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Behind the Australian wine label is the product of an industry possessing a level of technological expertise unsurpassed in either the New or the Old World. This is largely attributable to the internationally rated Australian Wine Research Institute, as well as two higher-education institutions - the University of Adelaide (Roseworthy Campus) and Charles Sturt University (Wagga Wagga Campus) in New South Wales.

The technological revolution in the Australian wine industry began, in effect, in the mid-1950s, with the introduction of temperature-controlled, stainless-steel fermentation of Riesling and Semillon, and the arrival of the first pressure fermenter. Within 20 years the importance of technical expertise had been recognized, especially as producers realized that if they were to make high-quality wines they had to combat the hot and arid conditions prevailing in many vineyards.

Irrigation - a practice frowned upon in many traditional wine-growing areas of the world - is essential almost everywhere in Australia to enhance the quality of the fruit and maintain high yields. Today all sorts of canopy management techniques are employed while the vines are growing, and there is continuous experimentation with new, cooler hillside sites and clonal selection. Mechanical harvesting at night makes sure the grapes are cool when picked, and temperaturecontrolled procedures throughout the winemaking processes, in which the grape juices and young wines are treated and processed with the utmost scientific care, can today ensure a top-quality end-product.

The impact of technology has been coupled with a remarkable willingness on the part of winemakers to share their knowledge with their peers. Every two years a national technical conference is held which attracts expert contributors from around the world. Local conferences are also held in most wine regions.

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