July 2021
Dicamba damage on grape leaves*
On June 28, 2021, NGRA’s Board of Directors held its Mid-Year Meeting, virtually of course. Even with an abbreviated agenda for Zoom, we manage to cover a lot of ground at our Board meetings, and this one was no exceptions. Here are highlights from our June meeting, focusing on what’s new and what we’ve achieved so far in 2021.

Welcome to the Board
The new delegate for long-time NGRA-member the Arkansas Wine Producers Council, Andrew Post (Post Winery), was unanimously elected to join our Board as Southwest Regional Representative. Andrew will serve to convey the research interests of Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Congrats, Andrew!

New Members Invited
A membership structure was adopted for our new affiliate membership category for organizations that support the grape and wine industry with services, supplies and equipment. It sets a minimum annual contribution of $3,000 for affiliates and provides member-only opportunities to underwrite things like this newsletter and private NGRA Board functions, and to receive priority consideration for field trials, demo days and symposia. As Development Committee Co-Chair John Martini (Anthony Road Wine Company) said, “Affiliate members bring a unique and valuable perspective to the issues that affect our industry. Having them ‘in the room’ broadens our conversations about the research we need.” We look forward to onboarding our first affiliate members yet this year.

Mission-Related Milestones
Benchmarking performance against the goals we set in January, Board Chair Russ Smithyman’s Chairman’s report captured the mid-year moment. He noted:

Strategic Planning: A planning committee led by Vicky Scharlau (Washington Winegrowers) this month started to lay the groundwork for an all-Board strategic planning meeting to be held in person, hopefully, in Spring 2022.

  • Our goal to get at least two NGRA-initiated research projects funded is half-met, with one project receiving funding so far this year. The project, “Online Guide to Grapevine Varieties and Rootstocks,” led by Matt Fidelibus and Glenn McGourty, both of University of California Cooperative Extension (Glenn is now emeritus) and initiated by NGRA’s Extension and Outreach Committee, was awarded first-year funding by the American Vineyard Foundation and is now under development.
  • Each of our four Research Theme Committees is refining and/or launching priority projects that emerged from our brainstorming process in 2020. These projects span defining soil health and climate-smart viticulture; seeking the genetic mechanisms for broad-spectrum, durable disease resistance; developing or adapting a fruit quality sensor for use in grapes; and assessing the state of viticulture and enology extension in America in a definitive white paper.

  • With our colleagues at the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, we successfully produced the ASEV-NGRA Precision Viticulture Symposium on June 21, 2021. Now, planning is underway for the event’s demo day in Spring 2022. Between the conference proceedings a few weeks ago and the field day to come, this event seeks to explore the current and future state of precision viticulture, provide two-way dialogue to identify current research gaps, inform future scientific discovery and inspire application of current innovations.
  • And speaking of dialogue, NGRA also initiated a new New-Scientist Engagement Series to introduce industry stakeholders to early-career researchers working in grape, hear about their projects and programs, provide input and offer support. The first installment was in May and second this past Monday.
Russ concluded the meeting by acknowledging NGRA’s strengths. He called out our vibrant mission to facilitate research and newer efforts to expand outreach efforts through events and seminars. Our achievements, he said, all come down to member engagement and a strong ethos of volunteerism. Indeed, as President, I’m just here to make sure the plates keep spinning—our members keep our research mission alive and thriving.

Thank you to our Board of Directors for their robust participation, not only in Board meetings, but in all we do—even in virtual formats.
Donnell Brown
In June 2020, Annie Klodd, Extension Educator for Fruit Production at University of Minnesota, started getting calls and text messages about deformed and discolored leaves. As she wrote in her weekly blog, this photo is an example of dicamba drift. See related story from Texas below.

