Fulbright scholarship to study Australian-American wine history connections

Friday, 26 July 2019

Dr Julie McIntyre will travel to the University of California to study Australian - American wine history.

Dr Julie McIntyre

Dr Julie McIntyre, an environmental historian with the Centre for 21st Century Humanities has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study connections between America and Australia in the grape and wine sciences since the 1950s.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship foreign exchange scholarship program of the USA, aimed at increasing binational research collaboration, cultural understanding, and the exchange of ideas. Dr McIntyre studies the emergence of the growing, making, selling and drinking of wine in Australia and how these pursuits have shaped regional communities, and a national industry and ethos, in global contexts.

Dr McIntyre will travel to the Shields Library, University of California in Davis for 3 months to trace binational innovations in modernising wine production.

Dr McIntyre’s project is titled ‘Making the Modern Wine Industry through American-Australian scientific exchange, 1955-1977’. Dr McIntyre said her research is focused on the 1955 visit of viticulturist Harold Olmo from Davis to Western Australia and the subsequent binational knowledge exchange and production in viticulture and oenology.

“This project concerns the untold history of the transfer of key people, ideas and technologies between Australia and America in a formative period of both nations’ wine industries, from 1955 to 1977,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to spending time researching at the Shields Library. Its archive contains the world’s largest collection of faculty, professional and private papers on wine science, industry and culture. The Library also has unequalled manuscript collections of individual wine researchers, merchants, and writers, along with the archives of wineries, trade associations, and governmental agencies.  It will be exciting to see what I can unearth,” Dr McIntyre commented.

Dr McIntyre will explore collections that contain evidence of exchange in science for industry between America and Australia since the 1950s.

“Amid these riches, my main focus is on the turning point towards the modern development of wine in Australia that occurred when Harold Olmo, an American scientist visited University of Western Australia for six-months in 1955 as a Fulbright scholar.”

This will be the first exploration by a historian of Olmo’s archive of faculty papers from his Professorship in Viticulture and Enology at Davis from 1931-1977. These records stored in archive boxes at the Shields Library, cover 100 linear feet and include correspondence, research files, slides on grape varieties, grape variety reports by county, and materials relating to his activities in symposiums, conferences, and advisory boards.

Dr McIntyre said these records are a window into the unfolding processes of new ways of selecting vineyard sites and grape varieties, and new manufacturing styles. Changes that occurred in the Australian wine industry from the 1950s to the 1970s laid the foundations for the role that Australian white wine exports played in the 1990s in spurring wine globalisation.

“Olmo and others from UC Davis were integral to the development of grape and wine science for the American and Australian wine industries of the postwar era. It is astonishing, therefore, that the Olmo Papers are barely read and uncatalogued,’ Dr McIntyre observed.

Dr McIntyre will highlight how these binational transfers of skills and expertise were formative for the modern wine industry.

“The processes and results of my research will be shared with UC Davis faculty, students and people from industry in discussions and public presentations – to open out understanding of the histories contained in the inimitable collections at the Shields Library.”

Related news

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.