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

The ceremonial start of pruning at Veritas Vineyards in Virginia*
Many of us entered the new year with admittedly unrealistic expectations that 2021 would be better than 2020. Immediately! A month in, we're still waiting for the new year to deliver us from the old year we're ready to forget. Obviously, it'll take time for things to unwind. In the meantime, we'll keep our heads down and stay busy. Judging from our first Board meeting of the year, that won't be hard.
In This Issue
Held via Zoom on January 25, NGRA's combined Annual Meeting of the Members and First-of-Year Board Meeting heralded the start of many new projects and initiatives, and new opportunities for engagement for our members.
The top task of the Annual Meeting is the election of officers and Board directors. Accordingly, we are pleased to renew the terms of all four NGRA officers and five Board directors, and to install two new directors on our Board. Thank you and congrats to all, especially those who are new to our Board:
  • Steve Vasquez, Sun-Maid Growers of CaliforniaRaisin Commodity Sector Representative
  • Andrew Meggitt, Missouri Wine & Grape Board (St. James Winery)
    Hybrid/Native Species
    Commodity Sector Representative
Also at the Annual Meeting, members are invited to join committees, where much of our progress is made. Our Development Committee, co-chaired by John Martini (Anthony Road Wine Company) and Jim Anderson (Missouri Wine & Grape Board), will work to better define membership levels and benefits, not only for industry representatives but for the affiliate members (service and equipment providers) we hope to welcome in 2021. And a Planning Committee will form to lay the groundwork for an all-Board, in-person strategic planning meeting in late 2021 or early 2022.
Our First-of-Year Board Meeting was no less momentous. Board members voted to support several new projects, all initiated by our Research Theme Committees and targeted to serve all sectors of our national grape industry. They span issues like in-field nutrition and fruit-quality assessment; broad-spectrum, durable disease resistance; and vineyard soil health monitoring and management. And they include building a national directory of grape-related Extension personnel and drafting a white paper on the state of viticulture and enology extension in America, seeking to understand the evolution of--and funding for--this critical function and local farm advisors as our industry changes. Plus, we heard more about the project--and Ph.D. student--we're sponsoring for our first-ever FFAR Fellowship in 2021, which aims to bring AI to yield forecasting.
So, like I said: No problem staying busy in 2021!
Research is slow magic (a phrase I shamelessly steal from UC Davis economist Julian Alston), and so is the passage of time. Progress will come and some sense of normalcy will return--it all takes time. But in the meantime, maybe February will show us all some love!
Donnell Brown

Veritas Vineyards and Winery writes: St. Vincent is celebrated every year on January 22
as the patron saint of winemakers. It is also fitting that January 22 
is the ideal day for
winegrowers to begin pruning and symbolizes the dormant period of the vines' growing cycle. Raise a glass with us for good luck in the upcoming season and harvest!

We're now seeking sponsorship commitments for the two-day ASEV-NGRA Precision Viticulture Symposium, planned with our colleagues at the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) for June 21-22, 2021, hopefully in person, preceding their national conference in Monterey, CA. The event will focus on research developments in the precision management aspects of pests and diseases, crop estimation and decision support systems, and vine management, and offer grower best practices in applying precision techniques, both in a panel discussion and live demos and tours in the Monterey region. It will feature 22 speakers from around the world, including a keynote presentation by Rob Bramley of CSIRO, who is widely considered the father of precision vit. To make it all happen, we need the help of some generous supporters! Interested in sponsoring this impactful event? Get details!
The fifth-annual Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions to the American grape and wine industry was conferred this month upon Donniella "Donnie" Winchell, Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association (OWPA). The award was given in a surprise presentation by the Smith Family, NGRA, WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America--organizations for which the late Richard "Rich" Smith was a founding member and guiding force. Donnie is the first woman to receive the award.

