September 2019
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

The research vineyard at Missouri State University
Deadlines are a good thing. They create rhythm and flow to tasks and timelines, and establish a priority--often,
urgency--to to-do's. If ever there were a season for deadlines, it seems that, this year, September was the start of it.
In This Issue
Here's a sample of some deadlines we may share. Growers are responding to Mother Nature's deadline, bringing fruit in at the end of its maturation cycle and sending it on its postharvest production journey. Agencies and organizations are writing budgets and planning policy positions for the year to come. Scientists are writing grants, gathering collaborators and collecting letters of support for research whose time has come. And I'm feverishly working (with the help of many people) to  finetune our organization's bylaws and governance policies for greater growth, member involvement and strategic focus, and to ready for NGRA's November Board meeting and the NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop, which I hope you're readying for, too!
The next several weeks will be critical to the outcome of the projects we're all working on. But they also will have bearing on the year--or years--ahead, serving to inform or guide or shape or, dare I say,  change the future for our work-lives, our stakeholders and our industry.
So, cheers to September for the game-changing opportunities it set before us! And good luck to us all as we work through the end of the year, focused on the tasks at hand. Just set those deadlines and go!
Donnell Brown
Have you been thinking about attending the  NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop , but are still on the fence? Check out the  updated agenda, now with an "Introduction to Sensor Technologies" session to kick off the day, laying the groundwork for the daylong discussion. Thirty of the nation's top publicly funded scientists in the sensor space will present their work developing sensor technologies for vine water status, canopy and irrigation management, and pests and diseases. They'll also cover the data integration and modeling applications that translate sensor outputs into information growers can use to manage their vineyards. A panel of innovative growers will present their experiences using sensors, reporting on their successes, reflecting on what they've learned and sharing the high-tech tools they dream about. Come learn about sensors, meet these experts and add your perspective! The event will take place November 13 in Sacramento. Only 200 tickets are available and half are already committed.  Get yours now!
For our colleagues at the  USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Economic Research Service (ERS), the move to Kansas City, MO, is starting to materialize. The American Federation of Government Employees and USDA have reached agreement on moving some federal employees out of the Washington, DC, area to Kansas City. Under the new agreement, affected USDA employees ha d until last Friday ( September 27 ) to decide whether or not to relocate -with a financial incentive equal to one month's salary to move . Out of NIFA's 315 positions, 294 were to relocate while 21 would remain in the national capital region. Of the 329 ERS positions, 253 would relocate and 76 would remain in the DC area. Opposition to the move remains, so although these employees now have a new address, whether it actually happens or not is still uncertain. Read more.
Within its Traditional Scholarship program , the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) now offers a James Wolpert Scholarship Award for students who intend to work in the field of viticulture or enology extension.  Dr. James (Jim) Wolpert was a former chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, and passed away last October. Applications for his eponymous scholarship are due March 1; students applying for the James Wolpert award must also submit a one-page letter of intent outlining the future career they envision in the wine or grape industry. If you know an aspiring viticulturist or enologist, encourage them to apply.
Next year, the ASEV National Conference and ASEV Eastern Section Annual Meeting will be held as a single joint conference in Portland, Oregon. Save the date for June 15-18, 2020.
Dr. Dan Johnson, Managing Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute, is leaving the organization to take up a new appointment as Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Innovation at Macquarie University in North Ryde, Australia, starting in February 2020. Dr. Johnson has been with AWRI since 2006, and has served as its Managing Director since 2011 . Under his leadership, the AWRI has continued to build its national and international reputation for excellence in grape and wine research and innovation. The vacancy is posted on the AWRI website; view the position description.
Linfield College is looking for an Instructional Associate for its Wine Studies program. The 10-month, full-time position is based in McMinnville, Oregon. It is slated to start on January 15, 2020, with teaching duties to begin in the Spring Term. Learn more about this opportunity.
The USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is seeking a permanent, full-time Research Leader for its new Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research Unit (SAWSRU) in Davis, CA. The unit's mission is to make greater use of existing and alternative water sources, both for irrigation and for recharging depleted aquifers. Grape will be one of the unit's first model systems (along with strawberry and tree nuts). It will operate in partnership with and on the campus of UC Davis. The Research Leader will provide programmatic and administrative leadership for the new unit, and conduct independent research, as well.  The official announcement is now posted on

