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

Photo credit: Dr. Jason Londo; see story below.
We all need someone we can go to for wise and insightful counsel, and straight talk on how to achieve our goals. Han Solo had Yoda. Rocky Balboa had Mickey. NGRA has our Science Advisory Council.
The Council was formed in 2019 as a way to formalize our relationship with some of our longest-standing technical advisors and grape research advocates. It will help us to:
In This Issue
  • Establish and evaluate our research priorities and key initiatives
  • Build alignment and transparency with leading scientists regarding grape industry research needs and priorities
  • Facilitate and operationalize open, ongoing, two-way dialog with government agencies and academic institutions regarding required research infrastructure, common challenges and future opportunities
  • Understand the policies and procedures related to the operation and administration of government agencies and academic institutions
  • Foster a sense of community among scientists, administrators and industry stakeholders interested in advancing grape research
  • Underscore NGRA's unique role in bringing together industry and the research community
Currently, our Science Advisory Council is comprised of three respected senior leaders:
Judy St. John was our first inductee, in June 2019. Upon her retirement in 2011, Judy  was Associate Administrator - Office of National Programs for USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). She worked for USDA for nearly five decades, learning firsthand how valuable inter-industry cooperation could be. She was instrumental in the creation of NGRA (then, NGWI) as a national, industry-led coalition, and our founding in 2004. She ensured buy-in from ARS, even securing some rare seed funding from the agency to help recognize NGRA as the leading coordinated voice for the grape and wine industry, nationwide.
In February 2020, Sally Schneider was inducted into the Council. Sally worked closely with Judy as a member of the ARS National Program staff, where she had direct responsibility for grape research. Sally retired from ARS in 2017 as Deputy Administrator - Natural Resources & Sustainable Ag Systems. Like Judy, Sally served as a strong advocate for our industry during her tenure at ARS. Just prior to her retirement, she made official the plan for a water research unit to be established in California with grapes as a focus--a critical addition to the agency's Long-Term Agroecosystem Research Network. Together, Judy and Sally helped establish the biannual ARS Grape Industry Workshop with NGRA for the agency's scientists and industry stakeholders to exchange ideas. Even in retirement, they remain ardent supporters of NGRA, attending Board meetings and making themselves available to provide guidance as needed.
Deborah Golino, Director of Foundation Plant Services (FPS) at UC Davis, also was inducted in February. She has served on the NGRA Board of Directors since our inception in 2004, foreshadowing the role of and her part in the Science Advisory Council. Deborah's oversight of FPS and leadership role with the National Clean Plant Network make her a leading advocate for grape research and one of the top grape research and extension administrators in the country. She has helped to shape NGRA's research priorities and our understanding of and interface with academic institutions.
The Science Advisory Council may function collectively as a mentor, muse, secret weapon or sounding board. Whatever you call it, the Council and its three founding members are invaluable to me and to our Board of Directors and committees. Additional Council members may be appointed over time. But as the Council is composed now, they're the M (Judi Dench version) to our James Bond. See them here.
Donnell Brown
About the cover photo
Dr. Jason Londo, USDA-ARS, based at the Grape Genetics Research Unit in Geneva, NY, shared this photo--a beautiful example of research proceeding, even working from home. He writes, "What you are seeing here are grapevine cuttings of 32 different cultivars, collected from the field and assayed for both cold-hardiness and for budbreak. My home temp (68 degrees) is the same temp as the growth chambers we use so I can do the budbreak collection on my dining room. This experiment is being used to calibrate a budbreak risk and prediction model for grapes."
On April 15, 1880, the California Legislature mandated the regents of the University of California to establish a program that provided instruction and research in viticulture and enology. Even then, state leaders envisioned California's potential to become one of the world's foremost wine and grape producing regions. Originally established at University of California, Berkeley, the Department of Viticulture and Enology moved to UC Davis, following the repeal of Prohibition, and is credited with re-starting California's wine industry. Read more about the milestone and raise a glass to UC Davis!
The California Green Medal winners have been announced for the sixth-annual Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. The California Green Medal recognizes the leadership of wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability. This year's four Green Medal winners are:
  • Leader Award, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines*
  • Environment Award, Bonterra Organic Vineyards
  • Community Award, Clif Family Winery
  • Business Award, Pisoni Family Vineyards
