Weincampus Neustadt & DLR Rheinpfalz – Two Strong Partners
The research conducted by professors at the Weincampus Neustadt is closely integrated in the research and development activities of the Dienstleistungszentrum Ländlicher Raum Rheinpfalz (DLR, “Rural Service Center”).
The seven full-time professors from the three universities of applied sciences who teach the program use 50% of their teaching load for joint research projects with the scientists of the DLR Rheinpfalz, whose activities include cutting-edge applied research in viticulture, enology, and phytomedicine. The Weincampus’ range of course offerings benefits from strong institutional integration with the activities of DLR Rheinpfalz, including testing, consulting and training, and the associated transfer of research findings into both teaching and practice.
The aim of viticulture research is to investigate the influence of quality-enhancing cultivation techniques on the material composition of the grape, especially its sugars, acids, aroma precursors, anthocyanins, and phenols. Together, these elements create the reservoir from which the valuable ingredients of wine are formed during the winemaking process. Current research projects investigate genetic and environmental influences on the synthesis of aromatic substances (monoterpenes) and coloring/flavoring substances (flavonoids, stilbenes), as well as their impact on the physiology of the berries/grapes (traits like size, yield, and grape skin firmness). Other areas of focus for our research include the optimization of cultivation systems as well as the adaptation of winegrowing techniques to prepare production systems for climate change, which includes analyzing the increased occurrence of late frost events and heat waves.
Numerous diseases and harmful pests threaten the health of vineyards, endangering grape quality and yield. Research into effective and environmentally friendly methods of pathogen and pest control is therefore a focal point of viticulture plant protection efforts. In addition to this work, diagnostics, consulting and teaching as well as the testing of plant protection methods are also important areas of activity.
Microorganisms play the key role in winemaking, whether in alcoholic fermentation with yeast or in malolactic fermentation with lactic acid bacteria. At the same time, various harmful organisms can negatively affect the constituents of wine at almost all stages of the production process. Students gain theoretical knowledge and practical insights into the most important organisms relevant to winemaking. The detection of microorganisms is another essential focus of both research and teaching.
Oenological research at the Weincampus Neustadt encompasses a variety of topical and practically oriented questions pertaining to winemaking, beginning with grape selection through the process of mashing and crushing to obtain grape must, to the ageing, bottling, and storage of bottled wine. Using state-of-the-art sensory and chemical analysis, the complex relationships between oenological factors and molecular changes in wine are examined. With its network of international research cooperations, the Weincampus Neustadt ranks among the leading institutions in the world in enological research in the fields of innovative wine technologies, aroma analysis, and polyphenol research.
Precision viticulture is a synonym for demand-oriented cultivation of heterogeneous vineyard areas using digital methods. The use of GPS and sensor-assisted techniques are designed to maximize grape quality while at the same time minimizing the impact on the environment. Georeferenced data generated by means of near and remote sensing techniques serve as the basis for GIS-based, zone-specific management plans, which in the future will also be carried out by autonomous machines.
The path towards the digital age of “Viticulture 4.0” will be paved with the transition from analog to digital field card indices, and by employing digital vineyard management systems. Due to climate change and increasingly particular local weather conditions, it is extremely important to be able to react early to unexpected weather events. Microclimate data sensitive to local impacts can be added to weather forecasting systems in order to implement precise winegrowing measures based on evolving local conditions.
Success in the wine industry is increasingly dependent on professional business management and optimized marketing. Instruction in business administration at the Weincampus Neustadt encourages the development of strong entrepreneurial skills. In both the classroom and the workplace, practically oriented issues are addressed, and thanks to our global research network, international perspectives enter into all practical discussions. The three core areas of business administration include strategy, organization, and innovation.
Marketing in the wine industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. Not only have new digital possibilities come to the fore, but new challenges have also arisen, such as how to best present a product and its features. Topics in marketing like these comprise an important area of research at the Weincampus Neustadt.