President Donald Trump this month signed a temporary spending bill, H.R. 4378, a.k.a. the Fiscal Year 2020 Continuing Resolution (CR), that funds the government through November 21. The bill extends FY19 funding levels and heads off a lapse in funding that would have occurred at the end of the day today (September 30).
Notably, the spending measure includes language, secured by  Rep. Dan Newhouse  (R-WA), that reinstates the waiver authority that was missing from Farm Bill 2019 for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), the important grant program administered by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). That means that the Agriculture Secretary may waive the match requirement (set at 100%) within SCRI for projects considered to be of significant value to agriculture stakeholders. One downside: Because this is a short-term CR, similar language will need to be included in subsequent appropriations bills that would fund USDA for 2020.
Additionally, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee included language that will provide the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) valuable new funding for research related to precision viticulture. It states, "The Committee recognizes the rapid growth in demand for premium wine and the industry's concurrent benefits in terms of helping numerous rural communities generate new tourism and tax revenue. Relevant stakeholders have identified precision viticulture and decision support systems as the preferred path to improving grape productivity and quality. The Committee provides $1,000,000 for a collaborative research program focused on precision viticulture for premium grapes and wine and to support existing ARS viticulture and enology research programs."
NGRA members may recall that "precision viticulture and decision support systems" was the research priority that emerged from the brainstorming sessions with government scientists and industry representatives at the ARS Workshop we jointly held in November 2017. So, many thanks to ARS for taking that priority to heart!

We're grateful to our elected officials for their support and to the many organizations--many of them NGRA members--that help educate them on the needs for critical scientific funding via USDA programs like these. We're encouraged by these wins and look forward to the advances they'll enable for grape research.

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)  addresses the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Projects must address at least one of the five SCRI focus areas, listed in the Request for Applications (RFA).  The application deadline is October 15.  See the complete RFA .

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) invites stakeholders to submit project proposals for FY20 to implement the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) program. APHIS has $5,000,000 in funding to support the projects with priority given to proposals that focus on specialty crops like grapes. The application deadline is October 18. See the complete RFA.

NGRA is pleased to provide scientists with letters of support for grant applications for  projects that fit  our research priorities.  Because NGRA is a national coalition representing all grape sectors, our endorsement is considered a valuable signal of industry relevance to reviewers as they consider funding allocations.  We ask for a minimum of two weeks' notice to process requests. Email requests for letters of support to NGRA President Donnell Brown.

