January 2020
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

Left to right: Powdery mildew-resistant wine, juice and table grape selections emerging from the VitisGen project*
With the sleepy holidays behind us, 2020 has started with a bang! Conference season is in full swing. Starting this month, there were at least two grape and wine industry events somewhere in America every week. February is even more intense, beginning with NGRA's first-of-year Board meeting and the  Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento  next week and state and regional meetings everywhere throughout the month. We work hard to catalog the action-- check out the events page on our website  for a rolling snapshot of the year.
In This Issue
January was a month of intense grant-writing for our academic colleagues. Today is the deadline for the Unified Grant Management System for grant programs from the American Vineyard Foundation, Oregon Wine Board, Washington Wine Commission, California Table Grape Commission, California Grape Rootstock Improvement Commission and more.  And the March 13 deadline for full proposals for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) is now less than six weeks away. But SCRI applicants got some welcome news this month, when the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced that the 100% matching requirement has been waived. (More below.)
This month also brought opportunities to reconvene with old friends and make some new. The ongoing, NGRA-supported VitisGen2 project, now halfway through its own SCRI grant, held its annual team meeting the first week of January. I am honored to chair the team's advisory committee and awed by the strides the team has made. Already, several promising new wine, juice and table grape selections have emerged from their work to identify genetic markers for powdery mildew resistance, some of which are shown above. And now, the team has given us the first comprehensive map of the Vitis genome. (More below.)
Regarding new friends, well, they had me at "hops." The Hop Research Council invited me to deliver the luncheon keynote at their winter conference last week, to compare notes about our respective research programs. The brewers and hop growers in attendance listened graciously, asked good questions and handed me a cold beer the moment I stepped off stage. But more importantly, they let me sit in on their own proceedings, where I learned how their industry works to actualize research and what that research looks like. (Hello, powdery mildew!) The way each of our organizations mobilize our research missions is somewhat different, but we are alike in our desire to improve quality and productivity for our stakeholders.
January offered a breathless beginning to the new year. Hang on to your hats for February!
Donnell Brown
Photo credits, left to right: Matt Clark (University of Minnesota),
Bruce Reisch (Cornell University) and Craig Ledbetter (USDA-ARS, Parlier)
Agenda highlights are available now and tickets will be soon  for the next annual National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership Conference (NVEELC)! To be be held April 26-29, 2020, in Ithaca, NY, and co-chaired by Anna Katharine Mansfield and Hans Walter-Peterson of Cornell University, the event will kick off with a welcome reception on Sunday evening, April 26, and conclude with an optional half-day workshop on data visualization on Wednesday, April 29. Tickets will be $200 per person. If you're an outreach or extension specialist in the grape and wine industry, get ready to sign up!  NGRA is proud to support this annual grassroots event.
The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) this month announced that the 100% industry match that was instated for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grant program with the passage of Farm Bill 2018 has been waived. Director Scott Angle said, "Today, NIFA informed SCRI applicants that for FY 2020, in accordance with General Provision 762 of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116-94), NIFA will be waiving the match requirement for recipients of grants under SCRI. This means that no matching funds will be required of FY 2020 applicants or awardees, and applicants will not need to submit a waiver request with their application." The deadline for SCRI applications remains March 13, 2020. See the chart of matching requirements (with the new info highlighted in yellow) for NIFA grants.
Two NGRA Board members are included in  Wine Industry Network 's 2020 roundup of "Wine's Most Inspiring People." Congratulations to the iconic Jerry Lohr of  J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines  and Jim Trezise of  WineAmerica , and many thanks for your ample and inspiring contributions to the wine and grape industry!  Read about Jerry's and Jim's accomplishments and see all 10 of the honorees.
The USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this month launched a Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation. It streamlines information about the regulations around agriculture biotech products and is part President Trump's June 2019 Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products.

