June 2018
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

Morning fog over vineyards in the Salinas Valley Highlands near Monterey

The NGRA Mid-Year Board Meeting took place on June 22 in Monterey, CA, following the national conference of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), which took place June 18-21. Both events were well-attended, super-informative and included a terrific mix of returning and new faces. But the headline, for me, was the three new board directors inducted at our board meeting!
In This Issue
These new board appointees represent brand-new members of NGRA. Welcome to:
  • Jessica Youngblood, Youngblood Vineyard, Ray, MI - Midwest Regional Representative
    Youngblood Vineyard is the largest commercial vineyard in Eastern Michigan, growing six varieties of cold-hardy wine grapes whose first commercial harvest is expected this year. Jessica is very active in the Michigan wine industry, serving as a board member on the Michigan Wine Collaborative and a founding member of the Great Lakes Sustainable Wine Alliance. Youngblood Vineyard is also a partner and approved practicum site for the Viticulture & Enology Science & Technology Alliance (VESTA) in cooperation with Michigan State University. 
  • Andy Timmons, Lost Draw Vineyards & Cellars, Texas Wine Company, Brownfield, TX - Native/Hybrid Species Commodity Sector Representative
    A crop scientist by training, Andy is one of the biggest growers in the Lone Star State. He and his family farm 100 miles of land in the High Plains AVA near Lubbock, 350 acres of which are winegrapes. He also established a custom crush facility to help serve the production needs of the growing industry in Texas. Andy believes firmly in the Texas wine industry, has served (as has his brother, Dusty) as Board President of the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association.
  • Melissa Hansen, Washington State Wine Commission - At-Large Representative
    Melissa is the first research program manager for Washington State Wine, working to advance the state's vision: to establish Washington as a recognized leader in viticulture and enology research. Under her direction, Washington has awarded more than $1 million in research grants each of the last two years, and instituted education and outreach seminars to inform the industry of research outcomes. Professionally, Melissa has more than 30 years' experience working for grape and tree fruit growers, including the California Table Grape Commission.
In addition to these new appointees, the NGRA board is newly joined by Lodi Winegrape Commission's Grower Communications & Sustainable Winegrowing Director Stephanie Bolton , who runs a robust grower communications and education program in her region. Lodi is not new to NGRA, but Stephanie succeeds Wendy Brannen as the commission's delegate, serving as an At-Large Representative on our board.
Sadly, though, our June 22 board meeting was the last for long-time board director Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers. Nat retired this week after 18 years of service. He will be missed!
We're thrilled to have the addition of new voices and regions to our national conversation. Check out the complete list of NGRA board members.

Donnell Brown

This month, both the House and Senate passed their versions of Farm Bill 2018. Regarding Title VII for Research, which authorizes the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), the Senate's version is preferable. Here's why: The House bill continues annual funding of SCRI at $80 million, but retains the citrus carve-out for citrus greening, leaving only $55 million for all specialty crop research. The Senate bill also fully funds SCRI at $80 million per year, but provides an additional $25 million for citrus through a trade trust fund, funded through customs user-fees. (The trust fund structure is consistent with the citrus industry's original 2014 proposal.) Together, SCRI and the citrus trade fund authorize research funding of $105 million per year, restoring SCRI to $80 million for all specialty crop research through 2023. A  conference committee between the House and Senate will be formed, where the two bills will be reconciled before going to the President for his signature.  The 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018.

Following the retirement of the Dr. Maureen Whalen in May, Dr. Jack Okamuro has been named Acting Deputy Administrator - Crop Production and Protection at USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Jack remains National Program Leader for the agency's National Program 301: Plant Genetic Resources, Genomics and Genetic Improvement Strategic Vision.

The 30-year-old Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council will be renamed the Michigan Craft Beverage Council (MCBC), focusing not just on wine but on beer, hard cider and spirits. It is hoped that, by funding research and marketing programs for barley and hops, these sectors will do for Michigan beer what wine grapes have done for the state's wine industry, whose economic impact stands at $5.4 billion. (By comparison, beer's impact currently totals $600 million.) Funding will continue to be augmented by Michigan's liquor control commission fees from producers. At least half the MCBC budget will be used to conduct research projects; other projects will include marketing initiatives, such as festivals. However, the shift to spanning  wine, beer, hard cider and spirits will result in a reduction from three full-time staff to one and a half, said Executive Director Karel Bush. Effective October 1, the Michigan Craft Beverage Council will be housed in the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development with Ms. Bush reporting to Peter Anastor, Director of the Agricultural Development Division. Read the full story here.

