February 2021
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

After the rain*
When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was crazy about animals (and still am) and the idea of helping them appealed to me. That lasted until I was told I'd be in school until at least the age of 25--ancient!--if I wanted to be a doctor of veterinary medicine. That ended that.
In This Issue
I tried on other aspirations before, as an "adult," I found my way to the grape and wine industry. But if I had been asked when I was in, say, fifth grade, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wouldn't have had even the slightest notion of the career I have and love today.
So, when I hear about programs like Sun-Maid's Board of Imagination (for kids aged 6 to 12), USDA's AgDiscovery Summer Student Program (for 7th to 12th-graders) or Cornell AgriTech's Summer Scholars (for undergrads) that help young people connect with careers in agriculture--specifically viticulture, I'm amazed. As a kid, I had zero connection with the land. To me, "mixed vegetables" was a block of frozen orange and green cubes--I barely identified them as carrots, green beans and lima beans! How would my life have been different if I'd been introduced to farming and food production at a young age? Could I have been the impassioned, teenaged Greta Thunberg for grapes? Will 12-year-old Wyatt Youngblood, son of NGRA Board member Jessica Youngblood, be? (See story under "In the News," below.)
Even in graduate school, young people newly exploring grape and wine research bring fresh enthusiasm and ideas, and often a degree of fearlessness. Witness the student presentations at academic conferences like ASEV and ASEV-Eastern Section. They are terrific opportunities to revisit the joy of discovery--even in the failed hypotheses that contribute valuable new knowledge, too.
I'm proud to report that NGRA is sponsoring our first-ever fellowship candidate, for the FFAR Fellows of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture. His application was due on Monday. If our sponsored Ph.D. student is selected, he will enter a three-year program that includes both academic and industry mentorship and training in professional skills like giving scientific presentations to non-scientific, industry audiences. What I wouldn't give for an education like that today!
We're also starting a series of workshops this spring that gives voice to the many recent grads with academic appointments in viticulture and enology programs across the country. The NGRA new-scientist engagement series will gather small groups of early-career researchers in topical conversations where they can share the focus and outcomes of their programs with industry members, who can in turn ask questions and provide feedback and direction on where their youthful innovation is yet needed.
So, yes--in many ways I agree with George Bernard Shaw's complaint that "youth is wasted on the young." I wouldn't want to be a kid again, but there's so much I'd do differently if I'd known then what I know now! That's what's so compelling about sharing knowledge with young people: the unforeseen and potentially game-changing impact of that act, for them and for us.
Donnell Brown

Steve Vasquez of Sun-Maid Growers of California snapped this photo near Madera, CA.
He says: "
I took this photo on January 29, 2021, the day after a three-day rain event.
It is a newly planted Selma Pete raisin vineyard that will be mechanically harvested
once it is trained. Its first mechanized harvest will likely be in 2023."
In 2020, NGRA started publishing a spreadsheet that captures all publicly available funded grape research. From state and federal grant programs to intramural funding sources (e.g., research coded to grape for USDA scientists annually), it's intended to provide a comprehensive snapshot of how scientists are working to improve viticulture in America. It focuses on public funding sources in the U.S. and includes only projects that are directly related to grape--e.g., grapes are specifically referenced in the title or objectives of the research. We starting compiling this spreadsheet last year and, because we update it ongoingly, we've added a new tab for 2021. Check it out! 
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) announced this week that its 72nd ASEV National Conference has been canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. It will now be held virtually on the same dates, June 21-24, 2021.

