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

Jerry Lohr (left, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines) asks a question of the data integration panel*
at the 
NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop
T he National Grape Research Alliance holds three Board meetings each year, the last typically in November. Accordingly, our End-of-Year Board Meeting took place on November 14, the day after the NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop (see story below). With back-to-back day-long discussions on research to advance the grape and wine industry, it was a banner week for viticulture in the United States!
In This Issue
At our End-of-Year meeting, we annually review the progress we made over the last 12 months. And I'm proud to say that, through the active participation of our Board and committees, 2019 was a very productive year.  Here are some highlights, focused on our research mission.

With engagement from scientists from across the US and support from planning grants from the NGRA Research Fund, our Research Theme Committees identified and developed three research projects this year, each targeted to a relevant grant program for prospective funding in 2020:
  • High-Resolution Grape and Grapevine Nutrient-Management Tools, led by Markus Keller of Washington State University
  • Functional Grapevine Genomics for Insect Pest Resistance, led by Matt Clark of University of Minnesota
  • Evaluating Plant Performance Models as a Tool to Guide Selection for Heat Tolerance in Grapevines, led by Megan Bartlett of the University of California-Davis
An extension project,  Guides to Rootstock or Scion Performance,  led by Matt Fidelibus and Glenn McGourty, both of University of California Cooperative Extension, is planned for development next year.
We also continued to nurture three NGRA-supported research projects:
  • Ag-RISCS: Risk Inference, Simulation and Cyber-physical System for Converting Data to Actionable Information in Viticulture, led by Walt Mahaffee of USDA-ARS, Corvallis, OR, submitted to SCRI for funding this fall
  • VitisGen2, led by Bruce Reisch of Cornell University and Lance Cadle-Davidson of USDA-ARS, Geneva, NY, midway through an SCRI grant
  • Efficient Vineyard, led by Terry Bates of Cornell University, also funded by SCRI, concluded this year

Of course, none of this work would be possible without our members. If you've ever thought about joining NGRA, I invite you to click to the new membership page on our website, where you can get details about being a part of our research agenda. If you like what you see, hit reply on this email and let me know if/how you might like to get involved!

Donnell Brown
*In the photo above, speakers are (from left) Nicole Kaplan (USDA-ARS), Jennifer Carter (USDA-ARS),
Mike Buser (USDA-ARS), Brian Bailey (UC Davis) and Ken Sudduth (USDA-ARS).
The next annual National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership Conference (NVEELC), produced as always with support by NGRA, will be held April 26-29, 2020, in Ithaca, NY. 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. If you're an outreach or extension specialist in the grape and wine industry, mark your calendar! More details to come.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, with partial funding from the  High Plains Winegrowers Associationis delivering a new Bud Cold Hardiness report for the Texas High Plains AVA. Modeled on the Vine Alert program at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Ontario's Brock University, the report provides real-time monitoring of critical temperatures for the region's most common and most susceptible varieties to cold damage, now through mid-April.
Our condolences to the Missouri grape and wine industry on the passage of Jim Held, founder of Stone Hill Winery. Jim helped to pioneer the retail wine regulations in Missouri and, with his wife, Betty Ann, and family, preserved what was once (pre-Prohibition) the second-largest winery in the nation.
Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Acting Chief Scientist, was recently  inducted as a fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration  (NAPA). Here, she talks about the honor and the critical research ARS conducts, including the "constant treasure hunt for (genetic) traits" in the enviable germplasm collections ARS maintains (including for grape). Congrats, Dr. Jacobs-Young!
If you're a winegrower in the US, researchers in Europe want to hear from you! The EU-funded international climate study called  LIFE-ADVICLIM  (Adaptation of Viticulture to Climate Change) seeks to consider the future of wine in a warming world. Winegrowers from 22 wine-producing countries are being polled about their perceptions of the changing environment and efforts to adapt their practices and techniques to its impacts. Study findings will be shared with NGRA and other participating institutions and will help to enable sustainable research and policy efforts for the wine sector.  Take the survey. 
Applications are accepted now through January 24 for the 2020 California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. California vineyards and wineries that participate in a sustainability program are eligible to apply. Four awards recognize outstanding achievement in sustainability: Environment Award, Community Award, Business Award and Sustainable Winegrowing Leader Award. The awards are presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Wine Institute, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team.
New legislation  from Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) would establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Terra (ARPA-Terra) within USDA. ARPA-Terra would provide funding to land-grant universities for early stage research on technologies that industry might not undertake due to existing long-term and high-risk technological barriers. The agency will enable the US to develop technologies--and have farmers and ranchers implement them--to enhance export competitiveness, environmental sustainability and crop resilience to extreme weather.

The NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop took place here in Sacramento on November 13. From the soil to space, 30 speakers shared their insights on sensors and data applications for viticulture in a day of drinking-from-a-firehose learning for all 140 growers and scientists in the room. (See photo above.) Here are some key takeaways:
Learn all you can...and find experts you trust. Sensors are fast becoming critical farming tools, but many remain wildly expensive. Before you invest, said Utah State professor emeritus Mac McKee, endeavor to understand the technology and find well-informed, objective people who can help you get the tech you need.
NASA cares about ag. Forrest Melton of Cal State Monterey Bay and the NASA Ames Research Center shared the agency's OpenET project, which aims to provide open and easily accessible satellite-based evapotranspiration (ET) data for water management for all irrigated agriculture, including grapes. Who says NASA is only interested in space?
Sensor-based irrigation management holds great promise. NASA is a major collaborator with the USDA-ARS on GRAPEX (the Grape Remote sensing Atmospheric Profile & Evapotranspiration eXperiment). This hugely ambitious project seeks to develop a multi-scale remote-sensing ET toolkit for mapping water use and stress for irrigation scheduling and water management in vineyards in California's Central Valley--a model system for regions with endemic periodic drought. USDA-ARS' Bill Kustas, Martha Anderson and others  shared their work on this project. The number and kind of sensor data being applied to irrigation management is mind-boggling. But ARS' Kyle Knipper is working on an operational dashboard for irrigation scheduling, which will someday put the awesome power of this technology in growers' hands.
No bug too small. Although sensor technologies are comparatively more advanced for irrigation and canopy management, work is under way to apply sensors to pests and diseases. Jana Lee of USDA-ARS illustrated sensors that can identify (and zap!) insects by their wing-beats. Kam Leang of University of Utah demonstrated others that can detect "plumes" of insects based on their pheromones. But ARS' Tim Gottwald stole the show with his nearly instantaneous and highly accurate disease-sniffing dogs--a totally different kind of "sensor."
Spectrum matters. Kaitlin (Katie) Gold of Cornell University and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab shared her incredibly helpful Cheatsheet on Agricultural Light Sensors for Grape Disease Management . It demonstrates the differences in the light range of digital cameras, multi- and hyperspectral, thermal and LiDAR sensors, and what they can detect as a result. It goes a long way toward point #1 above.
Data is in the eye of the beholder. More inputs yield more data. But as UC Davis' Brian Bailey said, "Data in isolation is not that useful in decision-making." It's important that you know what you want or need from data, then find solutions that can help you get answers.


Don't miss these opportunities to learn about and from new, ongoing research!

December 10, 2019
Vitis Gen2 Webinar: (Some of) the Economics of Grape Varietal Innovations
Join Drs. Julian Alston and Olena Sambucci of UC Davis for an overview of the basic economics of grape varietal innovations and how they inform the Trait Economics element of VitisGen2. This will be a first look at new work the team has under way, focusing on consumer and producer demand for new table grape varieties. Free.
Register here.

December 11, 2019
Vineyard Powdery Mildew Management & Fungicide Resistance Prevention Workshop
Join researchers from the SCRI-funded FRAME (Fungicide Resistance Assessment, Mitigation and Extension) project for a full-day in-person event in Salem, OR. Here, you'll learn in-depth information about powdery mildew biology and management, and how to prevent powdery mildew from forming resistance to the fungicides in your disease management toolbox. Lunch, refreshments, and printed materials will be provided. The workshop is hosted and sponsored by Oregon State University Viticulture Extension and the Oregon Wine Research Institute at OSU. $75. 