Help Shape AVF Research Priorities
The American Vineyard Foundation (AVF) invites grape and wine representatives to rank the industry’s top research priorities to help guide AVF’s research review committees in recommending which projects to fund. Please participate! The online survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Viticulture and enology issues are grouped together into subcategories; you may complete each section independently or do both, as you see fit. Responses are due by August 20, 2021.
Grape Industry Boards Get New Leaders
Congratulations—and thank you—to the industry stakeholders taking on leadership roles at these NGRA member-organizations:

  • Wine Institute: Suzanne Groth, President and CEO of Groth Vineyards & Winery, is the newly elected Board Chairman for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Ms. Groth has been President and CEO of her family’s business since 2017, and has been a member of Wine Institute since 1984 and has served on its Board since 2014.
  • Welch’s: Newly appointed Board member Nital Scott brings Welch's board to 12 members. Ms. Scott has been the Chief Financial Officer at Beautycounter since 2014 and, prior, served as vice president of the investment banking division, consumer sector for Goldman Sachs. 
Texas Grape Growers Fight Dicamba Damage
Fifty-seven vineyards and processors in the High Plains AVA in Texas are suing Bayer-Monsanto and BASF over damage caused by a defective GMO seed system that uses the highly volatile, drift-prone dicamba herbicide. Roxanne Myers, President of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, said the lawsuit underscores ongoing concerns about the continuing use of dicamba-based products by Texas row crop farmers on the production and quality of Texas wine. Dicamba, which easily turns into a gas and can move miles away from where it is applied, can be lethal to grapevines. 
Washington’s New Website and Research Priorities
The Washington Wine Commission, an NGRA member-organization, will launch a new website on August 2, to coincide with the kickoff to Washington Wine Month. Get a sneak peek! Among the enhancements, the website now features a terrific new Research Library, which houses research reports, articles, WAVE (Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology) presentations, webinar recordings and more. It’s searchable by topic and allows for downloads of full articles and reports.

In addition to the new website, the Commission has renewed its research priorities. Generated from industry input via annual Research Survey and approved by the Commission’s Wine Research Advisory Committee last month, the 2021-22 list is dominated by sustainability issues. Research priorities drive the research program and ensure that research projects are relevant to industry needs.
FFAR Executive Director to Retire
Following a long and distinguished career in agricultural and biomedical research administration, Dr. Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), announced her plan to retire at the end of 2021. Dr. Rockey joined FFAR in 2015, as the organization’s inaugural Executive Director and led FFAR through its startup phase, ultimately overseeing awards of more than 200 grants totaling more than $650 million to advance food and agriculture research. The FFAR Board of Directors is beginning the search process and hopes to identify a new executive director by the end of the year.
New Hort Dept Heads at Texas A&M and (Interim) WSU
Following the retirement of Dr. Dan Lineberger earlier this year, Dr. Amit Dhingra will become the new Horticulture Department head at Texas A&M University, effective September 1, 2021. Previously, he was interim chair and professor of Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Horticulture at Washington State University. Professor and plant scientist Doreen Main resumed her role leading WSU’s Department of Horticulture on an interim basis this month, following Dr. Dhingra’s departure.
UC ANR Recruiting for 10 Extension Jobs
After three years of limited hiring due to budget constraints, a “transformational” budget increase will help rebuild UC Cooperative Extension, said Glenda Humiston, UC Vice President for UC ANR. Twenty UC Cooperative Extension positions are designated as critically urgent to fill, but to avoid overwhelming UC ANR’s Human Resources staff, they're being announced in two groups. The first 10 openings include these grape-related jobs:

  • Plant Pathology Area Advisor, Santa Cruz County
  • Soils and Irrigation Advisor, Kern County
  • Urban Agriculture/Small Farms Area Advisor, San Bernardino County
  • Diversified Agricultural Systems Area Advisor, Lake County
  • Integrated Vineyard Systems Area Advisor, at Hopland Research and Extension Center

The other 10 positions of the 20 will be released in late September. Search UC ANR jobs.
California's Green Medal Awards Announced
Raise a glass to California's 2021 Green Medal Awards, recognizing the state's growers and vintners for leadership in sustainability. This year's honorees are:

  • O'Neill Vintners & Distillers - Leader Award
  • Trinchero Family Estates - Business Award
  • Shannon Ridge Family of Wines - Environment Award
  • Boisset Collection - Community Award