September 25, 2019 | MacArthur Foundation
This month, the MacArthur Foundation announced its 2019 fellows. The "genius grants" honor "extraordinary originality" and "big-C creativity," and come with a no-strings-attached, 5-year, $625K grant. Honorees are artists, writers, historians, legal advocates, community activists and yes, scientists--including this year, plant biologist Dr. Zachary Lippman. His work at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory combines traditional plant breeding with genomics to optimize the balance of plant inflorescence and leaf production, using tomato as a model system. But the work has applicability to other fruits. Grapes, Dr. Lippman?
September 19, 2019 | National Science Foundation
Scientists at the University of California, Irvine have developed a machine learning-based model for predicting the size of a wildfire from the moment of ignition. "An analogy is what makes something go viral in social media," said PI Shane Coffield. "We can think about what properties of a tweet or post might make it become really popular--and how you might predict that the moment it's posted or even before it's posted."
September 12, 2019 | Newsweek
Following 25 years of study, researchers at Rutgers University say climate change is degrading the ability of soils to absorb water, which could impact its ability to store CO2. "Our results suggest that how water interacts with soil could change appreciably, and do so fairly rapidly," said co-PI Daniel Giménez.
September 10, 2019 | Morning Ag Clips
A research team led by Dr. Brandon Gaut of the University of California Irvine and Dr. Dario Cantu at UC Davis has deciphered the Chardonnay genome. Their results will further plant breeding by understanding how structural variants, or chromosome changes, in the genomes of Chardonnay (and Cabernet Sauvignon, used as a reference) determine differences in taste, color and more. Both varieties, they found, have about 37,000 genes.
September 10, 2019 | Wine Business Monthly
A promising new treatment therapy to enhance grapevine immunity to Pierce's Disease is being developed by researchers in New Mexico. It uses grape-derived peptides that can be applied to grapevines infected with Xylella fastidiosa, the causative bacterial agent of Pierce's Disease, in order to prevent, suppress or cure PD and increase the productive life of grapevines. Field studies are being supported by CDFA Pierce's Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board.
September 9, 2019 | Wine Business
The spotted lanternfly first touched down in Berks Co., PA, in 2014. Not surprisingly, Penn State researchers have been at the forefront of efforts to stop its spread. Click to this great research roundup to learn what they and others have found.
September 8, 2019 | La Cruces Sun News
A study by New Mexico State University seeks to find out how much water is used by three varieties of wine grapes grown in New Mexico vs. how much water the plants receive. The goal, says PI Dr. Gill Giese, is to understand how much water is needed to produce the quantity and quality for the desired production goal, and specific type and style of wine.
September 8, 2019 | Fortune
A little luck and a lot of knowledge can go a long way. The famed Sanford & Benedict Vineyard (with wines from Sanford Winery) was the product of a scientist (Michael Benedict) testing his model for an ideal vineyard environment with a marine-mountain influence.
September 5, 2019 | Genetic Literacy Project
Got time for a little "murder mystery"? This podcast shines a light on how scientists cracked the case of Pierce's Disease.
September 4, 2019 | Wine-Searcher
Phylloxera has been found for the first time in Washington's Walla Walla Valley. It's likely that the pest has been present for at least a decade, as symptoms take 10 to 15 years to manifest. The region is particularly vulnerable to phylloxera because many growers there plant grapevines on their own roots, rather than grafting them onto phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.
September 1, 2019 | Wine Science
In grapes' last stages of ripening (e.g., now), insecticides can't be used to fight the fruit fly, Drosophila suzukii. But there are some biocontrols, including parasitic wasps, nematodes, bacteria, fungi and viruses, that might do the trick.
August 29, 2019 | Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
Scientists at RIT have sequenced the microbiome of tumors of grapevines afflicted with crown gall disease. The study sheds light on the complex interaction between the grapevine and its microbial community, which could lead to better management of one of the most debilitating--and costly--bacterial diseases of grapevines.
August 29, 2019 | The University of Melbourne
Researchers at the University of Adelaide have developed non-destructive, high-tech tools to identify smoke-affected grapes, including infrared thermal image analysis and machine learning modeling based on pattern recognition. "Thermal infrared cameras and near-infrared spectrometers are increasingly available as drone-mounted or handheld instruments that can be attached to smartphones. This makes them more affordable for growers with analysis software in the form of apps," says PI Dr. Sigfredo Fuentes. "We realized that with a relatively small investment and the right software, winemakers could have a solution to smoke taint in their pocket."
August 29, 2019 |
A newly published review of grape harvest dates spanning the past 664 years--the longest continuous record ever constructed--shows that wine grapes in Burgundy have been picked an average of 13 days earlier since 1988 than they were in the previous six centuries. Grape harvest dates can be used as a proxy to study climate because wine grapes are very sensitive to temperature and rainfall.
August 27, 2019 | New York Times
Did you know that chemistry's periodic table is 150 years old this year? Some scientists believe it's time to give the table of elements a fresh perspective, as in upside down. And some are trying to expand it, pursuing the "island of stability," a fabled region of the table populated by superheavy elements 119 and 120 with greater longevity. Cue the "Weird Science" soundtrack...
August 26, 2019 | Science Trends
Identifying the effects of smoke exposure on winegrapes is complex. Here, researchers from Stellenbosch University used 12 candidate wines to see whether subthreshold chemistry could affect the wines' aroma, "arguably the most important intrinsic factor used to judge wine quality." One surprising finding: Guaiacol (the phenol most commonly associated with smoke exposure) did not cause the perception of "smoke" unless it was in combination with other phenols.
August 19, 2019 | USDA
Dr. Rodrigo Krugner, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, has found an innovative way to control the dreaded glassy-winged sharpshooter: tapping into (and scrambling) the vibrational signals they use as mating calls.
August 6, 2019 | EcoWatch
A University of Vermont study underway now at Shelburne Vineyard is looking at the ecological and economic advantages of grazing sheep in vineyards. Researchers will examine the sheep's impact on the soil, foliage, fruit, farming costs and even the thoughts of Shelburne's customers.
May 20, 2018 | Food Republic
Did you know there are more than 10,000 varieties of winegrapes alone? Yet, of them, only about 1,300 are used in winemaking. Another fun fact: according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 70% of grapes grown worldwide become wine. This article spotlights some wine, table and juice grape varieties you might (or might not) know and love.

Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.

November 12, 2019
Tree and Vine Expo
Turlock , CA
November 13, 2019
NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop
Sacramento, CA
November 14, 2019
NGRA End-of-Year Board Meeting
Sacramento, CA
November 15, 2019
Sonoma Grape Expo
Sonoma, CA
November 19, 2019
Grape, Nut & Tree Fruit Expo
Fresno, CA
November 26-28, 2019
Mont pelier, France
February 3, 2020
NGRA Annual Meeting of the Members & First-of-Year Board Meeting
Sacramento, CA
February 4-6, 2020
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
Sacramento, CA
Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.