The website reflects federal efforts to encourage technology innovation in agriculture. As per Secretary Sonny Perdue's 2018 announcement on plant breeding technology, the USDA does not regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques. This would include plants (grapevines included) developed through new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed via traditional breeding methods.
The American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) has announced the distinguished scientists who'll be recognized--and speaking--at the Joint 71st ASEV National Conference and 45th ASEV Eastern Section Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, on June 15-18, 2020. Congratulations to:

Merit Award Presentation - "Forty Years of Wine and Sensory Science"
Dr. Hildegarde Heymann, University of California, Davis
Extension Distinction Award Presentation - "Land Grants and Grapes: Traditional Approaches for Modern Extension Programs"
Dr. Michelle Moyer, Washington State University, Prosser
Honorary Research Lecturer
Dr. Hans Schultz, Hochschule Geisenheim University, Germany
In addition, ASEV seeks abstracts for this year's joint ASEV national and ASEV-ES conference. Submissions must be received by February 18, 2020. The technical abstracts that are accepted will be presented June 17 and 18, 2020. See the call for abstracts for complete details.
NGRA member Wine Institute has launched a new website at  to highlight its public policy work at the state, federal and international levels, and share extensive wine industry information and resources with winery members, media, trade and policymakers. The new site presents Wine Institute's mission and advocacy priorities, and shares information on key initiatives and issues, such as the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act; international trade policy, including trade agreements and retaliatory tariffs; state-by-state efforts to prevent tax and fee increases and monopoly protection laws nationwide; California legislative and regulatory action on alcohol policy, labor and employment, water and land use and more.
The Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) seeks nominations for its 2020 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award. With this program, FFAR intends to support and promote the future generation of exceptionally talented and creative new faculty who are conducting critical and highly innovative research, and are establishing research programs that will lead to expanded availability of food and facilitate the global practice of sustainable agriculture as the world's population grows to more than 9 billion people by the year 2050. Nominations are due March 4, 2020, and must be made by the nominee's institution. Self-nominations are not accepted.   Check out the 2018 class of New Innovators  (the 2019 awardees have not yet been announced) and see complete call for 2020 nominees here.

By  Sarah Thompson,  Cornell Chronicle
Using a powerful automated DNA sequencing strategy called rhAmpSeq, which they developed in collaboration with Integrated DNA Technologies, the VitisGen2 team has gone beyond simply mapping the genetic markers for powdery and downy mildew resistance. They can now develop genetic markers that successfully transfer across grapevine species 92% of the time. With this breakthrough in translating the grapevine genome, breeders worldwide will be able to screen their collections and find out immediately which vines have the traits they want--regardless of what varieties they are or their genetic origins. This research is detailed in "Haplotyping the Vitis Collinear Core Genome With rhAmpSeq Improves Marker Transferability in a Diverse Genus," published January 21 in the journal Nature Communications.*
How did they do it? In a nutshell, they uncovered the "core genome" of grapevines, identifying important regions shared among 10 species' genomes. Then, they targeted those regions to develop robust DNA markers that were readily assayed using rhAmpSeq technology. Of the 2,000 markers the team developed, 92% matched with four grape families spanning the diversity of the Vitis (grapevine) genus, including related species that diverged 20 million years ago.
The VitisGen2 team already has applied these new markers to more than 22,000 grapevines, including those within the USDA Agricultural Research Service's national grapevine collection in Geneva, NY, and Davis, CA. The markers also reliably map muscadine grapes, a related species native to the southeastern U.S. and a major source of disease resistance genes.
"This tool is much more powerful than we realized," said VitisGen2 co-PI Lance Cadle-Davidson, a research plant pathologist with the USDA's Grape Genetics Research Unit in Geneva. "It opens up so many new opportunities to make connections where none existed before. Now we're all speaking the same language."
Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulture at Cornell AgriTech and co-PI of VitisGen2, says, "This new marker development strategy goes well beyond grapes. It's applicable for breeding and genetic studies across different grape breeding programs, plant species and other diverse organisms."

