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

Jerry Lohr, 2019 Rich Smith Award Recipient*

At the annual Leadership Luncheon of the Winegrape Growers of America (WGA), held here in Sacramento yesterday, Jerry Lohr was honored with the third-annual Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award. NGRA is pleased to collaborate with WGA, WineAmerica and the Smith Family to bestow the award, given in the name of the late Rich Smith in recognition of his collegiality and science-oriented service. And we're thrilled--but not surprised--that Jerry was this year's recipient.
In This Issue
Jerry was among the founders of the National Grape Research Alliance, back when the idea was first hatched in 2003 as the Winegrower's Critical Research Investment Initiative, and 16 years later, he continues to serve as a member of NGRA's Board of Directors. Like Rich Smith, Jerry runs a family business, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, an icon of the Central Coast, and is a prolific doer and a well-known force for good. He has worked tirelessly to muster support for priority research for the grape and wine industry, and for important programs and institutions that further our cause. In 2018 alone, he has made considerable contributions of funds and inimitable talent toward water issues in the Central Valley and the new Cal Poly Center for Wine and Viticulture, which will fittingly bear his name (with Justin Vineyards).
Jerry is the recipient of many industry awards and accolades. What makes this one special? Its association with Rich Smith.
Said Jason Smith, CEO of Paraiso Vineyards and Smith Family Wines, at yesterday's luncheon: "It is an honor to present this award to Jerry Lohr. His decades of dedication from research and marketing to policy and science have been integral to the success of our industry nationwide. Jerry and my dad sat on many boards and shared a similar passion to do what is best for the winegrape growing community in a selfless and dedicated way that is hard to replicate. It gives the family great pleasure to share this award with Jerry Lohr in my dad's name."
We are so proud to work with Jerry and pleased to be one of the organizations conferring this heartfelt award. Congratulations, Jerry--well-deserved!
Donnell Brown
*Photo Courtesy J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
If you've never seen the bluebonnets in bloom across the Texas Hill Country, now's your chance! This year's National Viticulture & Enology Extension Leadership Conference (NVEELC) will be held in Fredericksburg, Texas, April 7-9, with an optional viticulture and enology workshop on April 10. It's primetime for bluebonnet viewing and for visiting the blossoming wine industry in this emerging region. Save the date!
Co-hosted in 2019 by Texas Tech University and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, NVEELC is a grassroots event, held annually since 2006, that's planned and organized by the community of practice with support from NGRA. This year's event promises a robust, well-designed program in the heart of Texas wine country, designed to provide professional development, best-practice sharing and network-building specifically for extension and outreach professionals serving the grape and wine industry . Stay tuned, not only for ticket information but for scholarship and sponsorship opportunities!
On January 25, the federal government was least for the next three weeks, until February 15. Thanks to the partial government shutdown, in effect since December 22, the longest in history,  work at the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other "non-essential" research-related federal agencies had ground to a halt. Experiments languished, grant applications were not reviewed, scientists had to forego speaking engagements and missed countless meetings. In fact, our scientific colleagues were prohibited from communicating a t all, preventing forward-looking planning, too. We are glad to have our government scientists back online and are hopeful they remain at work past the next funding deadline.  As noted by Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU): "Although three weeks of funding is better than no funding at all, the U.S. research enterprise does not operate anywhere close to full strength when agencies are only guaranteed to be open three weeks at a time."
Congratulations to Alice Wise, viticulture and research specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, and Keith Eggleston, a climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center! Earlier this month, each received an Excellence in Integrated Pest Management Award from the The New York State IPM Program. The award honors individuals who encourage the adoption of IPM practices, and who develop new tools and tactics for sharing these practices. Learn more about the exceptional work that earned Alice and Keith their accolades.
Breeding Insight, the new program funded by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service through Cornell University is getting going! New Director Dr. Moira Sheehan started this month and is looking for staff. Their mission? Combining genomics and informatics to accelerate genetic gains. Click to see the open positions and apply.
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is accepting nominations for the 2019 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award. This award supports early-career scientists pursuing research that sustainably enhances agricultural production or improves health through food. FFAR will grant as many as 10 awards, and each awardee may receive up to $600,000 (including matching funds), over three years. Last month, FFAR announced its nine New Innovators for 2018, who received a total of $4.67 million from the Foundation and matching funders. The deadline for nominations for the 2019 is February 28. Click to read more about this prestigious award.