The recipients of the Green Medal Awards will be honored at a ceremony at the California State Capitol in Sacramento in the coming months. The California Green Medal is presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers*, Wine Institute*, Lodi Winegrape Commission*, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and Vineyard Team.  Read more about the California Green Medal winners.
Those marked with * are NGRA members.
Growers today are inundated with technologies promising all sorts of solutions. But how do growers evaluate what will work best for their farms and their needs, versus chasing the shiny and new? Good Fruit Grower this month introduced an occasional Tech 101 feature, where industry-leading experts share the benefits and pitfalls of new tools and recommend the questions to ask salespeople and service providers to ensure you get the best solutions for your farm. The first installment featured Jenn Smithyman of NGRA member Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, focused on aerial remote sensing.  Read the full story  or see the short summary under In the News below.
Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, the President's Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is now Acting Director of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Droegemeier will serve in this acting capacity until the Senate confirmation of Dr. Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, who President Trump nominated in December to succeed Dr. France Córdova at the end of her term this year.
Congratulations to Dr. Mark Krstic, who was appointed Managing Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute, effective February 1. Dr. Krstic succeeds Dr. Dan Johnson, who led the AWRI since 2011. He was formerly General Manager Business Development at the AWRI. Said Chair of the AWRI Board Louisa Rose in making the announcement, "As the AWRI embraces a changing research, development and extension landscape, Dr. Krstic will be an outstanding leader for the Australian grape and wine industry's research organization." We couldn't agree more.
The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has four  Deputy Director positions to fill. These Kansas City-based senior executive positions are:
  • Deputy Director, Institute of Bioenergy, Climate and Environment
  • Deputy Director, Institute of Food Production and Sustainability
  • Deputy Director, Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition
  • Deputy Director, Institute of Youth, Family and Community
See the complete job announcement. Applications will be accepted until May 22, 2020.
Talented and motivated students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of digital agriculture and crop modeling are encouraged to apply for several new funded positions at UC Davis. Students will have the opportunity to work under the supervision of worldwide leaders in this area at UC Davis, and collaborate with top agritech industry groups such as DowDupont, Bayer and the National Grape Research Alliance. Visit  for more information.
Are you a wine grower in Washington State? The Washington Wine Commission seeks your input! Wine grape growers, winemakers, consultants, scientists and other industry members are invited to take a short survey to reevaluate the state's research priorities. The priority list guides scientists and keeps research projects relevant to Washington's wine industry. Participate now!
A vote, held every five years, is under way now in California to decide the fate of funding for the  California Department of Food and Agriculture's Pierce's Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board . The board works to combat not only the eponymous aphid and vine-killing disease it spreads, but other designated pests and diseases of grapevine through research, reviewing and recommending proposals for funding by CDFA. For example, at its April 23 meeting, for fiscal year 2020-21, the board approved $2.4 million to fund 12 research projects related to Pierce's Disease, grapevine viruses and mealybug. Funding includes $167,000 for one year to Foundation Plant Services to understand how grapevine red blotch virus has infected and spread within its Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard. (See related news in the Research Update below.)
Ballots for the five-year referendum must be returned by May 8; at least 40% of eligible growers must vote for it to pass. "While these are troubling times, it is imperative that we protect our vineyards from these destructive pests and diseases,"  Napa Valley Grapegrowers  urged its members.
USDA-ARS has launched the  SCINet initiative  to improve its research capacity by providing scientists with access to high performance computer clusters, cloud computing, improved networking for data transfer and training in scientific computing.
In parallel, NSF is collaborating with Amazon Web Services, IBM and Microsoft Quantum to make available cloud-based quantum-computing platforms to advance research and build capacity in the academic setting. (Next-generation quantum processors operate in the 50- to 100-qubit range.) NSF will accept supplemental funding requests for active awards to support graduate-student time to work on these platforms. In parallel, Amazon Web Services, IBM, and Microsoft Quantum will make platform use available to recipients of supplemental awards at no cost, pending a mutually agreeable arrangement between the PIs and the companies.

