February 2020
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

NGRA's just-elected officers (left to right): Russ Smithyman, Allison Jordan, Dan Martinez and Tony Stephen*
Even though, as a leap year, 2020 gave February an extra day, this month passed in the blink of an eye. But fast does not mean uneventful. February saw the official kickoff of the growing season with budbreak in many vineyards around the country, even as their growers gathered in industry conferences to learn, network and grow themselves. And it was the start of a new season for NGRA, too, with new leaders taking the helm.
In This Issue
At our Annual Meeting of the Members and First-of-Year Board Meeting on February 3, NGRA members elected (or re-elected) officers and Board directors. The leaders now serving in officer roles are shown above and  their bios are online:
  • Chairman: Russell (Russ) Smithyman, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Washington, succeeding Tony Stephen, American Vineyard Foundation
  • Vice Chair: Allison Jordan, Wine Institute, California, succeeding Tom Smith, E. & J. Gallo Winery
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Dan Martinez, Martinez Orchards, California, re-elected
  • Past Chair: Tony Stephen, American Vineyard Foundation, California, succeeding John Aguirre, California Association of Winegrape Growers
About a third of NGRA's Board of Directors, comprised of 28 Commodity Sector, Regional and At-Large Representatives from across the U.S., is elected each year, as well. At our February 3 meeting, eight directors were either newly or re-elected. Congrats to our just-elected officers and directors, and thanks to our entire Board!  We couldn't fulfill our research mission without your strong support!
As 2020 progresses, we have a whole growing season ahead of us--in the field, in our roles and in the delivery on our goals. It's been a fast start for us, but rich with opportunities to learn and lead. Let's keep growing!

Donnell Brown

P.S. As you can see from the  complete list of NGRA Board directors,  we have a vacancy for a Native/Hybrid Species Commodity Sector Representative. If you're not yet an NGRA member and could represent the industry and its research interests for this important grape sector, we'd love to hear from you!
*Photo credit: Christina Best Photography
Tickets are on sale now for the  2020 National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership Conference  (NVEELC)! To be held April 26-28, in Ithaca, NY, NVEELC 2020 is co-chaired by Anna Katharine Mansfield and Hans Walter-Peterson of Cornell University. Designed by and for extension and outreach professionals, the event is supported annually by NGRA. This year's NVEELC will be packed with professional development and networking opportunities, and inspiring and informative tours in and around Cornell's world-class viticulture and enology facilities and at partner locations. Travel scholarship applications are now being accepted (due March 27) from extension specialists from land-grant universities who have insufficient funds to cover travel to the event. Find the travel scholarship application, registration and hotel info here. Use the same link to find details on sponsoring the event!
NGRA seeks to ensure that much-needed research is put in motion ongoingly, particularly in the areas of greatest industry need. If you're a scientist working in grape, we value your efforts! We invite you to review the NGRA research priorities and use our new web portal to request letters of support for research projects you're proposing to grant-funding agencies. The portal will guide you through all the information needed to make a complete request, which must be received no less than two weeks prior to the deadline for the grant program to which you're applying. Also note that NGRA requires an advisory role in all projects for which letters of support are given--we put a high priority on projects we support and commit to playing an active an engaged role!
In a surprise presentation on February 5, the fourth-annual Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award for major contributions to the American grape and wine industry was given to NGRA Board member Jim Trezise. Jim is former President of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation and current President of WineAmerica. The Smith Family gave the award during the Annual Leadership Luncheon of the Winegrape Growers of America, which co-sponsors the award with NGRA and WineAmerica. The late Rich Smith was a founding member and guiding force in all three groups. Click to read more about Jim's service to the industry and see video of him receiving the award.
Faculty members, researchers and extension specialists in South Dakota State University's College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences were recognized this month at the university's annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence, and NGRA Research Committee member Dr. Anne Fennell was among them. A professor in the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science, Anne was there named a distinguished professor, "the university's ultimate academic recognition presented to those who have reached the pinnacle of their careers through distinguished performance and national or international recognition," according to SDSU President Barry H. Dunn. Among the accolades cited for the honor ( read them all here), this one strikes a chord: Anne has served as a principal investigator or co-PI on $44.67 million in national research projects. Congratulations and thank you, Anne, for your leadership in advancing research for the grape and wine industry!
The new Grapevine Disorders Pocket Guide for Growers in Texas is the first of its kind for the Lone Star State's burgeoning grape and wine industry. The viticulture team of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service scoured vineyards in every AVA for photos of common and uncommon disorders as well as benign occurrences of pathogens. After a year of development, this guide comes to full-color life with more than 200 high-quality images in a durable, pocket-size format. Snag your copy at
Open any of the five reports (links below) released last month by the National Science Foundation and you'll discover new (though not necessarily surprising) insights about the state of research funding in America: which institutions are doing it, what kind of research they're doing and the proportion of private to public monies directed at R&D.