Donnie has served the OWPA since its founding in 1978, making her the longest-serving leader of a wine trade association in the U.S. She is past chair of the WineAmerica State and Regional Associations Advisory Council. The award was presented during a virtual meeting of this group by her brother, Tony Debevc, founding chair of WineAmerica, who surprised her on location with her plaque. Read more and see video of Donnie receiving the award.
Wine market research expert Jon Moramarco estimates that the wildfires of 2020 will cost the wine industry $3.7 billion in losses that will be felt well into 2023. The estimate, first shared at a conference on January 19 and echoed at this week's Unified Symposium, is based on direct fire damage, rejected fruit and lost sales that Jon expects will peak in 2023. The coming year will be a challenging one, he said, but a recovery will begin and gain momentum in the second half.
As part of its new "Imagine That" campaign, founding NGRA member-organization, Sun-Maid announced this month that it will appoint its first "Board of Imagination," pulling together some of its newly-titled research and development department, insights team and executives with the most imaginative minds--kids. Starting in February, parents will have the opportunity to nominate kids ages 6-12 for one of five open seats on Sun-Maid's Imagination Board. As its first order of business, the Board will grant its employees a paid company holiday, "Imagination Day," on April 30, which is also National Raisin Day. Staff will be encouraged to use the holiday to take part in an activity that will enrich their thinking and enhance their creativity.
Through the Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) program, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) protects against risks to U.S. plant health by overseeing the safe import, interstate movement, and environmental release/field testing of certain organisms developed using genetic engineering. This month, the agency published its 2020 accomplishments, including the milestone publication of the SECURE rule, the first-ever major revision of USDA's biotechnology regulations, which streamlines and modernizes the federal system for approving biotech innovations, providing over $8 million in annual cost savings.
This month, the Washington State Department of Agriculture issued a 16-point amendment to its grape-pest quarantine rule--an effort six years in the making, led, in part by NGRA member-organization Washington Winegrowers. The rule amendment will create a regionally harmonized quarantine for regulatory programs in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. It strengthens the wine and juice industry in the Pacific Northwest by reducing the chances a quarantine pest will be imported on infested grape planting stock and making it easier for planting stock growers to ship material out of state. The changes include adding common grape pests to the quarantine list and requiring a phytosanitary certificate for vines from other states. See all the changes.
The Washington State Wine Commission is asking winegrape growers and wineries in the state to participate in its short 2021 research survey to help identify top wine research priorities. Survey results will guide the annual re-evaluation of priorities by the Commission's Wine Research Advisory Committee. In turn, scientists will use the priority list when developing research proposals and projects, ensuring that wine industry's most important needs are addressed. The statewide viticulture and enology research program awards research grants to scientists at Washington State University as well as grants for demonstrations and other research conducted by Washington community colleges and beyond. Last year, more than $1.2 million was awarded.
University of California Cooperative Extension this month welcomed new area viticulture farm advisor for Kern County, CA, Tian Tian. A native of China, she holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Viticulture and Enology from Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University and California State University, Fresno, respectively, and a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University, Corvallis. Tian is one of nine new UC farm advisors hired in the last six months.
New York City-based wine writer Howard Goldberg, who had countless friends and admirers (including this editor) in the wine business, passed away on January 6. He was 86. Howard was an editor at The New York Times from 1970 to 2004, including 23 years as an editor on the Times' Op-Ed page. He began contributing wine articles in the 1980s, including the Wine Talk and Long Island Vines columns. Howard was editor of The New York Times Book of Wine: More Than 30 Years of Vintage Writing, and wrote for Decanter.
Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY, seeks a postdoctoral professional to collaborate with a team of grape breeders, molecular and quantitative geneticists, bioinformaticians and computer programmers to develop strategies to integrate existing genotyping methodologies and other genomic tools into practice for the purpose of grapevine breeding and genetic studies. The successful candidate will be able to analyze large-scale genotyping data and trait data generated from the NGRA-supported VitisGen project, collaborate with breeders to apply a marker-assisted breeding strategy, and lead the development of peer-reviewed publications. There is no application deadline. Learn more and apply.
The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Oklahoma State University invites applications for a full-time, 11-month, non-tenure track position as Assistant Extension Specialist. A bachelor's degree is required; MS preferred. The successful candidate will establish an effective statewide extension program in viticulture. The deadline to apply is February 8, 2021, and potential start date will be in April 2021. Learn more and apply.