"This is game-changing work--and it's only the beginning," said Donnell Brown, president of the National Grape Research Alliance. "From here, we can greatly accelerate the genetic exploration that will help us improve fruit and production quality and, ultimately, respond to the threats of pests and diseases, a changing climate and more."
Vitis Gen2 is supported by a grant from USDA-NIFA. A project supported by the National Science Foundation and Breeding Insight also contributed to this study.
This original story, titled "Genetic Marker Discovery Could Ease Plant Breeders' Work," appeared in the Cornell Chronicle on January 21, 2020;  see the full article here . Author Sarah Thompson is a freelance writer for Cornell AgriTech.
*Co-lead authors on the paper are Cheng Zou, postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Biotechnology Institute, and Avinash (Avi) Karn, postdoctoral researcher in the Reisch lab at Cornell AgriTech.

How does the foundational work described above impact the grape and wine industry financially? Find out on  February 20, 2020, when Drs. Julian Alston and Olena Sambucci of UC Davis give an overview of the basic economics of grape varietal innovations. This will be a first look at new work the team has under way as part of t he Trait Economics element of  Vitis Gen2, focusing on consumer and producer demand for new table grape varieties. Free.  Register here.

January 27, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
Michigan growers are finding it harder to manage powdery mildew and botrytis bunch rot as both pathogens display abundant resistance to commonly used fungicides in the state, says Timothy Miles, who manages the Michigan State University Small Fruit Pathology Lab. "There's a lot we use over and over again," he says, and unfortunately, new fungicides are a rarity for grape growers. Tim is part of the national, SCRI-funded FRAME Network, searching for solutions.
January 22, 2020 | Wine Spectator
Phylloxera was found in the traditionally own-rooted vines of Washington's Walla Walla AVA last fall. Washington State University scientists are now working to map the infection and contain the spread. Michelle Moyer at the WSU-IAREC says they will help vintners mitigate the decline of infected plants, with mulches, fertilizers and irrigation strategies. In the end, vineyards will need to be replanted, grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstocks. But they say the state's vintners and wine fans need not panic. "I don't think it's as devastating as we originally thought," says WSU's Gwen Hoheisel.
January 21, 2020 | EurekAlert
New journal alert: The newly launched, open-access and peer-reviewed Viticulture Data Journal encourages international collaboration and fosters "open science." It covers viticulture topics ranging from genetics and food safety to rootstock and clonal evaluation and climate change adaptation, and focuses on "non-conventional" research such as models, methods, software, data analytics pipelines and visualization methods. It is a collaboration between Pensoft Publishers the EU project AGINFRA+.
January 20, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
Ben-Min Chang at the WSU-IAREC Is developing a new concept for evaporative cooling. "We need to wet leaves but not the soil (or the fruit)," he says, "so cooling doesn't interfere with deficit irrigation, promote disease or waste water." With an infrared radiometer to assess leaf temperature and a leaf wetness sensor, the system signals a solenoid to turn misting nozzles on and off. It's only in prototype now, but cooperators at Ciel du Cheval Vineyard say, "it's an awesome idea."
January 16, 2020 | Wine Spectator
Until last month, the Dalai Lama, the most prominent practitioner of humility, owned the world's smallest commercial vineyard: three vines in Switzerland's Valais region. A couple in Sussex, England, has one-downed the Tibetan spiritual leader with their mere two vines, now licensed for commercial winemaking. "I read [the Dalai Lama] has three vines, so I thought, 'I can go one better!'" said owner Dominic Buckwell. Wine Spectator columnist Shawn Zylberberg writes, "We'll leave to philosophers the question of whether it is, in fact, actually prideful to out-humble the earthly incarnation of compassion."
January 16, 2020 | AgNet West
UC Berkeley's Kent Daane is leading a project that seeks to develop a practical, area-wide strategy for addressing vine mealybug populations and determine the most cost-effective way for mitigating damage associated with grape leafroll associated virus. "We need to understand where these infections are coming from," Kent notes. "Is it from the nurseries? From mealybugs in the root remnants? Being blown in from next-door neighbors? Until we control the source of the infection, we cannot economically constantly rogue if we're roguing every single year." Lodi Winegrowers, an NGRA member, is a collaborator with Central Coast growers.
January 15, 2020 | The University of Adelaide
Helping growers optimize water use is a primary goal of a $5 million digital technologies project supporting on-farm decision making for winegrape production. An open-source digital platform called VitiVisor will collect and analyze sensor data to assess vineyard performance and advise on management practices such as irrigation, pruning, and the application of fertilizer, fungicides and pesticides. The project is led by The University of Adelaide; Riverland Wine and Wine Australia are collaborators.
January 14, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
A French organization called Nouveaux Champs (new fields), has developed a Zero Pesticide Residue (ZPR) seal that will soon appear on the first wines there, including three from forerunner Les Vignerons de Tutiac. The ZPR designation certifies that sustainable practices were used in the field and guarantees there is no pesticide contamination in the finished product. It also enables growers to sell their products at a price 30% higher than usual.

