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sector_ico_Agrifood_trans Agrifood

A metagenomic survey of yeast populations in two Okanagan wineries

  • Project Leaders: Vivien Measday, Matt Dumayne, Tim Martiniuk
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $127500
  • Program/Competition: User Partnership Program
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2015
  • Status: Closed

Major wine regions worldwide have demonstrated that product differentiation by terroir enhances the marketability and perceived value of their wines. Okanagan wineries Okanagan Crush Pad (OCP) and Stoneboat Vineyards (SBV) make high quality wines using spontaneous fermentation by yeast present in their vineyards and wineries. Spontaneous fermentation is characterized by a diverse succession of indigenous yeast species and strains that varies between regions and even between adjacent vineyards, and can produce more organoleptically complex wines with greater regional character, increasing the wine’s market value. This project was the first Canadian study to genetically characterize yeast strains in both vineyards and wineries, and found many unique yeast strains at the 2 wineries, which have the potential to become future commercial strains. Identification of genetically distinct and possibly indigenous yeast strains also validates the value of the spontaneous fermentation method and enhances the authenticity of wines produced by these methods, increasing their market value. This project serves as a foundation for future applied research on BC wine yeast populations and has amplified industry interest in this area of research.