In the report, "Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development," we see (via chart) that the USDA's spending on research has been roughly flat since 2008. But the report, "Academic Research and Development," tells us "the federal government (overall) is the largest funder of academic R&D, providing more than half of total funds in 2018. After several years of declining funding levels, federal funding for academic R&D has increased by 5% since 2015 in inflation-adjusted dollars."
Also of interest from this report are findings about what types of research are done, where. "R&D conducted by higher education institutions is a key component of the overall R&D system of the United States," it states. "Academic institutions have long been responsible for performing about 10% to 15% of total U.S. R&D, including about half of all U.S. basic research. Nearly two-thirds (62% in 2018) of the R&D performed by academic institutions is basic research, around one-quarter is applied research, and about one-tenth is development. Both applied research and development have increased in recent years as percentages of overall academic R&D."
Overall, according to the report , " Research and Development: U.S. Trends and International Comparisons," the U.S. leads in total annual R&D, with our annual spend reaching $548 billion in 2017. But " China continues to close the gap, with an average annual growth rate that is currently nearly three times higher than that of the United States," it says.
To read more, click each title to access these economic reports online:
The laboratory of Dr. Dario Cantu at UC Davis has just unveiled , a web portal with genomic data and analysis tools for wild and cultivated grapevines. The portal provides user-friendly access to the grape genomes the lab generated in the last few years, including cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot. "It is by far the most comprehensive resource for grape genetics publicly available," Dario says, "and has already been accessed by researchers all over the world." We're guessing that's due to Dario's prodigious reputation throughout the international grape genetics community, because the portal hasn't even been widely publicized yet!
The portal was developed and is managed by Andrea Minio, postdoctoral fellow in the Cantu lab, and includes genomic resources on important grape pathogens, such as powdery mildew and trunk pathogens. All data are freely available and are the results of projects supported by funding from industry partners such as NGRA members E. & J. Gallo Winery and J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, and Dolce Winery, ViƱa Concha y Toro and VSPT Wine Group, as well as federal funding from the National Science Foundation and USDA.
More genomes will be released on the portal in the next few months. And it will ongoingly provide links to new research and other relevant scientific resources as they are published.

Advanced Grapevine Irrigation Scheduling and Management
UC Davis offers a day-long program on March 4 featuring a who's who of experts in grapevine irrigation. The agenda covers everything from water requirements to micro-irrigation, sensors and variable rate irrigation to the implications of climate change on vineyard irrigation. Click for complete details and registration.

Fungicide Resistance Workshops
The SCRI-funded  FRAME (Fungicide Resistance Assessment, Mitigation and Extension) Networks project is holding day-long grower-focused workshops in March in California and Colorado:
  • March 10 - Fungicide Resistance Management Extension Workshop, Napa, CA
    This workshop is designed for crop consultants, vineyard managers or anyone who writes or recommends fungicide programs. Pre-registration is required and closes March 5. Cost: $15
  • March 22 - Designing Pest Management Programs & Sprayer Calibration Workshop, Grand Junction, CO
    This workshop is designed for crop consultants, vineyard and orchard managers or anyone who writes or recommends pest management programs. Pre-registration is required and closes March 19. Cost: $60 ($40 for members of the Colorado Association for Viticulture & Enology)
Check the  FRAME Networks calendar for future workshops near you.