Each year, ASEV selects one paper each in the fields of enology and viticulture published in its American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV) the prior year, deemed outstanding in its content and contribution to the field. Each of the papers winning ASEV Best Paper Awards will be presented during the conference and are made freely available on the AJEV website. This year's winners are:
Congrats to the winning authors--and thanks for your contributions to grape research!
From now till April 15, 2021, ASEV-Eastern Section is accepting abstracts for oral and poster presentations on grape or wine topics for its 45th-Annual Virtual ASEV-ES Conference to be held July 7-8, 2021. Authors will be notified of acceptance by May 1.
An initial partnership between Welch's Global Ingredients Group, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, both NGRA member-organizations, and Cornell University's Department of Food Science enabled Welch's to develop a proprietary technology that neutralizes the aroma and flavor of Welch's signature Concord grape juice. The neutralized juice can be used as a base wine or blender and provides a new option for wineries wishing to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. Concord grapes are typically 40-50% less expensive than other neutral/base wine varieties and, with year-round availability, they offer a high quality and cost-effective option even well after harvest. Some winemakers have already produced dry red blends using 10-20% de-characterized Concord as their base. The de-characterized juice is part of a drive to boost New York's Concord grape industry.
For fiscal year 2021, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has awarded funding of more than $70 million to universities, states, federal agencies and other research-related organizations to support 383 plant protection projects in 49 states. The funding comes from the Plant Protection Act's Section 7721 program to strengthen the nation's infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification and threat mitigation; to safeguard the nursery production system; and to respond to plant pest emergencies. Twenty-nine of the 2021 projects are funded through the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN).
A special project group of the North Central Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center wants to learn about grower concerns and experiences with herbicide drift. The group is surveying growers of specialty crops in the upper Midwest to understand the frequency, severity and economic impact of herbicide drift. The study is for commercial growers of fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD or WI. Even if you have never experienced herbicide damage, the team would still like to hear from you if you grow specialty crops in one of these states. Complete the survey.
Sonoma County Winegrowers announced last month that it's establishing the nation's first innovation accelerator for the wine industry, called Sonoma VITS (Vineyard Innovation Through Science). Designed to encourage, collaborate and assist in the development and creation of both short-term and long-term solutions for vineyard resilience, it builds on the region's leadership in sustainability (100% of its growers are certified sustainable) and climate adaptation while preserving local agriculture. The first "pitch day" for ideas from the innovation community will be this summer.
Nominations are being accepted for the 2021 National Cooperative Extension Awards now through May 1, 2021. The program bestows awards in two categories:
  • The Excellence in Extension Awards recognize Cooperative Extension professionals who excel at Extension programming, make a positive impact on his or her constituents and provide visionary leadership.
  • The National Extension Award for Diversity is designed to focus attention on innovative models and techniques that ensure that Extension programs equitably and effectively engage all audiences.
The awards are offered by the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) in partnership with the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
Applications will be accepted until April 2, 2021, for the 2021 California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards, now in its seventh year. California vineyards and wineries that participate in a sustainability program can apply in four categories that recognize outstanding achievement: Environment Award, Community Award, Business Award and Sustainable Winegrowing Leader Award. The awards are presented by the California Association of Winegrape Growers, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team.
A new fellowship in memory of UC Davis alumnus and Napa Valley vintner Richard A. Ward has been established in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology by his widow, Linda Reiff, president and CEO of Napa Valley Vintners, to help in the development of a new generation of winemakers. Ward was co-founder and managing partner of Saintsbury vineyard and winery in Napa. He died in 2017 following a fight with cancer. The Richard A. Ward Fellowship will award $10,000 each year for at least the next decade to help defray tuition and other expenses. Saintsbury also is launching a new wine series to help raise funds to support the fellowship program beyond the initial 10 years.
NGRA member-organization Allied Grape Growers annually surveys all major grapevine nurseries in California and the Northwest in order to tally the amount of winegrape vines sold for planting in California, Oregon and Washington the previous year. This year's survey shows that California landowners planted more than 15,000 acres of new winegrapes in 2020, that will be bearing in 2023. It also confirmed that the varieties planted by vineyard developers has not changed much in recent years. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir continue to be planted in significance with Sauvignon Blanc in a distant fourth place. Collectively, these four varieties have accounted for more than 70% of all new vineyard plantings over the last three years.
The Lodi Winegrape Commission, an NGRA member-organization, seeks to hire a Viticulture Research Specialist to expand its viticulture research capabilities. This new position includes conducting and analyzing on-farm viticulture research trials within the Lodi AVA, with research leading to meaningful and practical results that can be broadly disseminated through the Commission's robust outreach activities.