NGRA has initiated two appropriations requests and hopes that, as grape stakeholders see value in these asks, you'll take them up with your elected officials for the federal FY2021 budget and/or spending bills as they may emerge in response to the current crisis. After all, although research takes time, it can have tremendous positive cost impacts.

So, what are these requests? They're both broad-based federal research programs that serve the grape and wine industry nationwide--and will for decades to come:

Grape Genetics Research Unit Staffing - $10 million. Following the $68.9 million appropriation the GGRU received for a new building on the Geneva, NY, campus of Cornell University this year, it is important that staffing is right-sized both to fit the building and to harness synergies with the network of ARS scientists and research assets across the country. We're already seeing powdery mildew-resistant varieties emerge from this program. With varieties that are resistant to disease, pest, drought, salinity and other blights, grape growers can reduce their inputs, which are costly, financially and environmentally. Plus, through marker-assisted selection and/or more advanced genetics technologies, grapes can be improved such that it's easier to mechanize their management, can have improved and more consistent quality, and can even possibly be more nutritious. See the complete request for the impacts of genetics research in regions around the country--this isn't just a New York issue!
Disease Detection with Dogs - $500,000-$600,000. Dr. Tim Gottwald (who retired this month) spoke at the NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop in November 2019 and captured the attention of many NGRA members. He spoke to our Board again in February, specifically about how his very successful work in citrus could be applied to grape. We sent a letter of request to USDA-ARS to ask that existing funding be found in this fiscal year to expand Dr. Gottwald's program to include grape, using as a point of urgency the outbreak of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus at Foundation Plant Services--a critical source of clean plant material for nation. ARS has been very receptive and it looks promising that the funding for this year will come through. We crafted the attached appropriation request to ensure the expansion of the program and funding continue in FY2021 and beyond. Again, although the proof point for funding is a red blotch outbreak in California, this research would benefit all growers in all grape sectors, coast-to-coast.

As a nonprofit organization, NGRA cannot lobby for these funds. Rather, we produce these requests to represent the national research needs that are in line with our industry's research priorities. If you are willing and able to take one or both of these requests to your Senators and/or Representatives, we would be grateful for your support!
Note: A PDF version of each appropriations request is available for download at the links above, in case you're ready to share copies with your lawmakers.
Act fast for the following grant programs:
COVID-19 Rapid Response Program Area for AFRI
USDA-NIFA added a program area to its Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI): Rapid Response to Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Impacts Across Food and Agricultural Systems. It includes four priority areas: Health and Security of Livestock; Well-being of Farm, Food Service Providers and Rural Americans; Economic Security; and Food Safety. Proposals are due June 4. NIFA will expedite application evaluation and awards review to ensure rapid project start-up.  Check out the AFRI funding opportunity.
Signals in the Soil
NSF in collaboration with USDA-NIFA encourage convergent research that transforms existing capabilities in understanding dynamic soil processes, including soil formation, through advances in sensor systems and modeling, via the joint Signals in the Soil (SitS) program. Proposals are due May 20. Get complete details.

Crop Protection and Pest Management
The Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) program addresses high-priority and emerging issues related to pests and integrated pest management (IPM) approaches at the state, regional and national levels. Proposals are due June 8. Read the complete RFA.

