Examining the wine industry’s adoption of R&D outcomes

An AGWA-funded research project has surveyed more than 1,000 wine industry personnel to identify the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ of adoption of research outcomes by grape growers and winemakers.

The project, titled Adoption of grape and wine R&D outputs. Who, what and why? is led by Megan Hill, Senior Social Research Scientist at Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI).

Due for completion at the end of this month, Ms Hill and the collaborative project team from The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) and DEPI, conducted interviews and surveyed  growers, winemakers, consultants and research and development (R&D) technical officers from 10 wine regions across Australia.

Ms Hill said, “We asked them a stack of questions about what they’ve adopted and why, and where they got their information when making those decisions.”

“To develop some case studies, we used four existing technologies—cross-flow filtration, novel yeasts in wineries, soil moisture monitoring systems and new chemical sprays in vineyards.

“This approach enabled us to focus on the drivers of adoption, and the way in which growers and winemakers seek information on both complex and simple technologies and products.”

The data has now been analysed and will be used to describe market segments for existing innovations, devise adoption strategies, and develop extension guidelines and tools to support the uptake of R&D in the wine sector.

According to Ms Hill, it’s important that R&D providers better understand the wine sector’s key drivers of adoption, as well as the communication mechanisms that will be most effective.

“We know there are many reasons why growers and winemakers do or don’t adopt new R&D. A vineyard or winery is a complex system, especially when you take into account individual goals and business and market strategies.

“One key driver of adoption is where the business stands in terms of size and functionality. We found that growers and winemakers with expanding businesses were more likely to actively seek information and adopt new technologies.

“These people are keen to increase their productivity, and usually have the motivation and resources to achieve this.

“We also found while many grape growers and winemakers ‘intended’ to adopt a technology, actual adoption was strongly influenced by the level of contact and support they had from colleagues.”

The project also looked at where grape growers and winemakers went to seek out information and support.

The answer, Ms Hill said, was “everywhere” – with the first port of call being on “the web.”

“86 per cent of growers and 94 per cent of winemakers said they go online when looking for research or new technologies and product information.

“Other growers and winemakers are key sources of credible, experience-based, unbiased information. We found the wine sector network to be in good shape, and a very strong influence on people’s decision making.

“Growers and winemakers also valued independent technical experts, such as the AWRI, where they could get reliable, trustworthy, non-commercial information.”

A final report will be published on the AGWA website upon completion.

Associate Professor Angela Paladino (University of Melbourne) and Megan Hill (DEPI), presenting project results at the Product Innovation Management Conference in Denver, Colorado in October this year.
Associate Professor Angela Paladino (University of Melbourne) and Megan Hill (DEPI), presenting project results at the Product Innovation Management Conference in Denver, Colorado in October this year.