Before inexpensive DNA sequencing was available, grape breeders had to rely solely on traits observed in the field to decide which new seedlings produced through crosses to keep and which to discard. For powdery mildew or downy mildew, this meant tossing out any plants that showed infections during the first year of growth and keeping those that didn't. Using this method of field phenotyping, they didn't have any information on which and how many genes were involved in resistance to the disease and whether or not the trait would emerge in a subsequent round of breeding. DNA markers and more extensive use of mapping populations--as in the work of Vitis Gen2--have changed all that.
Since about 2000, genetics researchers have been busy linking DNA sequences (called markers) to specific locations on grape chromosomes (loci) that are associated with observed traits of grapevines in the field (phenotypes). To date, they have identified markers for at least 13 loci for resistance to powdery mildew and 27 for downy mildew . Now that they have these markers, breeders can test seedlings for the presence of specific genes or loci and know what and how many loci for disease resistance they have.
This powerful new approach gives breeders the means to reliably incorporate desirable traits into breeding lines. For example, having DNA markers for a strong locus for Pierce's disease resistance (named Pdr1 for Pierce's disease resistance 1) allowed University of California-Davis professor Andy Walker (a VitisGen collaborator) to pass through five successive "backcross cycles" confidently and quickly, to incorporate Pdr1 (from wild Vitis arizonica) in a 98% Vitis vinifera background, resulting in new varieties that are resistant to Pierce's disease.
And Cornell technician Steve Luce and graduate student Paola Barba were able to identify two strong DNA loci for phomopsis resistance literally within hours of identifying infected plants, using a marker-based map of the VitisGen vineyard. This unanticipated, rapid and useful result further demonstrates the power of such detailed genetic information.
To date, the VitisGen project has identified more than 70 new marker-trait associations not only for disease resistance, but also for fruit-quality attributes such as anthocyanin modifications, skin color, sugar and acid content. Inexpensive DNA sequencing techniques, establishment of 12 mapping populations, and field/laboratory phenotyping are the resources that made it possible. The payoff of these new markers will be better tools for breeders and more high-quality, disease-resistant varieties in the pipeline for current and future generations of grape-growers.
The full text of this great article, written by VitisGen2 team members  Tim Martinson and Lance Cadle-Davidson and published in the last (December 2018) issue of Wines & Vines, includes an explanation of how marker-trait associations are made.
The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture's NRI-2.0 program builds upon the original National Robotics Initiative (NRI) and is making available up to $35,000,000 in grants to support fundamental research that will accelerate the development and use of collaborative robots that work beside or cooperatively with people (a.k.a. co-robots). The program supports four main research thrusts that are envisioned to advance the goal of ubiquitous co-robots: scalability, customizability, lowering barriers to entry, and societal impact. Collaboration between academic, industry, non-profit, and other organizations is encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science and engineering and technology development, deployment, and use. In addition to the USDA, the NRI-2.0 program is supported by several federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense. Applications are due by February 19, 2019. Get complete details.

