parts of my job is bringing industry innovation and wine science research together.

“Last vintage, we were delighted to reach full capacity in the Bragato Research Winery – running 32 simultaneous trials using 186 ferments. We have since invested in more fermentation tanks and we’re expanding our team to keep up with wine research demand,” said Dr. Rutan.

Taking samples for a trial.

The winery custom fermentation tanks can hold up to 200 litres and be used for either a single fermentation or have four smaller (17-litre) tanks inserted to house four individual fermentations, all controlled under the same conditions.

The Bragato Research Winery facilities and expertise makes it possible for industry and researchers to take viticultural trials through to finished wines under tightly managed experimental conditions.

Wine research supports industry to meet changing consumer preferences and remain competitive. Last year, BRI worked with its clients to look at new product development, vegan ingredients, fermentation nutrition, and sulfur alternatives.

Increased future productivity is another focus of the Institute, with the team running client trials to test alternative winemaking practices, sustainable viticulture pest management, and technology and winemaking inputs that achieve greater yield and quality.

Dr Rutan explained that when designing a trial, she works closely with the client, “to ensure we get the necessary outcomes to answer their research questions.

“Our expertise includes trialling winemaking processes, new products, sustainable practices, fermentation ingredients, and testing equipment and technologies ahead of industry investment.

“Every trial we run is bespoke and all outputs belong to our clients. We tailor research to suit wineries of all sizes and can run trials with relatively small amount of fruit or juice.

“When the research is complete, our team is on hand to interpret results and assist with the real-world application of findings.

“We also offer in-house bottling and independent wine sensory evaluation. Sensory services usually include quality assessment, difference test assessment, descriptive analysis, and preference studies.

“Rounding out your research trial with un-biased sensory panel tests is useful for determining whether a certain external influence is discernible in the finished wine taste,” said Dr. Rutan.

The BRI team are available now to talk through what you’re looking to investigate and co-design trials that will get the best research outcomes for your budget.