Considering the volume of competition, the awards are significant: More than 80% of California wine is made in a Certified California Sustainable Winery. More than half of the state’s winegrape acreage is certified as Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES, Napa Green or SIP Certified.
Recognize Extraordinary Contributions to Ag Research
Nominations are being accepted now through October 4, 2021, for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Prize in Food & Agriculture Sciences, which recognizes research by a mid-career scientist at a U.S. institution who has made an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production. Annually, the prize is awarded to one recipient, who receives a medal and a $100,000 cash award. The recipient will be announced in January 2022.
FRAME Networks Launches Fungicide Resistance Dashboard
The FRAME (Fungicide Resistance Assessment, Mitigation and Extension) Networks project has launched a grape powdery mildew fungicide resistance dashboard. Browse resistance by state, grape category, region or all.
A team of UC Davis researchers led by Beth Forrestel, assistant professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, is working to modernize the Winkler Index, which classifies the climate of wine growing regions and helps growers determine which grape varieties are best suited for a given area. The seminal original work by UC Davis professors A.J. Winkler and Maynard Amerine was instrumental in providing a guide to help wine growers revive California’s wine industry in the 1940s following the repeal of Prohibition. It eventually became the standard climate tool used for winegrape growing worldwide.

Using thousands of index cards to record their field data, Drs. Winkler and Amerine calculated average daily temperatures throughout the growing season to identify five climate regions, from coolest (Region I) to warmest (Region V). Climate change, and the rising temperatures and erratic weather that come with it, has already limited the accuracy of these regional classifications. Napa Valley, for example, was considered Region II when the Winkler Index was developed. Now, most parts are a Region III or IV. UC Davis students are digitizing the cards and using them to create a visual tool to show the movement of California’s viticultural regions through the classifications over time.

“There is a renewed interest by industry and stakeholders to understand how to best mitigate climate change effects on existing vineyards and choose appropriate cultivars for the future,” Beth said. “The new methods and data sources we’re bringing to this project will help us do just that.”

“Because we are in a period of climate change, we need more refined and comprehensive ways of measuring the effect of heat on plant physiology and grape maturity,” said Napa Valley winemaker Warren Winiarski, founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars who is helping to fund the research. “The development of new methods of measurement would be extraordinarily helpful. With better knowledge of changes in the compositional elements in the grapes in the vineyard, we’ll have better guidance on how to respond in the winery and create the wines we want to make.”

New technology, more accuracy
Sophisticated monitoring technology and remote sensing data will help move beyond average climate conditions to paint a fuller picture of the environmental factors that most significantly affect plant growth, berry chemistry and, ultimately, wine quality.
Even though smoke, wildfires and pandemic-induced restrictions presented formidable obstacles to field research in 2020, the initial year of the study, Beth reports the project is gaining momentum. Data this season will be collected from Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon vineyards to document conditions in its many microclimates. Information will be gathered on a wide range of factors, such as light intensity within the grapevine canopy, soil characteristics, field-specific irrigation practices, estimated water use, berry chemistry, temperature and physiology—all things that ultimately have a bearing on wine quality. Heat stress is a particular concern.

While the initial focus is on cabernet sauvignon, the most widely grown and economically important wine grape variety in the world, the project is expanding to other cultivars as well. A study analyzing the comparative biochemistry of wine grape berries in 24 commonly planted varieties is underway, as well.

Additionally, two study blocks of 60 wine grape cultivars were planted this spring at UC Davis and at the university’s Oakville field station. These and some commercial vineyards—a number of Napa growers and winemakers have raised their hands to serve as collaborators, providing data from their own weather stations—will be used to compare wine grape performance and to update models of plant development and biochemical responses to heat accumulation. This study, which was modeled on the VitAdapt long-term cultivar trial in Bordeaux, France, is planned to be replicated with the same rootstock and common cultivars Adelaide, Australia, and Lodi, CA, as part of an international climate adaptation initiative.

