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Digital Terroirs for the Hunter Wine Country Private Irrigation District


Terroir is a commonly used concept in France and other European countries for the designation of quality wines. This concept has not been widely developed or accepted in Australia. The work will attempt to define terroirs numerically for the lower Hunter valley, based on soil, geological and terrain data as well as information on grape and wine quality.


Professor Alex McBratney.

Research location

Sydney Institute of Agriculture

Program type



The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that location.
This concept has not been widely developed or adopted in the Australian wine industry. The lower Hunter valley is small wine-growing area some two hours north of Sydney which produces prime wines and therefore the concept of terroir may attractive as a value-adding proposition.
A database of more than 1000 soil profiles comprising soil data and NIR/MIR soil spectra have already been collected for the area. Additionally there is a spatial information system comprising landuse and terrain data. The project would seek to gather data on grape yield and quality and wine quality using standard criteria as well as NIR/MIR spectra. These two data sets will be fused to produce initial digital terroir definitions and a map for the area comprising the Hunter Wine Country Private Irrigation District.

Additional information

Additional Supervisor, Professor Budiman Minasny 
A candidate with strong background in viticulture, œnology or soil science or related subjects with a penchant for quantitative approaches. Experience in GIS will be beneficial.

HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1220

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