President's Day weekend may have been a holiday for some, but for grape growers and farmers from the Pacific Northwest to Texas and the central U.S. to the Northeast, frigid temperatures, snow and ice (not to mention compromised electricity and water utilities) made it anything but relaxing. Viticulturally, the effects of the freakish weather, called Winter Storm Uri, are still being understood.
Juan Anciso, an Extension horticulturist with Texas A&M AgriLife in Weslaco, said the winter conditions rival a historic freeze in the state in December 1989 that caused severe damage to Texas winter crops. "We'll know if (this storm) ranks with '89 in a few weeks, but temperatures (were) well below the threshold for crops and for long periods," he said. "That's not a good combination for growers."
What's sure now is, growers in Texas and other moderate-weather states find themselves newly in need of cold tolerance research and management information. Here are some resources:
  • TODAY the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Viticulture Team is hosting an emergency virtual tailgate talk called "After the Freeze" to discuss recovery plans for commercial vineyards. Hear from the state's program specialists on preliminary reports from vineyard scouting and how to assess cold injury and recovery. (Note: The team intends to record this event; check back for a link.)
  • USDA-ARS geneticist Jason Londo researches the biological processes governing bud hardiness and works to develop more accurate models to predict bud hardiness from onsite temperature data. Jim Willwerth, researcher at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University leads research and outreach efforts on grapevine hardiness and freeze mitigation strategies. Based in the Finger Lakes Region of New York and in Ontario, Canada, respectively, Jason and Jim have plenty of direct experience with cold-weather viticulture. In this prescient webinar, recorded in December 2020 as part of the Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forum webinar series, they download on "Modeling and Monitoring How Grapevines Gain and Lose Cold Hardiness."
  • Washington State University's Viticulture & Enology Program website has a comprehensive collection of Grapevine Cold Hardiness tools, including current real-time monitoring values from the vineyard at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, WA, and graphs of current season observed cold hardiness by variety for juice and winegrape types. Perhaps the most useful tool for growers outside of Washington is the modeling tool that can be used to predict grapevine bud cold hardiness based on ambient air temperatures. Follow the instructions on the website to request an Excel file with which you can import your own weather data and run the model yourself.
Grapevines are surprisingly resilient and have genetic mechanisms that enable them to withstand brutal cold. In fact, some of the more popular varieties used in the wine and juice industries can survive temperatures far below freezing. By a process called supercooling, cellular mechanisms within the bud maintain water in liquid state down to as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species. Beyond a certain low-temperature threshold, though, ice forms inside the cells, cellular functions cease and the bud dies. Scientists like Cornell's Bruce Reisch are using this information to inform breeding programs into the future.
But for now, growers' best bet is to consult their local viticulture Extension specialists for help assessing the damage.
Sharpen your pencils! These grant programs have upcoming deadlines.

Specialty Crop Block Grants
The Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program is made available by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and administered by State Departments of Agriculture. If you've ever wished you could have an overview of all deadlines by state, you're in luck. NGRA is now monitoring these dates and updating them ongoingly in our new spreadsheet of SCBG deadlines. Download it now! (Hint: 13 states have block grant deadlines in March.)

New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is accepting nominations for its 2021 New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award. This award provides early-career scientists the investment needed to bolster their successful careers in food and agriculture. Deadline is March 3.

Seeding Solutions
FFAR also seeks pre-proposals for its 2021 Seeding Solutions competitive grant program that supports transformative research to solve pressing issues in its six challenge areas: soil health, sustainable water management, next-generation crops, advanced animal systems, urban food systems and health-agriculture nexus. Deadline is March 10.

NCSFR Grants
The Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research (NCSFR) is accepting applications for FY 2021 funding for small fruits research in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Maximum funding allowed under this program is $50,000 per year. Deadline is April 1.

# # #

If you're a scientist planning to apply for these or other grant programs, you can request a letter of support (if needed) from NGRA on our website.

Researchers Train Dogs to Sniff out Pests and Pathogens
February 22, 2021 | Capital Press
A national research team co-led by Virginia Tech and Texas Tech is starting a four-year project training dogs to sniff out pests and pathogens, including spotted lanternfly eggs and powdery mildew.

