The wine industry in South Africa is over three centuries old and over the last decade has reemerged as a significant competitor in world wine markets. The Institute for Wine Biotechnology (IWBT) was established in partnership with the Department of Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University to foster basic fundamental research in the wine sciences leading to applications in the broader wine and grapevine industries. This review focuses on the different research programmes of the Institute (grapevine, yeast and bacteria biotechnology programmes, and chemical-analytical research), commercialisation activities (SunBio) and new initiatives to integrate the various research disciplines. An important focus of future research is the Wine Science Research Niche Area programme, which connects the different research thrusts of the IWBT and of several research partners in viticulture, oenology, food science and chemistry. This 'Functional Wine-omics' programme uses a systems biology approach to wine-related organisms. The data generated within the programme will be integrated with other data sets from viticulture, oenology, analytical chemistry and the sensory sciences through chemometrics and other statistical tools. The aim of the programme is to model aspects of the wine making process, from the vineyard to the finished product.
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