Fresno State Workshop for Precision Viticulture Toolbox Development
Dr. Luca Brillante, Assistant Professor of Viticulture and Bronco Wine Co. Viticulture Research Chair, Fresno State Department of Viticulture & Enology, has developed a new workshop, offered April 6-8, to help grape growers understand and employ precision viticulture and move vineyard management to the next level.
Using open-source software, the course will train participants on:
  • Fundamentals of using geographical information systems (GIS)
  • Creating and working with vector and raster data
  • Effective use of freely available government resources for spatial vineyard management
  • Pre-processing and analyzing satellite images to develop vegetation indexes
  • Fundamentals of geostatistics and interpolation for mapping
  • Creating management zones for variable rate management applications in the field
Participants also will be exposed to relevant new technologies currently offered by commercial vendors. Click for more information and registration.

February 24, 2020 | AgNet West
The first live adult spotted lanternfly has been found in California. "We have a recent report, unofficial, from someone familiar with this pest," said UC Cooperative Extension Entomologist Surendra Dara. It was found on a tree in an urban area next to a hotel in Davis, CA. The good news for California is that New York and Massachusetts also have ID'ed a single, live adult SLF and have thus far avoided an infestation.

February 24, 2020 | Lodi Winegrape Commission
The Lodi Winegrape Commission has organized an effort with growers, consultants and scientists to study vine collapse, and offer testing and management recommendations. "So far," says NGRA Board member, LWC Research & Education Director Dr. Stephanie Bolton, "multiple case studies from California vineyards have provided evidence to support the current hypothesis that a combination of a leafroll virus-sensitive rootstock, a leafroll virus, a vitivirus, and another stress (possibly trunk pathogens, crop or water stress, etc.) leads to the collapse." To learn more, click to Stephanie's comprehensive blog post, and/or attend the Mealybug & Virus Outreach Meeting on April 9 in Stockton, CA.

February 20, 2020 | San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco startup Endless West recently unveiled a new product that will help define the arc of its own (and the culinary world's) molecular revolution: a synthetic "wine" called Gemello ("twin" in Italian), modeled on a sweet, fizzy, 6% abv Moscato. It requires no winery and no grapes--just water, ethanol and synthetic versions of the chemical compounds that impart flavor and aroma. Thus, not technically (or legally) wine, it is labeled as "neutral spirits with carbonation, natural flavors, caramel color and beta carotene for color."
February 18, 2020 | Napa Valley Register
"We predict that within 20 to 30 years, local temperatures will rise 1 to 1.7 degrees overall, with a 2.0 to 2.2 increase during the growing season," says climate expert Gregory Jones of Linfield College. "That might not sound like a lot to some," he adds, "but this will have a big impact on wine grapes." UC Davis Oakville Research Station's Kaan Kurtural shares solutions in development such as the use of shade cloth, carbon sequestration and molecular markers to determine water stress and solar radiation damage.
February 10, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
If you've ever wondered what the National Clean Plant Network does (or maybe it's more to the point if you haven't!), check out this column from NGRA Board member Vicky Scharlau of Washington Winegrowers. She writes largely about the Clean Plant Center Northwest, but she discusses how vital the NCPN is to success of the grape industry, and how we can sustain this critical resource into the future.
February 5, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
Tiny "microsatellites" called Monarchs are being tested in Finger Lakes Wine Country, including at NGRA member Anthony Road Wine Company, to assess their ability to gather critical viticulture data. Small enough to tuck inside the canopy and cheap enough to deploy in large numbers, Monarchs measure temperature and humidity at microclimate scale, ambient light, GPS location, their own motion and the relative magnetic field. The data could help guide such management tasks as spray scheduling.
February 5, 2020 | The California Aggie
How does grapevine red blotch spread? The three-cornered alfalfa treehopper (a.k.a. TCAH, pronounced TEE-kuh) is a known vector, but it prefers legumes as its host, not grapes. A team of California and Oregon scientists, led by UC Davis, won a four-year, $3 million SCRI grant to better understand the virus and identify other possible vectors.
February 3, 2020 | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Working in citrus, a team of scientists led by the USDA's Tim Gottwald found that dogs can detect infections like citrus greening weeks to even years prior to visual survey by humans, more than 99% of the time. Dogs even beat molecular methods for disease detection and were highly specific, accurately discriminating target pathogens from other pathogens.