Students graduating from college with ag-related degrees will have no trouble finding jobs, as shown by a report released in December by USDA-NIFA and Purdue University. It shows U.S. college graduates will see about 59,400 job opportunities each year between 2020 and 2025, a 2.6% growth from the previous five years. Best of all (for folks entering the grape and wine industry), employer demand will exceed graduate supply for graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture-related fields.
Approximately 61% of the positions will be filled by graduates with degrees in the areas of food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment (FARNRE), and the other 39% by new graduates with degrees from allied fields (biology, mechanical engineering, accounting, journalism, etc.).
Most of the employment opportunities will be in business and management at 42% and another 31% in science and engineering. Openings in education, communication and government will make up 14%, and 13% will be in food and biomaterials production, with nearly 92% of those jobs going to FARNRE majors.
"This report shows that students across America who are studying food, agriculture and related sciences to take on these challenges have made a sound career choice and will graduate into a strong and growing job market in the years ahead," said Parag Chitnis, then-acting director of NIFA.
Research for the report began before the coronavirus pandemic, when global socio-economic conditions looked much different than they do now. "It was challenging to project the success and perseverance of current college students, let alone the employment opportunities that await new graduates during a global pandemic," said Purdue's Marcos Fernandez, co-PI on the project with Allan Goecker, professor emeritus at Purdue. "Regardless, the project team confidently concludes that the need for graduates and employment opportunities in agricultural fields will remain strong and steady."
Other highlights of the report include:
  • Over the past two decades and across all levels of degree attainment, more females than males have graduated in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment.
  • Some majors attract a greater proportion of female students, including animal sciences, agricultural education, agricultural communication and veterinary medicine.
  • Other majors tend to attract more males, such as agricultural engineering, forestry, agronomy and crop science.
  • There will be a strong demand for graduates with expertise in data science across all disciplines.
  • Expect to see strong employment for specialists in marketing, e-commerce, field technical service, water quality and environment, climate and invasive species, food technology, and environmental and rural policy.
Sharpen your pencils! These grant programs have upcoming deadlines.

FFAR Fellows
The FFAR Fellows program from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) trains cohorts of 16 to 20 Ph.D. students in agriculture, life sciences and related programs from across the U.S. and Canada over a three-year period. Application deadlines for the program's two fellowship categories are: Stipend, February 22 and Professional Development, April 15.

Equipment Grant Program
NIFA's Equipment Grant Program (EGP) serves to increase access to shared-use special purpose equipment/instruments for agricultural sciences' applied research at institutions of higher education, including State Cooperative Extension Systems. It provides opportunities to acquire one piece of major equipment or instruments to support research, training and extension goals, that otherwise may be too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NIFA grant programs. Deadline is March 16, 2021.

Crop Protection and Pest Management
NIFA's Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) program addresses high priority issues related to pests and integrated pest management (IPM) approaches at the state, regional and national levels. CPPM supports projects that ensure food security and respond effectively to major societal pest management challenges as well as IPM challenges for emerging and existing priority pest concerns that can be addressed more effectively with new technologies. Deadline is March 15, 2021.

Organic Transitions
NIFA's Organic Transitions (ORG) program supports the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, and those adopting organic practices. Deadline is March 15, 2021.
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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.

January 25, 2021 | Seven Fifty Daily
Regenerative vs. sustainable viticulture: what's the difference? Say proponents of regenerative farming, "the distinguishing factor is the emphasis on restoration, which translates to a hyper-focus on topsoil and cover crops," which in turn strengthens soil health and resilience to climate change.
January 20, 2021 | Good Fruit Grower
Washington State University soil scientist Deirdre Griffin LaHue is seeking to define soil health as it relates to productivity for vineyards in the Pacific Northwest.
January 20, 2021 | Good Fruit Grower
New Michigan State University viticulture extension educator Esmaeil Nasrollahiazar says that, with its cool climate and sandy soils, Northwest Michigan has the potential to produce the best sparkling wines in the world. Here, he shares management strategies and trellising systems he plans to explore.
January 19, 2021 | KSMU
Missouri State University geneticist and biology professor Laszlo Kovacs collects and preserves wild grape species because they may have critical genes we'll need in the future. In this podcast, he talks about two native North American grapes, "rock" and "riverbank," he believes hold promise.
January 11, 2021 | Beverage Daily
Back in the day, the beverage of choice for Tour de France riders famously was a bottle of red wine. They may have been on to something, a recent review suggests.
January 5, 2021 | Wine Enthusiast
Research by Cal Poly's Federico Casassa compares the performance of old vines (50+ years) vs. young (10 years or less) to define the effects of vine age on grape and wine quality. Most old vines "are dry-farmed, an important aspect in terms of sustainable viticulture," he says, and their deep root structure and stable physiology means they can better adapt to their terroir and are less susceptible to environmental factors like climate change.

January 2, 2021 |The New York Times
A hallmark of Covid infection is the loss of smell and taste, or anosmia. Most patients regain these senses within weeks. But for some, the loss persists. And "derangement of smell" may be part of the recovery process.
January 2021 | California Association of Winegrape Growers
The January edition of The Crush e-zine of the California Association of Winegrape Growers includes a comprehensive cover story on grapevine trunk diseases (GTDs). It includes an overview of 2020 trials by UC Davis' Akif Eskalen on wound protectants and their range of efficacy in preventing GTDs.

