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Australian wine industry innovators honoured

Primary Industries

Hydraulic vine shears for combatting die-back in vineyards, a non-GMO solution to reduce sulphur dioxide in wines and an artificial intelligence software solution to streamline winery production are among the winners of the 2017 Wine Industry Impact Awards.

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Presented by Wine Industry Suppliers Australia, the winners across eight categories were announced at a gala dinner at the Adelaide Town Hall last night.

WISA Executive Officer Matthew Moate said the national awards were highly regarded by peers in the wine and grape growing sectors with a 70 per cent increase in entries this year.

“The Australian grape and wine industry along the complete supply chain is at the leading edge of innovation with dynamic solutions and products that advance the sector and enhance consumer engagement with our wines and tourism experiences,” he said.

“All entrants presented outstanding qualifications for the award with the judges having a challenging task to short list finalists and select the ultimate winners that are making such a positive impact in the industry,” he said.

Categories included Grape Growing, Winemaking, Packaging, Distribution and Logistics, Engineering, Marketing and Communications, Tourism and Startup.

The Startup category was a new Impact Award in 2017 and was awarded to South Australian software company Ailytic. The Adelaide-based company has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) program to significantly increase production efficiency by optimising machine use. It uses an AI technique called ‘prescriptive analytics’ to account for all the variables that go into mass-producing wines such as grape variety, packaging and finished product inventory.

The program then creates the best possible operation schedule, allowing companies to save considerable time and money.

Ailytic’s list of clients includes world-renown wine companies such as Pernod Ricard, Accolade Wines and Treasury Wine Estates.

Co-founder and CEO James Balzary said the company’s AI program was perfect for the wine industry because it thrived in complex environments.

“Our algorithms work well for things like packaging, bottling and general manufacturing – the wine industry is where we are seeing a lot of appetite and the most uptake,” he said.

“People think of wine as a romantic artisan type of process, and it is, when you are producing small batches or super-premium wine, but the majority of wines we drink are mass manufactured in big complex tank operations. That’s where we come in – the more complex the business, the bigger the benefit.”

Other winners included Maxicut (Grape Growing), Lallemand (Winemaking) and Altvin in conjunction with Wines By Geoff Hardy in the packaging category.

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production.

Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources said Australia’s wine sector was a perfect example of a thriving, value added industry with the majority of the value chain located in South Australia.

“The Wine Industry IMPACT Awards acknowledge and celebrate the many groups along the value chain that are adding capability and competitiveness to our wine producers,” Senator Ruston said.

“The finalists are all outstanding. They are one of the reasons our industry is tracking so well with our wine exports forecast to exceed 800 million litres and $2.5 billion in 2017-18.”

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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