Paul Grbin

Associate Professor Paul Grbin

Head Winemaker

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Paul Grbin is the joint head of the Wine Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology Group within the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine.

The research conducted within this group is principally funded through Wine Australia and the Australian Research Council (ARC) with strong support from the Faculty of Sciences and the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

The group is devoted to new grape and wine microbiology and biotechnology initiatives to bring long-term benefits to the Australia wine industry. It is located in the Wine Innovation Cluster (WIC) situated on the Waite campus. This state-of-the-art facility brings together all partners on the Waite campus that are devoted to research for the Australian wine industry. The partners include AWRI, CSIRO and SARDI . The critical mass of personnel coupled with research infrastructure is unique in Australia and allows for rapid targeted viticulture and oenology research to address industry needs.

Areas of Research Interest

Developing a fundamental understanding of the microbiological treatment of winery wastewater 

Most wineries (>1000 tonnes) use biological treatement to remove organic compounds from wasterwater at a significant cost (∼$30/tonne crushed). Biological treatment uses microogranisms in a controlled process to metabolise the organic substrates, either in the presence or absence of oxygen (aerobic vs anaerobic processin) with the aim of producing high quality effluent from winery wastewater (WWW).  WWW is very dyamic due to the dramatic seasonal flucuations in composition and volume, and consequently a unique approach to the management of these systems is required to optimise their performance. We have identified 3 distinct periods in WWW treatment that have unique micrcobiological and operational problems that need to be address namely; start up pre-vintage, peak vitnage flow and quiesent (post vintage). All have unique treatment challenges. This project aims to increase efficient and cost effectiveness of biological treatment of WWW by enhancing and improving the microbiological performance of treatement systems at these key stages of the annual treatment cycle.  A multidisciplinary approach is being undertaken to correlate the true microbiology, process operations and WWW chemistry.

Distinctive wines through an improved understanding of uninoculated fermentations

Excellent winemaking outcomes and commercial success can occur for wines produced via uninoculated (indigenous) fermentations.  However, only limited research has been undertaken regarding the nature and contribution of the microbial populations involved and what characterises the reported benefits.  A number of key questions remain, in particular what is the nature, diversity and dynamics of these populations and how do they vary from variety-to-variety and year-to-year?  Critically there is a dearth of information related to the contribution of these populations to wine composition as compared to fermentations inoculated with commercial yeasts.  Empirical observations suggest that there is an enhancement of wine mouthfeel, as well as differences in flavour/aroma compounds and ethanol yield; however, there are few scientific studies to confirm this.  Questions also exist around ferment reliability, thus the feasibility and desirability of controlled inoculations of selected indigenous strains warrants investigation, whereby some of the perceived benefits of uninoculated fermentations may become available in a reliable manner. The objectives of this project are to undertake a comprehensive analysis of uninoculated fermentations and will seek to achieve these by investigating uninoculated fermentations to by defining the nature and diversity of yeast and bacterial populations, characterise the dynamics during fermentation, determine the consistency in the nature and dynamics from variety-to-variety and year-to-year, comprehensively determine the contribution of these populations to wine composition as compared to fermentations inoculated with commercial Saccharomyces yeasts.

 Growth and physiology of Dekkera/Brettanomyces yeast and the production of flavour impact compounds in wine

Molecular and biochemical identification of a phenolic acid decarboxylase from Dekkera/Brettanomyces species has been the principle goal. Screening of Dekkera/Brettanomyces yeast for mousy off-flavour N-heterocycles and detailed investigation of the biochemical pathway of mousy off-flavour production has been undertaken.

Use of innovative, Adaptive Evolution strategies to develop superior bacteria for ready application in the wine and related industries

Evaluating the applicability of Directed Evolution to the optimisation of industrial bacterial strains for wine production.

The enzymatic activities of wine lactic acid bacteria

Previous work in our laboratory identified a number of enzymes of oenological significance from wine strains of lactic acid bacteria. Biochemical characterisation of the esterase activities of wine lactic acid bacteria was carried out. Molecular characterization and expression studies of 3 putative LAB esterase are currently ongoing.

Collaborators: AWRI, CSIRO, Laffort Oenologie, Lallemand Australia, Yalumba WIne Company, JJC Engineering, Cassella Family Wines, Pernod Richard Winemakers, TWG

Current projects funded through Wine Australia and the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Innovative Wine Technology

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 Co-Supervisor Development of Process Simulation Models for Objective Wine Quality Parameter during Fermentation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Patrick Charles Setford
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Population genetics and diversity of the species Brettanomyces bruxellensis. A focus on sulphite tolerance Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Ms Marta Valentinova Avramova
    2014 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Managing Ethanol and Sensory Compounds by Non-Saccharomyces Yeasts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Ana Hranilovic
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Identity and Physiology of Glycogen Accumulating Organisms in Winery Wastewater Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Cristobal Andres Onetto Carvallo
    2013 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Use of Directed Evolution to Generate Multiple-stress Tolerant Oenococcus oeni for Enhanced Malolactic Fermentation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jiao Jiang
    2012 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Characterisation of lees and Novel uses for Yeast Lees to Create New Wine Styles Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Yuanyuan Wang
    2010 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Investigation and Characterisation of Highly Nitrogen Efficient Wine Yeast Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jin Zhang
    2009 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Enhanced winemaking efficiency through foolproof malolactic fermentation: Evolution of superior lactic acid bacteria Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Alice Livingston Betteridge
    2007 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Molecular and Biochemical Characterisation of Esterases from Oenococcus oeni and Their Potential For Application In Wine. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Krista Sumby
    2004 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Physiological, Biochemical and Molecular Characterisation of Hydroxycinnamic Acid Catabolism by Dekkera and Brettanomyces Yeasts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Miss Victoria Harris
    2002 - 2007 Co-Supervisor Biochemical and Molecular Characterisation of Oenologically Important Enzymes Identified in Lactic Acid Bacteria Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Angela Matthews
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  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2016 - ongoing Board Member The Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference Australia
    2016 - 2018 Member Australian Society of Viticulture & Oenology Australia
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2016 - 2019 Founder University of Adelaide Alumni Council University of Adelaide Australia
  • Position: Head Winemaker
  • Phone: 83137302
  • Email: paul.grbin@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 7415
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building:
  • Room: 1 07
  • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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