January 3, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
Dr. Pierre Galet, considered the "father of ampelography," died last week. He was 98. The English-language version of his work, "A Practical Ampelography: Grapevine Identification," was translated by Virginia's Lucie Morton, his first American student, and published in 1979. It remains the definitive reference on the "methods for grapevine identification together with his descriptions of commercially important American and European grape varieties and rootstocks." Thank you for all you gave us, Dr. Galet.
January 2, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
The pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is used not only on grapes, but walnuts, almonds and other crops, will be phased out by the end of 2020 in California. The California Department of Food and Agriculture will ban sales beginning February 6. Growers will not be allowed to store chlorpyrifos after December 31. The state has set aside more than $5.7 million in research grants to develop sustainable alternatives.
December 29, 2019 | Wine Business Monthly
Thanks to Wine Business Monthly for this overview of some of the tech presented at our NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop in November! As writer Ted Rieger notes, the event "presented current sensor knowledge and applications by research scientists working throughout the U.S. representing academia, industry and government agencies." The article includes notes on soil-moisture and light sensors, and the Efficient Vineyard, Open ET, GRAPEX projects.
December 28, 2019 | The New York Times
This article by science reporters Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport of The New York Times cites the relocation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture--and the ensuing attrition--as one example of how "science (is) under attack" in America. "At a time when the United States is pulling back from world leadership in other areas like human rights or diplomatic accords, experts warn that the retreat from science is no less significant," they write. "Many of the achievements of the past century that helped make the United States an envied global power, including gains in life expectancy, lowered air pollution and increased farm productivity are the result of the kinds of government research now under pressure."
December 23, 2019 | Isreal21c
What if the health benefits of a daily glass of red wine could be supersized? Israeli agricultural researchers are working on it. By stressing test vines, s cientists at Tel-Hai College are trying to raise the naturally occurring levels of resveratrol, seeking to  make the resulting wine many times healthier, effectively turning it into a superfood that confers exceptional health benefits due to its nutrient density. 
December 23, 2019 | Popular Mechanics
Scientists at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have developed a gene-edited tomato plant with shortened vines and clusters of fruit--just like grapes. They used CRISPR technology to alter three genes in the plant's DNA to make it easier to grow tomatoes in extremely challenging conditions like space.
December 17, 2019 | University of California
Four new studies from UC Agriculture & Natural Resources provide details about trellis type, planting density, cost and potential benefit of vineyard mechanization for wine grapes. Each study focuses on a single variety--Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Rubired and Colombard--planted in the southern San Joaquin Valley. "Based on these studies, fully implemented mechanization reduces the production cost from $3,000 to $2,500 per acre and that represents 17% cost reduction," says George Zhuang, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor for Fresno County.
December 2019 | The Center for Rural Pennsylvania
How much damage could the spotted lanternfly inflict in a single state? Penn State economists released a report estimating the potentially severe economic consequences to Pennsylvania agriculture if the SLF is not contained. At worst (e.g., no mitigation against the spread of the pest), losses could reach as high as $554 million per year and nearly 5,000 jobs--in Pennsylvania alone.
October 3, 2019 | Seven Fifty Daily
Research by Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel at Cornell University shows that cover crops can benefit vineyards in a number of ways, helping to preserve soil, enrich its health, nutritive properties and water availability, manage vine vigor, and improve even depleted vineyards' yield and productivity. Her study also found that maintaining cover crops instead of using herbicides reduces viticulture costs. "This idea that we can grow vines with open, bare soil, is not a good one," she says.
September 2019 | Oregon State University
'Tis the season...for pruning. Dr. Patty Skinkis at Oregon State University conducted a research trial comparing cane and spur pruning in Oregon, finding that pinot noir can be spur-pruned without yield losses.
September 2019 | Oregon State University
Oregon State University's Drs. James Osborne and Elizabeth Tomasino produced a helpful five-page primer on smoke exposure in grapes. "While there's still a lot we don't know, " they write, "certain practices can help grape growers identify affected grape lots early and reduce skin contact during processing (to) reduce the impact of smoke on the sensory characteristics of wine."
August 27, 2019 | Growing Produce
If you've ever wondered how molecular methods differ from traditional breeding, read this helpful explanation by legendary grape (and berry) breeder Dr. John Clark of the University of Arkansas. For a "traditional plant breeder," he writes, "most decisions (are) based on the phenotype and very little emphasis on the genotype present in the plant."
July 31, 2019 | ABC News
Got goals this new year? Here's some inspiration from an aspiring scientist at Scotland's University of Dundee.
Slovenian Convention Bureau
Did you know that the oldest fruit-bearing grapevine is more than 450 years old? Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, the "Stara Trta" (old vine) has survived since the Middle Ages! It is the variety zametovka and grows in Maribor, Slovenia. Pruning is a ceremonial event and grafts are sent to cities around the world.

Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.
February 3, 2020
Annual Meeting of the Members & First-of-Year Board Meeting
Sacramento, CA
February 4-6, 2020
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
Sacramento, CA
February 5, 2020
Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award Presentation at the
WGA Annual Leadership Luncheon
Co-located with the Unified Symposium
Sacramento, CA
February 11, 2020
UC Davis Short Course: Current Wine and Winegrape Research - Wine Grapes and Enology
Led by NGRA Board member, Deborah Golino
D avis, CA
February 11-12, 2020
Oregon Wine Symposium
Portland, OR
February 11-13, 2020
World Ag Expo
Tulare, CA
February 16-21, 2020
International Table Grape Symposium
Santiago, Chile
February 17-18, 2020
Ohio Grape & Wine Conference
Dublin, OH
February 20-21, 2020
USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum
Arlington, VA
February 19:  Pre-conference field trip  includes a tour of the USDA's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, MD
February 20-22, 2020
2020 Cold Climate Conference
Rochester, MN
February 20-22, 2020
Texas Wine and Grape Growers Conference
Irving, TX
February 25, 2020
Lodi Grape Day
Lodi, CA
February 27, 2020
California Table Grape Commission Annual Meeting
Fresno, CA
February 26-28, 2020
Rochester, NY
February 27, 2020
IQ 2020
St. Helena, CA
March 2-5, 2020
Washington Winegrowers Convention & Trade Show
Kennewick, WA
March 4-6, 2020
Missouri Grape & Wine Conference
Columbia, MO
March 10-12, 2020
Eastern Winery Exposition
Lancaster, PA
March 19, 2020
2020 Winter Grape Grower Conference
Fredonia, NY
March 25, 2020
WiVi Central Coast
Paso Robles, CA

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.