January 21, 2019 | The New Yorker
As the world warms, The New Yorker gets creative with common expressions, like this: stop and smell the...flower.
January 19, 2019 | New York Times
What proved to be the country's hottest, driest spring and summer on record gave German winemakers an unbelievable harvest. It's early to make a final judgment on the wines of 2018, but they're celebrating what they believe will prove to be a banner vintage, thanks to climate change.
January 19, 2019 | The Drinks Business
The Champagne region's only 100% organic négociant, Hervé Jestin, winemaker for Champagne Leclerc Briant, says that, as Europe limits the use of copper, a control for downy mildew, organic and biodynamic growers will be scrambling for natural alternatives. A sharp decline in certified wines could ensue.
January 16, 2019 | Morning Ag Clips
Water storage, distribution, conservation and use by California agriculture will be the focus of a new museum in the state's capital, coming in 2020.
January 14, 2019 | Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette
This $35-$50 game simulates farming for crops like wheat, barley, oats, corn and soybeans, but not grapes. It lets you "play" with budgets of up to $1M, factoring in the costs of land, equipment and fertilizer, and even suggesting taking on odd-jobs when you fall short. In this article, the reviewer started his game "with a cool million, which quickly disappeared. It really drives home just how precarious the farmer profession can be."
January 10, 2019 | New York Times
Research published in the journal Science shows that the world's oceans have sustained their hottest years ever for each of the last three years. They absorb 93% of the heat in the atmosphere, buffering the effects of climate change. But warmer oceans mean more powerful hurricanes and more frequent coastal flooding.
January 8, 2019 |
Using CRISPR gene editing, Drs. Nikolay Kandul and Omar Akbari, and their colleagues at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley devised the new "precision-guided sterile insect technique," or pgSIT, to control insect sex determination and fertility. It's a novel, environmentally friendly and relatively low-cost method of controlling pest populations.
December 30, 2018 | Growing Produce
Advances in grapevine tissue culture have promoted the elimination of viruses from plant material, protocols to aid in breeding and genetic manipulation, and more. Also, as it turns out, tissue culture propagation provides a faster, less labor-intensive path for new plants to the vineyard.
December 27, 2018 | Good Fruit Grower
Washington State University plant pathologist Dr. Naidu Rayapati and his team have successfully cloned leafroll 3, the most common and virulent virus that causes leafroll disease. Caused by a group of large, complex viruses, Dr. Rayapati explains, "(the virus) could not be isolated from infected vines or transmitted to healthy ones for research purposes without breaking." Now, armed with copies of it, the researchers can start to explore how it works.
November 27, 2018 | The Royal Society of Chemistry
How does a wine chemist describe winemaking? Dr. Gavin Sacks at Cornell University says it's "a one-pot synthesis taking place under mildly acidic aqueous conditions, at room temperature and in the presence of a mild reducing agent." Doesn't sound very romantic, but to Dr. Sacks and Dr. Andrew Waterhouse at the The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and other wine chemists, these chemical reactions make for a dream job combining a love of science...and wine.
October 3, 2017 | Morsel
From 1886 to 1942, before photography was considered a reliable medium, the  USDA commissioned more than 7,500 paintings, drawings and wax models of fruit cultivars (including 270 grape varieties) then sprouting up nationwide. About 65 American artists contributed to the agency's Pomological Watercolor Collection. Today, artist and activist Parker Higgins is making the works available--one image every three hours--on Twitter. Follow the feed or  browse the entire collection.

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

February 11-14, 2019
Washington Winegrowers 2019 Convention & Trade Show
Includes Research Poster Session February 12
Kennewick, WA

February 12-13, 2019
Oregon Wine Symposium
Por tland, OR

February 12-14, 2019
World Ag Expo
Tulare, CA

February 21, 2019
California Table Grape Seminar
Visalia, CA

February 21-22, 2019
Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research Annual Conference  - CANCELED
Ferndale, WA

February 21-22, 2019
USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum
Arlington, VA

February 21-23, 2019
Pick TN Conference
Franklin, TN

February 27, 2019
UC Davis Current Wine and Winegrape Research
Davis, CA

February 27-March 1, 2019
Henrietta, NY

March 6, 2019
The Dalles, OR

March 19-21, 2019
Eastern Winery Exposition
Syracuse, NY
Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.