Grape and wine biotechnology: Challenges, opportunities and potential benefits

Isak S. Pretorius*, Peter B. Høj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


The image of wine as a harmonious blend of nature, art and science invites tension between tradition and innovation, and no tension in the business of making wine is greater than that brought into play by the potential afforded by 21st century grape and wine biotechnology. The challenge is to realise the potential of technological innovation without stripping the ancient art of grapegrowing and winemaking of its charm, mysticism and romanticism. Equally challenging is the multitude of complex and interconnected agronomic, business, regulatory and social obstacles currently blocking commercial availability of transgenic grapes, wine yeast and malolactic bacterial starter strains. While the need to assess rigorously the potential negative impacts of new technologies is self-evident, over the long term, failure to overcome these hurdles will disadvantage the international wine sector and consumers alike. This contention is illustrated with reference to recent examples of genetically improved grapevine, yeast and bacterial prototypes showing potential for enhanced, cost-effective production of wine with minimised resource inputs, improved quality and low environmental impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-108
Number of pages26
JournalAustralian Journal of Grape and Wine Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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