Data for today…and tomorrow
Beth says the project will give growers the knowledge they need to take appropriate management actions like modifying irrigation practices right now. But she’s working with an eye toward a hotter future. “The establishment of a new index and the development of new models of grapevine and berry development will provide guidance for the viticulture and wine industry to cope with current and future climate, manage existing vineyards, and make decisions on future plantings and winemaking choices,” she said.
This article was excerpted from these original publications from UC Davis:

Speak at the AWITC in 2022
The Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference (AWITC), taking place in Adelaide, June 26-29, 2022, seeks expressions of interest from speakers to convene workshops there. Approximately 30 workshops will be staged, covering a range of themes, on Sunday, June 26, 2022. Each workshop will run for a maximum of 2.5 hours. Convenors will receive one complimentary registration to the conference. Expressions of interest are due by August 13, 2021. Start your application!
Funding Opportunities
Sharpen your pencils! These grant programs have upcoming deadlines.
SCBG H.R. 133 Stimulus Funding
In addition to the regular Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program funding authorized by the Farm Bill, Congress has awarded additional one-time funding to State Departments of Agriculture due to the COVID-19 impacts on the food system under House Resolution 133. Starting in August 2021, applications are coming due for this H.R. 133 Stimulus Funding by state. Click to our listing of SCBG deadlines to see when to apply in your state and get specifics on allowable projects.

Organic Farming Research Foundation
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (ORFR) is now accepting letters of intent for its research grant program. This grant cycle, OFRF is prioritizing applications from early career researchers and those who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; farmers and ranchers may apply. OFRF will fund up to $20,000 for one year of research for projects that fall under at least one of its six research priority areas: soil health; weed, pest and disease management; resilient cultivars; livestock and poultry; social science; and/or resilience. Project submissions may be research-based or integrated (research, education and/or extension). Applications are due on August 20, 2021. Learn more.

National Clean Plant Network
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) invites applications for fiscal year 2022 Plant Protection Act Section 7721 funding, including proposals for the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). The network of clean plant centers provides diagnostic and pathogen elimination services to produce clean propagative plant material and maintain blocks of pathogen-tested plant material in sites throughout the U.S. The deadline to apply for NCPN funding is August 27, 2021. Learn more.
July 21, 2021 | Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium
When it comes to pesticide labeling, muscadine grapes are included with all other grapes. But most new products have never been tested on muscadines. Are they effective on these southern species? Is there risk of spray injury? With funding from the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium, a team of scientists from NC State University and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences got answers.

July 19, 2021 | Western Farm Press
Know someone who's moving from Pennsylvania to California? Their lawn furniture may have to stay behind.

July 17, 2021 | Venture Beat
Following the pandemic and facing climate change, worker shortages and other challenges that will only grow more intense, agriculture is ripe for disruption. But for any innovation to take hold, it must solve a huge problem and do so in a repeatable way that can integrate (or at least not interfere) with a farm’s workflow.

July 15, 2021 | Vineyard Team
Deficit irrigation is used to keep wine grapes (esp. reds) small and concentrate their flavor. But in this Vineyard Team podcast, Joan Davenport, emeritus professor and soil scientist at Washington State University points to some unintended consequences on soil quality.

July 15, 2021 | Good Fruit Grower
Grant applications for research, and lobbying and marketing efforts all rely on crop data. But to gain efficiencies, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service now surveys only the majority of acreage which, for grapes, means only CA and WA. In effect, with this change, the $155M industry in OR, $63M industry in NY and others "didn't count anymore."

July 12, 2021 | Western Farm Press
Not grape research...yet: A startup called InnerPlant is developing "elite genetics" that can be embedded in plants that, when triggered by fungal or insect stress, will generate a protein in the leaves that can be detected by sensors. In this way, "the plant becomes the sensor," they say. InnerPlant is focusing on cotton and soybeans, and beginning work with seed companies.

July 9, 2021 | Growing Produce
Columbine Vineyards is the first table grape grower to be certified sustainable, thanks to its efforts to conserve water, sequester carbon and slash the use of Styrofoam. With certification by SCS Global, Columbine products like Holiday grapes can now carry the SCS Kingfisher Sustainably Grown seal.

July 8, 2021 | Wine Industry Network
In a legal analysis of winery rejections of contracted fruit, the California Association of Winegrape Growers and Allied Grape Growers underscore the need for more research on the effects of smoke exposure on grapes.