January 2021 | Vineyard Team
Check out this free three-part course from the Vineyard Team on Vine Trunk Diseases. Here, expert Dr. Kendra Baumgartner covers the range of results from preventative practices in young vineyards to vine surgery (a.k.a., trunk renewal) in mature vineyards.

December 29, 2020 | AJC
Move over, peaches! As of January 1, Georgia has an official state grape! Three guesses which grape got the vote--no runoffs needed.
December 23, 2020 | The Washington Post
Researchers in Bordeaux are growing more than 50 warm-weather-adapted varieties and mapping microclimates in the region in a bid against climate change. They seek to educate growers on new varieties, new management practices, as well as new site selection. "It's important to show the growers that even remaining in the same place they have some solutions," says Nathalie Ollat of INRAE.
December 22, 2020 | Growing Produce
When wildfires ravaged California last year, their impact to raisin grapes wasn't anticipated. Here, UC Davis cooperative extension specialist Matt Fidelibus explains how "smoke from the fires reduced solar radiation and lowered temperatures during September, when most of California's raisins are drying in vineyards."
December 22, 2020 | Western Farm Press
At the UC Davis Savor series lecture on "California's Vanishing Chardonnay," the focus was on climate change. "One of my concerns," said Larkmead Vineyards winemaker Dan Petroski, "is a quote I heard: 'By 2050, the best grapes in America will be grown in the Rocky Mountains.' We need to think about the next 20-30 years and how climate will impact [us]."
December 22, 2020 | Wine Enthusiast
A wine chemist at the University of Auckland is using discarded tannins to create shelf-life-extending plastics. Because tannins have antioxidant properties that can diminish oxidation and slow spoilage, the new plastics can keep packaged foods fresher.
December 17, 2020 | Vitisphere
In the experimental vineyards at the French Vine and Wine Institute, 2020 trials of electric weeding showed it is as effective as glyphosate, particularly early in the season. Even earthworms fared well in the trials!
December 14, 2020 | Washington State Department of Agriculture
When the Washington State Department of Agriculture found and eradicated the first Asian giant hornet nest last fall, it also made a promising discovery: the first-known detection in the U.S. of Leptopilina japonica, a tiny parasitic wasp that kills spotted wing drosophila.
December 14, 2020 | Plantopia
Tune in to this podcast to hear Cornell University's Katie Gold and Yu Jiang discuss robotic vineyard scouts, hyperspectral sensing, what a plant pathologist gets up to at NASA and more.
December 10, 2020 | WineLand
On December 10, after 10 and 14 months respectively on the International Space Station, 320 grapevines and 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine will return to Earth aboard SpaceX. The mission: to understand the effect of microgravity on complex biological systems and therefore the future of agriculture and food. According to the study, "canes and wine are ideal (as) the canary in the coal mine for agriculture's future on a changing Earth."

January 4, 2020 | Lodi Wine Growers
Did you know that California's first irrigation study was in 1961? Or that the first study of mechanized harvesting took place 31 years ago? This post by viticulturist Stan Grant on the Lodi Winegrowers blog shows how research spurred the development of California's wine industry. Music to our ears!

June 2013 (reviewed May 2017) | Oregon State University
Help your vines start the new year right! Download this guide from Oregon State University's Patty Skinkis on "How to Measure Dormant Pruning Weights." "It's easy to gather this data during routine, annual pruning," Patty writes, and "it's the best way to monitor vine growth and vine size changes caused by vineyard management practices."

Find these stories and more, published daily, on NGRA's Facebook and Twitter feeds.
February 2, 2021
Virtual event

February 3, 2021
Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forum Webinar Series
Thomas Henick-Kling, Washington State University and Peter Bell, Fox Run Vineyards

February 9-11, 2021
Virtual event

February 9-10, 2021
Virtual event

February 10, 2021
Savor: The Science and Mystery of Smell
Renowned food science author Harold McGee and Susan Ebeler, UC Davis

February 15-17, 2021
Virtual event

February 16-19, 2021
Virtual event

February 17, 2021
Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forum Webinar Series
Amaya Atucha, University of Wisconsin and Annie Klodd, University of Minnesota Extension

March 3-5, 2021
Virtual event

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

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 9-18, 2021
Virtual event

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

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

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.