Extension specialists and others who have been and are collecting data that may be of practical use to the grape and wine industries across the U.S. are encouraged to submit articles to Catalyst: Discovery into Practice. A journal published by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), it focuses on extending fundamental discoveries in the scientific disciplines to sustain and advance winemaking and grapegrowing. Catalyst was first published in February 2017 and is a companion journal to the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, also published by ASEV. ASEV welcomes submissions to Catalyst via its online submission site, Publishing in Catalyst is an excellent opportunity to extend research results to colleagues and make a significant impact in the industry.

At last week's ASEV national conference, three of the grape industries' most respected scientists were honored:
  • Dr. Terry Acree, Cornell University - 2018 Merit Award, ASEV's highest honor
    Chemosensory professor in Cornell's food science department and Flavornet co-founder, Dr. Acree is a leading researcher on aroma and flavor perception. As reflected in his presentation at the conference, "From Methyl Anthranylate to Mercaptohexanol: Measuring Wine Qualia," his work primarily focuses on food composition and its relationship to the chemosensory perception of flavor.
  • Dr. Patty Skinkis, Oregon State University - 2018 Extension Distinction Award
    A viticulture extension specialist and associate professor, Dr. Skinkis is highly regarded in the Oregon wine industry, particularly for her approach to "Engaging Industry Citizen Scientists to Address Fundamental Production Issues," as she presented at conference. Her research focuses on whole plant physiology studies designed to understand vine vigor, and the physiology of vine balance and its impact on fruit composition and wine quality, often engaging industry citizen scientists to help conduct long-term yield management research.
    Note: Patty is a member of NGRA's Integrated Production Systems Research Theme Committee.
  • Dr. Veronique Cheynier, Institut National de Recherche Agronomique - Honorary Research Lecture
    Considered one of the world's foremost experts in phenolic compound research, especially in grape and wine phenolics, Dr. Cheynier is Director of Research INRA's Joint Research Unit, Sciences for Enology, Montpellier SupAgro, Université de Montpellier. Her presentation, "Wine Tannins and Pigments: An Overview of 30 Years of Research," was a trove of insights from her three decades of study. 
Congratulations to and thank you to all three for their contributions to the industry!


The SCRI-funded, NGRA-supported Efficient Vineyard project continues its monthly webinar series. The second installment, "Looking Deeper: A Subsurface Vineyard Exploration," takes place July 10. It will focus on how inherent variability in soil properties can be measured spatially using off-the-shelf sensors and how "work smarter, not harder" translates to soil sampling.  Learn more and register here.

The  UC Davis  College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences  has  revived five videos from the UC Davis Extension Symposium "Variety Focus" that ran for seven years, starting in 2005, each year focusing on a different grape variety or region. The lectures were by UC faculty and farm advisors, California growers and winemakers, as well as guests from the focus variety's country of origin. Now playing on the  Foundation Plant Services website!

The next installment of the Washington Wine Commission's popular Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVE) seminars is just a couple weeks away. Co-sponsored by the Wine Commission and Washington State University, the July 11 WAVEx meeting focuses on "Making Better Wine through Chemistry." WAVE and the condensed, practical-application-focused WAVEx seminars are designed to bring viticulture and enology research results into the hands of users and raise awareness of the value of research among grape growers and winemakers.  Learn more and register to attend.

The Oregon Wine Research Institute (OWRI) Technical Newsletter is packed with research updates and a comprehensive list of publications summarizing research conducted by faculty of the OWRI at Oregon State University. The  Summer 2018 edition  is now available. In it, Dr. R. Paul Schreiner, USDA-ARS Research Plant Physiologist, gives a research update on pinot noir nutrient needs and tissue test guidelines for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Dr. James Osborne, OSU Enology Extension Specialist and Associate Professor, along with Dr. Michael Qian, OSU Professor, and Dr. Elizabeth Tomasino, OSU Associate Professor, provide valuable information on their research on the role of grape microflora on pinot noir aroma. And Drs. Alexander Levin and Achala KC, OSU-Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center (SOREC) Assistant Professors, provide a timely article about deficit irrigation and grapevine red blotch virus concerns.  Download a copy and sign up for more.

The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has released its request for applications (RFA) for the  Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational and Applied Science Program.   Six AFRI priority areas are covered by this program, seeking to advance knowledge in fundamental and applied sciences in: Plant Health and Production and Plant Products; Animal Health and Production and Animal Products; Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health; Bioenergy, Natural Resources, and Environment; Agriculture Systems and Technology; and Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities. Research-only, extension-only, and integrated research, education and/or extension projects are solicited. Estimated total program funding is $182 million. 
Letters of Intent are required for many of the grant areas; deadlines are as follows:
  • Agricultural Microbiomes in Plant Systems and Natural Resources - deadline July 18, 2018
  • Agricultural Biosecurity Coordination Network - deadline July 24, 2018
  • Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics Tools (FACT) - deadline July 25, 2018
  • Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (CARE) - deadline July 25, 2018 
  • Exploratory Research - click through for program area priority deadlines