February 18, 2021 | Wine Enthusiast
It was a big month for space news. (NASA landed a rover on Mars!) Want to eat like an astronaut? Try muscadines.
February 13, 2021 | Los Angeles Times
The rainy season has become "shorter and sharper" in California, climate scientists say. Instead of starting in November, more rain falls now in January and February. But, says Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, of the state's fabled winds, "Some of our strongest Santa Anas can occur in December and January when winter storms are more powerful, and that is a problem if we have not received precipitation in advance of those stronger systems."
February 9, 2021 | Good Fruit Grower
Think you know your sources of carbon and nutrients from your sinks? As part of a session on vine balance, Penn State Wine and Grape Team viticulturist Cain Hickey explains that it may be more complex--and fluid--than you think.
February 9, 2021 | New York Post
Twelve-year-old Wyatt Youngblood, son of NGRA Board member Jessica Youngblood of Youngblood Vineyard in metro Detroit, has attracted international attention! The Daily Mail and New York Post have both shared viticulture and enology videos from Wyatt's YouTube channel, where he relates the science behind everything from planting to trellising, harvesting to fermenting to bottling. As the Post says, Wyatt is CRUSHING IT!
February 8, 2021 | Wine Industry Advisor
Grape growers can use their smartphones to assess vine water stress and create irrigation schedules using a new AI-enabled app from Tule Technologies.
February 6, 2021 | Finger Lakes Times
Founding NGRA Board member John Martini, owner of Anthony Road Wine Company, went from thinking he'd be an attorney to being one of the Finger Lakes' best-loved winemakers and advocate, not only for the region, but for science to support the whole grape and wine industry. He's also a fan-favorite at New York City's Jackson Heights and Union Square Greenmarkets.
February 4, 2021 | CSIRO
Australia is developing bushfire modeling and prediction capability under an agreement between CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, and AFAC, its National Council for Fire and Emergency Services.
February 3, 2021 | PLOS ONE
A new root-knot nematode has been identified in Vitis vinifera vineyards in one of China's most important viticultural regions.
February 2, 2021 | Good Fruit Grower
It may seem counterintuitive, but USDA-ARS entomologist Tracy Leskey is working hard to keep colonies of spotted lanternfly alive. It's part of a $7.3M SCRI-funded effort to study SLF's biology and develop sustainable management strategies in vineyards.
February 1, 2021 | Rochester First
As part of NGRA-initiated research led by Washington State University, Rochester Institute of Technology professor Jan van Aardt is working on a drone-based sensor that uses light reflectance to assess the nutrition status of grapevines.
February 1, 2021 | Good Fruit Grower
Although powdery mildew is often thought of as a late season disease, the best way to manage it is to start early. Early-season scouting can help avoid control program failures by IDing when disease pressure is highest, spray coverage or timing isn't effective, or fungicide resistance is developing.
February 2021 | Wine Business Monthly
The VitisGen2 project has developed gene sequencing technology and DNA marker data with which grape breeders can easily and inexpensively identify grapevine germplasm with traits of interest, like resistance to powdery mildew. Mapping populations exist now, with well-documented marker-trait association information. And one lowly grapevine, humbly named "Illinois 547-1," helped pave the way.
January 28, 2021 | The Drinks Business
Research from China shows that the tannic acid found in grapes and wine can effectively inhibit the activity of two key enzymes of the coronavirus. The PI, Mien-Chie Hung of China Medical University, Taiwan, "believe(s) that the consumption of adequate food and drinks with tannins is a way to boost one's immunity to the virus."
January 28, 2021 | KATV
Wines will soon be available from the University of Arkansas grape varieties, Dazzle and Indulgence. Developed over nearly 60 years, they are well-suited to commercial production in Arkansas and similar growing regions.
January 28, 2021 | Winetitles Media
Wine Australia is working with remote sensing and AI specialist Deep Planet to provide "hands-off yield estimates with average accuracy over 90% for Australia's top varietals" two to four weeks before harvest. The company's yield estimates are based on satellite imagery, historical data and agronomy models.
January 27, 2021 | Morning Ag Clips
Researchers at Washington State University are analyzing hundreds of wild yeasts taken from vineyards across Washington to determine what strains are most beneficial for fermentation. Many winemakers believe these non-saccharomyces yeasts (those found naturally on the grape) positively contribute to mouthfeel in the final wine.
January 27, 2021 | Queensland Country Life
There's a new phrase in weather and climate science: "flash drought." Meteorologists use it to describe the sudden onset and rapid intensification of drought conditions over a period of two to four weeks, quickly ripping moisture out of the upper layer of soil. Australians are feeling the effects of the new phenomenon.
November 27, 2020 | Undark
Scientifically speaking, what makes things smell the way they do? In his new book, author and professor Harold McGee breaks down scents (not all of them pleasant), explaining the unique chemical compounds and reactions that bring them into being. In the process, "he also delivers a brief molecular history of the planet" and even outer space.

Find these stories and more, published daily, on NGRA's Facebook and Twitter feeds.
March 1-3, 2021
Virtual event

March 2-3 and 9-10, 2021
Texas Wine and Grape Virtual Forum
Virtual event

March 2 and 4, 2021
FRAME Networks Webinar
Virtual event

March 3-5, 2021
Virtual event

March 4, 2021
Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVE) Webinar Series
David James, Washington State University

March 9-23, 2021
Virtual event

March 10, 2021
Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forum Webinar Series
Emily Pelton, Veritas Vineyard and Winery; Sarah Troxell, Galen Glen Winery; and David Breeden, Sheldrake Point Vineyards

March 24, 2021
Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forum Webinar Series
Imed Dami, Ohio State University and Michela Centinari, Pennsylvania State University

March 30, 2021
Virtual event

April 7-8, 2021
UC Davis Recent Advances in Viticulture & Enology (RAVE)
Virtual event

April 8, 2021
Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVE) Webinar Series
Manoj Karkee, Washington State University

April 14, 2021
Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forum Webinar Series
Clark Smith, WineSmith Consulting

April 19-21, 2021
Virtual event

April 28, 2021
Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forum Webinar Series
Mengjun Hu, University of Maryland and Tim Miles, Michigan State University

May 4-6, 2021
Enoforum USA Technical Conference
Virtual event

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.