Monitoring Seasonal Changes in Winery-Resident Microbiota

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 19;8(6):e66437. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066437. Print 2013.


During the transformation of grapes to wine, wine fermentations are exposed to a large area of specialized equipment surfaces within wineries, which may serve as important reservoirs for two-way transfer of microbes between fermentations. However, the role of winery environments in shaping the microbiota of wine fermentations and vectoring wine spoilage organisms is poorly understood at the systems level. Microbial communities inhabiting all major equipment and surfaces in a pilot-scale winery were surveyed over the course of a single harvest to track the appearance of equipment microbiota before, during, and after grape harvest. Results demonstrate that under normal cleaning conditions winery surfaces harbor seasonally fluctuating populations of bacteria and fungi. Surface microbial communities were dependent on the production context at each site, shaped by technological practices, processing stage, and season. During harvest, grape- and fermentation-associated organisms populated most winery surfaces, acting as potential reservoirs for microbial transfer between fermentations. These surfaces harbored large populations of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and other yeasts prior to harvest, potentially serving as an important vector of these yeasts in wine fermentations. However, the majority of the surface communities before and after harvest comprised organisms with no known link to wine fermentations and a near-absence of spoilage-related organisms, suggesting that winery surfaces do not overtly vector wine spoilage microbes under normal operating conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Equipment and Supplies / microbiology*
  • Fermentation
  • Food Handling / instrumentation*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Seasons
  • Vitis / microbiology
  • Wine / microbiology

Grant support

NAB was supported by a Wine Spectator Scholarship, the Brian Williams Scholarship Fund (American Society of Brewing Chemists Foundation), a 2012–2013 American Wine Society Educational Foundation Scholarship, and the 2012–2013 Dannon Probiotics Fellow Program (The Dannon Company, Inc.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.