Wine sensory researchers from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine are collaborators on a project to highlight the appeal of Australian wine regions to the international market.

Funded through the International Wine Tourism Competitive Grant Scheme, administered by Wine Australia, the $545,000 Riverland on the verge project will involve international market research and development of virtual reality (VR) content to give international visitors virtual tours of Riverland wine attractions from local wine centres.

Dr Sue Bastian, Associate Professor in Oenology and Sensory Studies here at Waite said the University of Adelaide research will be aiming to understand what important factors drive tourists to visit international wine regions and buy international wine.

“We will be investigating USA and Chinese consumers, two very important but culturally diverse markets for Australia,” Sue said.

Along with the University of Adelaide, project partners include The Riverland Wine region and 57 Films.

The project will use innovative digital technologies such as virtual reality (VR) to not only conduct the research, which in itself is new territory, but engage gate keepers, such as those agencies who attend tourism expos and international wine expos to drive these individuals to promote international visits or wine sales.

“We believe that technology is the way forward, whether it be on the farm or in the market place and this is a great opportunity to use technology to showcase the beauty of the region and the wines we can produce,” said Chris Byrne, executive chair of Riverland Wine.

Sue is enthusiastic about the opportunity to use digital technologies to help understand and enhance the sensory experience of wine tourism.

“Ultimately, we will help develop digital VR and 2D content for wine consumers who want to learn more about the region and potentially purchase wine remotely (maybe because they can’t travel), or maybe entice them to visit. Back home in the Riverland this content will be used in specific locations to treat the tourists with limited time and enable them to explore the whole region, enhancing their satisfaction, lifting the image and increasing awareness and sales”.

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