June 26, 2018 │ The Scientist
A leader in the Drosophila community, the University of California-San Diego professor pioneered fruit fly genetics with his book,  Genetic Variations of Drosophila Melanogaster, commonly known as the "Red Book." "Dan Lindsley was one of the preeminent geneticists of the 20th century," says William McGinnis, Dean of Biological Sciences at UCSD.
June 22, 2018 │ The Washington Post
Virginia's wine community is mourning the loss of one of its giants, Dennis Horton of  Horton Vineyards , the maverick vintner who defied conventional wisdom by planting grapes few people had heard of, and in so doing convinced many skeptical oenophiles that Virginia could make great wine. There will be a celebration of Horton's life at the vineyard on July 9.
June 11, 2018 │ SevenFifty Daily
Thanks to extensive DNA testing, resistance research, winemaking analysis and patent and licensing work, it takes at least 15 years to conceive and release a new winegrape variety like Marquette (red) or Itasca (white), the products of renowned grape breeding program at  University of Minnesota . Still, UMN is putting cold-climate winemakers like  Lincoln Peak Vineyard  in Vermont "well on our way to making some very nice wine."
June 8, 2018 │ The Packer
Table grape industry legend Andrew V. Zaninovich passed away on June 1. He spent most of his 91 years as a grower at the family business, Vincent B. Zaninovich & Sons (VBZ). Our condolences to the Zaninovich family.
June 2, 2018 │ Growing Produce
Sunpreme, the most recently developed raisin grape variety from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, stands to revolutionize the raisin industry...IF its propensity for preharvest fruit drop (shatter) can be addressed. Here, Dr. Matthew Fidelibus of the  Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis  shares year-one findings on new research at the  University of California Kearney Agriculture Center  to help Sunpreme reign supreme.
June 1, 2018 │ The Scientist
Grapes in space? NASA's advanced plant experiment (APEX) is growing plants from seeds on the international space station. "The gardening helped to boost the astronauts' diets, and also, anecdotally, brought them joy." Click for video or read the text-based story here.
June 5, 2018 The Packer
Kudos to Senators  Dianne Feinstein and  Kamala Harris (D-Ca.),  John Cornyn (R-Tex.),  Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and  Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who co-signed a letter urging the Senate Ag Committee to increase funding for specialty crop research in the 2018 Farm Bill. Noting that the Specialty Crop Research Initiative is currently authorized at $80 million annually, with $25 million dedicated to citrus health research, the senators wrote, "Unfortunately, the program is already incredibly over-subscribed, with only 10% of the submitted projects submitted receiving funding." Limited funding makes it difficult to get ahead of the issues facing the industry, they said.
June 5, 2018 Farm Journal AgTech
A new algorithm developed by a team of researchers at the  University of Illinois solves an age-old tradeoff plaguing satellite imagery: high spatial resolution vs. high frequency of images. It fuses high-resolution and high-frequency satellite data together to generate 30-meter daily continuous images going back to the year 2000. "This can be used to study changes in agricultural productivity, ecosystem and polar ice dynamics since 2000 in much higher deta il than previously possible," said one researcher. "Our approach may revolutionize the use of satellite data." It requires significant computing resources, though, like the National Science Foundation's Blue Waters supercomputer, making it difficult to access the data. "We want to share the output with the broader scientific community and we are working to find a way to make that possible."
June 5, 2018 │ Wines & Vines
The  California Department of Food and Agriculture established the Pierce's Disease Control Program in 2000 and has had significant success battling the disease and its vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS). Funded by an annual, value-based assessment on wine grapes, to date it has generated more than $55 million for PD/GWSS research. It shows that "great advances can be made in viticulture when significant money is made available for basic and applied research in a consistent way," writes industry veteran and sustainability champion Cliff Ohmart.
May 31, 2018 Good Fruit Grower
A two-year study by Joshua VanderWeide, a Ph.D. graduate research assistant at  Viticulture MSU focused on mechanized vs. manual leaf removal in two 45-vine blocks (merlot and pinot grigio) in 2016 and 2017. For pinot grigio, the goal was to assess whether the mechanized leaf removal system could alleviate rot. For merlot, it was the affect on fruit quality. The differences were marked! The team intends to continue this work with other varieties.
May 2018 │ Wine Business Monthly 
This overview of genetic methods for grapevine improvement for disease and pest resistance notes that, despite industry hesitation regarding adoption of these new tools, a survey of winegrape growers by the American Vineyard Foundation found that 75% support academic research into biotechnology/gene modification research, 57% favor using genetically enhanced materials/products and 77% support AVF-funded biotechnology research.

July 9-11, 2018
July 17-18, 2018
California Association of Winegrape Growers Summer Conference
Napa, CA

November 12, 2018
NGRA End-of-Year Meeting
Location TBD
Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.