July 8, 2021 | Western Farm Press
Testing for grapevine red blotch virus can be tricky. Research led by Oregon State University's Patty Skinkis shows that “testing is not black or white and the timing of testing is absolutely critical." Samples taken from post-harvest to pruning will be most accurate.

July 8, 2021 | Western Farm Press
Cornell University's Katie Gold maintains four acres of "pathology vineyards" to test technologies like the novel dsRNA-based biopesticides, and robotics and remote sensing tools to assess and manage disease.

July 7, 2021 | Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research
If climate change is extending the grape-growing season, can vinifera growers achieve a second, late ripening crop? New research from Italy proposes an innovative double-cropping technique for temperate climate areas.

July 6, 2021 | Western Farmer-Stockman
The Washington State Department of Agriculture reported catching 415 Japanese beetles on June 29, the first day of checking the traps in the Yakima River Valley. Other western states, including Wyoming, Utah and Montana, also are seeing populations of the invasive pest that skeletonizes foliage.

July 6, 2021 | Food & Wine
New research points to the "apparent paradox" that global warming is increasing the probability of frost damage in vineyards. That is, the likelihood of early budbreak is increasing at a rate faster than the decrease in potential spring cold spells.

July 4, 2021 | Bloomberg Opinion
"In the American West since 2000, an area larger than California has burned. In the past six years, in (California) wine country, there were 23 major fires totaling nearly 1.5 million acres...(an area) larger than Rhode Island," according to this op-ed. The question is, "will climate change ruin one of the most beautiful (and lucrative) valleys in the world?"

July 4, 2021 | Science & Wine
Are there differences in grapevines' responses to powdery mildew infection at different stages of ripening? And can changes in ripening processes signal early stages of infection? New research from Portugal explores these questions.

July 2, 2021 | Wine Business Monthly
A years-long study of Malbec from multiple locations in the U.S. and Argentina spanning multiple vintages and measuring 27 compounds found that "terroir is a thing that we can objectively measure," according to Fernando Buscema, then of UC Davis, who was instrumental in the work.

June 30, 2021 | Courthouse News Service
Researchers at the University of Adelaide and E. & J. Gallo Winery found that, by delaying the ripening process, grapes don’t take on undesirable stress-related traits, even under increasingly suboptimal conditions. Two techniques, together, decelerate ripening, they say: increased pruning and late-stage watering.

June 28, 2021 | Farm Progress
Wondering if it's worth investing in new farming practices to take advantage of carbon credits? You're not alone.

June 28, 2021 | Vitisphere
The four newly developed French varieties resistant to fungal diseases have been officially affiliated with Vitis vinifera L. by the country's Community Plant Variety Office. The new categorization paves the way for planting in appellation vineyards--a move that was previously unthinkable. "Acceptance by the CPVO is a gateway to a new perspective,” said one French official.

June 28, 2021 | Stuff
Using AI analysis via a tractor-mounted "digital eye," Cropsy, new tech by a team of young New Zealand engineers, can count bunches of grapes on vines to estimate yield and detect disease and pest problems, too. It was unveiled to NZ growers this month, winning two awards and cash to further develop the tech.

January 20, 2021 | California Table Grape Commission
Hot new research from the University of Alabama shows that consuming grapes can build resistance to sunburn. A diet of 2.25 cups of table grapes per day increased the minimum level of exposure required to cause sun damage by an average of nearly 75%.

Find these stories and more, published daily, on NGRA's Facebook and Twitter feeds.
August 5, 2021
Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVEx) Webinar Series
Charles Edwards, Washington State University

August 5-9, 2021
Denver, CO

August 10, 2021
Virtual event

August 11-12, 2021
Virtual event

September 7, 2021
Virtual event

September 7, 2021
Lodi, CA

October 31-November 5, 2021
Virtual event

November 18, 2021
NGRA End-of-Year Board Meeting
Via Zoom

November 30-December 2, 2021
Montpellier, France

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.

This monthly newsletter is provided as a service to the U.S. grape and wine industry.
If you're not a member of NGRA, please consider joining us.