November 19, 2019 | Science Daily
Scientists from The University of Adelaide have taken a major step in understanding the synthesis of tartaric acid in wine grapes. Step one was discovery (with UC Davis scientists in 2006) of the first enzyme in the six-step pathway from ascorbic acid to tartaric acid. Now a second enzyme has been identified and defined. The research could ultimately lead to millions in cost savings in tartaric acid additions in the winemaking process.
November 19, 2019 | Wine Business Monthly
"The grapevines are telling us that the climate is changing," Greg Jones, of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield College, told attendees at the 2019 Sustainable Ag Expo. Growers should expect to grow grapes in warmer conditions in the years to come and anticipate longer growing seasons-and warming trends are only expected to accelerate, he said. In his own home wine region, the Willamette Valley, known for its Pinot Noir, he noted that growers might experience a rise in temperatures of 2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit between 2040 and 2060, based on his research. Other varieties will be more suitable for the region, according to his models.
November 15, 2019 | Wine Business Monthly
At this year's Rootstock, organized by Napa Valley Grapegrowers, improving soil health and preserving biodiversity were presented as important tools to help fight climate change. Julien Gervreau of Jackson Family Wines reported on the winery's carbon sequestration efforts and plans to restore the soil's water-holding capacity. As one speaker observed, the wine industry "has a great opportunity to be a leader on climate change."
November 14, 2019 | Good Fruit Grower
At the annual Washington State Grape Society meeting, phylloxera was top-of-mind for growers--not only the outbreak on the state's traditionally own-rooted vines, but also management strategies and new research ideas. Harvest tonnage for both juice and winegrapes also were hot topics.
November 14, 2019 | The Economist
Heading to Milan? If so, go stroll the recreation of the vineyard of Leonardo da Vinci, given to him as payment for the painting, "The Last Supper." Geneticists ID'ed the vines, lost in WWII, as Malvasia di Candia Aromatica and replanted the vineyard with the variety. Its first vintage goes to auction later this year. A sip might inspire a mysterious Mona Lisa smile...
November 13, 2019 | The Guardian
A new report by a leading UK ecologist suggests that half of all insects may have been lost since 1970 due to the destruction of habitats and increase in pesticides. For example, 23 bee and wasp species have become extinct, while the number of pesticide applications has approximately doubled in the last 25 years. The report says 40% of the 1 million known insect species face extinction. But conservationists say insect populations can be rescued through reduced use of pesticides and more wildlife-friendly farms and gardens.
November 12, 2019 | Good Fruit Grower
Raise a glass to Marquette, which has just been added to the VQA Ontario classification. That puts the red grape variety developed by the University of Minnesota shoulder-to-shoulder with traditional vinifera varieties. Marquette's cold-hardiness makes it suitable for northern regions like Ontario and Minnesota. "People like wines because they are of the place they are produced, and local and regionally produced wines [like Marquette] can do just that," says University of Minnesota grape breeder Matt Clark.
November 11, 2019 | Lodi Growers
Brendan Rockey of Colorado's Rockey Farms recounts how his uncle Verlin, a rocket scientist, restored the soil on his family's farm 20 years ago-and how, today, it's thriving. He writes: "We've figured out that if you want potatoes, you have to plant peas, along with buckwheat, radishes and turnips, and about a dozen other crops that live in partnership with each other. They help break down hard soil, encouraging the right bugs and discouraging the wrong ones. We call these other crops 'green manure,' and their job is to feed the soil, which then feeds the potatoes, which then feed us."
November 5, 2019 | UC Davis UNFOLD
This new podcast from UC Davis highlights "The Father of Wine," Maynard Amerine. The pioneering wine scientist, who passed away in 1998, co-developed the Winkler Index, used to determine optimal winegrape growing regions, and helped to develop an objective way of judging wine quality, elevating the market for wine. Enjoy the Big Band sounds of the 1930s as Axel Borg, subject specialist librarian at the university's Peter Shields Library, sheds light on Dr. Amerine's game-changing work.
October 31, 2019 | Good Fruit Grower
Was 2019 a bad/good year for powdery mildew in your vineyard? Are you rethinking your management plan for 2020? Start with the three key traits for growth of the fungus, as outlined here by the FRAME (Fungicide Resistance Assessment, Mitigation and Extension) Network for wine, table and raisin grapes.
October 27, 2019 | Newsday
Extension agent Alice Wise of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is at the front line, helping to guide Long Island winemakers as they consider varieties for a future whose climate (like everyone's) is changing. Alice is quoted: "Because we [on Long Island] started much cooler than the West Coast, it's [a warming climate] gotten us to the point where we're producing better wine. We know how to grow grapes much better than we used to. We have better rootstocks, disease control information is better. It's a great confluence of events happening here now, and we're capitalizing on that." Read the full story for a great example of the critical role of viticulture extension.
October 15, 2019 |
Scientists at the University of Georgia and North Carolina State University have discovered that muscadine grapes are susceptible to plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN)--seven of them, in fact. They also found differences in in the PPN communities in their two states, suggesting that vineyard management may play a role.
October 3, 2019 | Vineyard Team
Tune in to hear Fresno State's Luca Brillante discuss his current research on efficient management solutions through digital viticulture, improved accuracy and cost reduction with automation, and how he's teaching the next generation of viticulturists about sustainable wine production.
September 19, 2019 | UC Riverside
The spotted lanternfly hasn't landed in California...yet. In this beautifully produced video, Mark Hoddle and other members of the entomology team at UC Riverside explain the lengths (or in this case, heights) they're going to to put in place a biological control program to suppress the pest when/if it arrives.

  Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.
January 8, 2020
Easton, CA

January 14-16, 2020
Seattle, WA
January 14: Optional pre-conference tech talk,  Leading-Edge Precision in Viticulture,  at NGRA member Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA

February 3, 2020
Annual Meeting of the Members & First-of-Year Board Meeting
Sacramento, CA

February 4-6, 2020
S acramento, 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 11-12, 2020
Portland, OR

February 11-13, 2020
Tulare, CA

February 20-22, 2020
Rochester, MN

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
Irving, TX

March 10-12, 2020
Lancaster, PA

March 19, 2020
Fredonia, NY

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.