Growing Futures

Unique yeasts for winemaking

Unique yeasts for winemaking

New yeasts used in the fermenting process produce novel wine flavours

New Zealand wines are known for their high quality and unique flavours. The country exports $1.2 billion of wine each year, to premium markets such as Australia, the UK and the USA.

Providing winemakers with tools to tailor flavour and maintain quality is key in meeting industry targets and retaining New Zealand’s competitive position on the marketplace. The unique environment, or terroir, of New Zealand vineyards provides one way for winemakers to produce the distinctive flavours that characterise New Zealand wines.

Unique yeasts for quality

The yeasts used in the fermenting of wine grapes are known to contribute to the flavour of the finished wine. The global wine yeast market is worth $50 million, and new products that afford winemakers the ability to tailor wine characteristics are key to its growth.

Characterising the microbiological populations found in New Zealand vineyards identified stains of yeasts that influence the characteristics of wine. In particular, a strain of Pichia kluyverii was found to change the volatiles produced in Sauvignon blanc and added complexity and palate weight, characteristics associated with high quality wine.

Launch of a global product

In 2009, Chr. Hansen, a global ingredient company, began working with New Zealand scientists and winemakers to develop a manufacturing process for the native P. kluyverii yeast. In June 2011, the company launched Viniflora® Frootzen™, the first commercial P. kluyverii yeast product for use in the wine industry.

Frootzen™ is now used by winemakers in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, USA, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, UK, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, countries that together produce more than 70% of the world’s wine.

The research is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, Plant & Food Research, The University of Auckland and New Zealand Winegrowers, with support from the New Zealand wine industry.

Created: September 2014

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