April 23, 2020 | Science
The US Supreme Court ruled that the federal Clean Water Act applies to the pollution of underground water that flows into nearby lakes, streams and bays, likening it to pouring pollutants directly into these water bodies. The new standard will hinge on scientific studies of how water and chemicals move underground in individual cases. But tracing the movement of pollutants through groundwater is tricky work, says Thomas Harter, a hydrologist at UC Davis.
April 22, 2020 | Forbes
A new paper on digital agriculture from Michigan State University shows that, if nitrogen fertilizer applications were based on demand and yield stability instead of uniform application, usage in the Midwest could be reduced by 36% with significant reductions in groundwater contamination and carbon dioxide emissions. It's part of how the integration of sensors, AI and predictive modeling is reaching a level of accuracy that can be used to design pathways to sustainability in agriculture, they write. "What farmers do on their land today will affect their neighbor's grandchildren in 30 years," says co-PI Dr. Bruno Basso.
April 22, 2020 | Wine Spectator
Is it possible for a winery to use only one gallon of potable water per gallon of wine produced? Silver Oak Cellars is showing that, yes, it is. The company also produces 104% of the energy it needs, and just was certified a Living Building by the Living Future Institute. It is the first winery, the world's largest manufacturing facility and only the 25th project of any kind in the world to earn the designation.
April 17, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
Meet New York's new plant pathologist for grapes, Dr. Kaitlin (Katie) Gold. An assistant professor of plant pathology at Cornell AgriTech she succeeds Dr. Wayne Wilcox, who retired in 2018. Dr. Gold now leads the grape plant pathology program and is head of the GrapeSPEC (Sensing, Pathology and Extension at Cornell AgriTech) laboratory, whose mission will be to combine fundamental plant pathology, data science and vegetative spectroscopy to improve integrated grape pest management
April 15, 2020 | MIT News
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are using sensors made of carbon nanotubes embedded in plant leaves to track how plants respond to stresses such as injury, infection and light damage. These sensors report on hydrogen peroxide signaling waves via near-infrared fluorescence that can be imaged using a small infrared camera connected to a smartphone. Applications for the technology include screening plants for their ability to resist mechanical damage, light, heat, and other forms of stress, and studying responses to pathogens, such as the bacteria that cause citrus greening.
April 15, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, parent company to Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Columbia Crest Winery and other iconic Washington brands, has been using aerial remote sensing since 2004 to monitor vine health, plan differential harvest and even plan new vineyards. Here, SMWE precision viticulture specialist Jenn Smithyman gives a primer on how they're using the tech and how other growers can, too.
April 8, 2020 | NASA
Thanks to the GRAPEX project, a collaboration with the USDA-ARS and NASA, grape growers like NGRA member E. & J. Gallo Winery can use data from satellites to track soil and vine moisture, understand vine water use and plan irrigation. "GRAPEX grew out of our desire to harness the power of the remote-sensing data provided by Landsat satellites," said Gallo's Nick Dokoozlian, an NGRA Board member. "GRAPEX has dramatically improved our ability to accurately schedule irrigation. Once we implement the findings of the project across our entire vineyard acreage, we will reduce the amount of water we apply for irrigation by up to 25%, and that's a very, very big number."
April 3, 2020 | Wine Australia
Could permanent draped netting help prevent damage to fruit from hail, sunburn and heatwaves, and pest impacts at harvest from birds? According to research funded by Wine Australia, it seems promising!
April 2, 2020 | Ag Net West
As part of the $9 billion 5G fund announced in December, the Federal Communications Commission will devote $1 billion to supporting precision agriculture. The move includes establishing a Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force, led by Trilogy Networks CEO George Woodward. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the significance of precision ag technologies in keeping the food supply chain moving with efficiency, he said.
March 30, 2020 | Capital Press
Working from the Napa-based UC Davis Oakville Research Station, cooperative extension specialist Dr. Kaan Kurtural is leveraging AI to optimize irrigation without huge capital investments. Using tractor-mounted soil sensors to scan the conditions beneath the soil, Dr. Kurtural's team applies machine learning algorithms to understand why areas of the vineyard behave differently, then map the field into sections according to water stress. From there, growers can achieve efficiencies in irrigation through zone management.
March 26, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
The Viticulture and Enology team at Texas Tech University has updated its Vineyard Advisor app for 2020. The free phone app provides searchable guidance from experts on more than 350 problems afflicting grapes nationwide, including diseases, insects, wildlife pests, weeds, physiological disorders and environmental stresses. This year's refresh adds smoke taint and fire injury, and new and emerging pests and diseases like spotted lanternfly, light brown apple moth, brown marmorated stink bug, European grapevine moth, spotted wing drosophila, Red Blotch, Pinot leaf curl and more.
March 25, 2020 | California Ag Net
The journey to full vineyard mechanization can be rough, but it's worthwhile, says Greg Gonzalez at Scheid Vineyards. Wondering where to start or how to maintain the same or better quality compared to traditional methods? This brief interview with Greg by American Vineyard Magazine may help.
March 16, 2020 | Genetic Literacy Project
How exactly can gene editing technologies benefit the world's food (including grape and wine) supply? Targeting and genetically removing the susceptibility to economically devastating diseases like powdery mildew, for example, could save the California grape industry alone some $239 million in fungicide. Papaya, banana, coffee and of course citrus are cited here as examples of how gene editing could save billions in crop losses.
February 2020 | Oregon State University
If you're a winegrape grower in Oregon, download this free resource from Oregon State University, newly updated for 2020. It documents, by vine growth stage, the more effective pesticides to control insects, weeds and disease; their rates; and application timing for Oregon grape growers. It also covers the effectiveness of various fungicides for control of grape diseases; strategies for controlling powdery mildew, botrytis bunch rot, and spider mites; methods of controlling weeds in vineyards; and resources for organic growers.

2020 | SARE
Imed Dami at The Ohio State University was awarded a grant to explore the use of a renewable mulching system instead of the current practice of hilling-up to prevent winter injury. The mulch alternative "is proposed to boost vineyard profitability by enhancing soil-vine health and abating the current harmful practice of soil hilling," says Dr. Dami. Funding is provided by the North Central Region SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) Program.
Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.
May 5-6, 2020
North Fork of Long Island, NY

May 26-30, 2020
Stevenson, WA
June 2-4, 2020
WineAmerica's National Wine Policy Conference  CANCELED
Washington DC

Joint conference of ASEV and ASEV-Eastern Section
Portland, OR
Friday, June 19, 2020
NGRA Mid-Year Board Meeting 
Moved to Zoom
July 9, 2020
Woodinville, WA Tentative
July 12-17, 2020
International Cool Climate Wine Symposium 2020  POSTPONED TO 2021 
Ontario, Canada

August 27, 2020

August 27, 2020
Paso Robles, CA

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.