February 2, 2020 | Napa Valley Register
Dogs are on the case in wineries, too. (See related story above.) TN Coopers USA uses canines to sniff out TCA, the chemical compound more commonly known as cork taint, that can infect barrels and vats, and compromise the wine inside them. Napa-based Pine Ridge Vineyards sees TCA-sniffing dogs as a step beyond chemical testing. "We test for TCA, and it always comes back clean," says winemaker and GM Michael Beaulac. "But most of this place is wood, so you're always a little concerned."

January 31, 2020 | Purdue University
The Purdue University Ag-celerator has invested $100,000 in two plant science startups. They are VinSense, which designs software and performs in-field analysis to help growers improve crop quality and sustainability, and Karyosoft, which enables genomics data analytics to be mined quickly with just a few clicks to accelerate innovations. Congrats to VinSense founders Christian Butzke and David Ebert!
January 30, 2020 | Gizmodo
The Concord grape was discovered by a backyard botanist named Ephraim Wales Bull in 1849. Later, in 1869, during the temperance movement, a Methodist minister named Thomas Welch would use it to make "Dr. Welch's Unfermented Wine." The grape would intersect cultural touchstones ranging from "Little Women" to World War I to good ol' PB&J, making grape juice or jelly a kind of time capsule from an age that permanently shaped American thought and science. For his part, Ephraim Wales Bull never found fortune with his discovery. He died in 1895 a bitter, forgotten man. "He sowed; others reaped," says his own headstone.
January 30, 2020 | Winetitles Media
Autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are showing promise in deterring birds in vineyards in New South Wales--even outperforming netting. The autonomous drone system tested by a PhD student at University of Sydney can launch, carry out bird deterring missions and recover autonomously without human input.
January 29, 2020 | Newsweek
The first open-field release of a gene-edited insect could define a new path for pest management. Cornell University scientists released male diamondback moths carrying a self-destruct gene in New York, where the female offspring of their mates will be genetically unable to survive into adulthood. With only all-male populations, the bugs will die will the need for insecticides targeting it.
January 29, 2020 | USDA
More than 700 California winegrape growers participated in the CDFA Pierce's Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board survey conducted late last year. The survey results, released at the end of January, reveal that growers feel the program has been effective in delivering research and addressing PD/GWSS and the other pest and disease threats covered by the program.
January 28, 2020 | Oxford Academic
Which trap is best at stopping the spotted lanternfly? A team of scientists from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service evaluated five types of traps. Two show significant improvements over the best trap available to date.
January 25, 2020 | The Oregonian
Pick (or rather piquette) your low-alcohol poison! In the 1800s, the French consumed millions of gallons of piquette, a fermented, slightly sparkling beverage dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, where it was made by adding water to pomace. It was all but forgotten till New York's Wild Arc Farm made the first commercial release of piquette in the U.S. in 2017. Now, at 6%-8% alcohol by volume, it's considered "a transitional beverage" gaining traction with Oregon producers.
January 24, 2020 | AgNet West
UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Matthew FIdelibus recently hosted a demonstration of mechanical pruning on the Sunpreme raisin variety at the USDA's Kearney Research and Extension Center. The demo showcased mechanical pruners and highlighted different trellis systems for the new variety. "It's an opportunity to grow raisins in a different way because this variety has some great traits that could really revolutionize raisin growing." But it also has some quirks...
October 21, 2019 | OENO One
A team of Spanish scientists applied simple sequence repeat (SSR) analysis to 79 grapevine accessions from the Canary Islands. What they found is amazing: eight previously unknown varieties of Vitis! They write: "It has been reliably shown that these cultivars have a characteristic genome: phylloxera never reached the Canary Islands so mutations, hybridations and human selection have been able to accumulate over 500 years. It is of great importance that this local plant material be conserved, given that it is part of our vine heritage."

Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.
March 2-5, 2020
Kennewick, WA

March 4-6, 2020
Columbia, MO

March 10-12, 2020
Lancaster, PA

March 19, 2020
Fredonia, NY

March 25, 2020
Paso Robles, CA

April 1, 2020
Prosser, WA

April 9, 2020
Stockton, CA

May 5-6, 2020
North Fork of Long Island, NY

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.