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

Jerry Lohr in the 1970s*
On this day, August 28 (and the next) in 2003, the National Grape Research Alliance was born.
The organization didn't have a name yet. It wasn't even an organization yet. It was just a two-day meeting of 20 wine industry representatives and academics from UC Davis, concerned about what was then considered a crisis of research funding. There, they developed a process for establishing research priorities that would mutually benefit the wine industry, and academic and research organizations. Soon after, the group officially formed the Winegrower's Critical Research Investment Initiative (WCRII).
In This Issue
Together, these 20 forward-thinkers outlined a vision for the future of grape and wine research and funding, and for how industry, university research institutions, the USDA and other government agencies, could work together. They sought to ensure that the American grape industries would lead the world in wine science, innovation, economic impact, and environmental and business practices. Indeed, they would later set a goal that, by 2020 (this year!), the grape and wine industry's economic impact would triple, from a conservative estimate of $50 billion then, to $150 billion now. It turned out that the group aimed far too low. In 2017, long-time member WineAmerica reported annual economic impact of $219.9 billion--for the wine industry alone!
In 2005, the WCRII changed its name to the National Grape & Wine Initiative (NGWI), acknowledging that, by working collectively across all grape sectors, the organization would be stronger and have a greater voice. At this point, leaders from the California Table Grape Commission, Sun-Maid Growers of California and the National Grape Cooperative/Welch's joined in, as did industry representatives from across the nation.
In December 2007, Wine Business Monthly produced a special edition of the magazine titled, "The Wine Industry Research Gap." In it, there was a whole article introducing NGWI, written by Mary Wagner, who was, at the time, Chief Technology Officer at E. & J. Gallo Winery and an architect of NGWI. By then, among other accomplishments, the organization already had helped to create what we now know as the National Clean Plant Network (then called the National Clean Stock Network), initiated an ARS research planning workshop with industry (which continues), facilitated creation of the National Grape Registry (the precursor to the web-based catalog at Foundation Plant Services) and helped to launch what would become the annual grassroots National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership Conference, which we continue to support today.
In 2008, NGWI hired its first full-time President, Jean-Mari Peltier, who led the organization for more than seven years and helped to coalesce and obtain funding for such landmark projects as Efficient Vineyard (see Research Focus below) and VitisGen. I came along in 2017, just as our members decided that, after more than a decade in operation, a new, more inclusive name was in order--one that underscored our allied effort and research focus. In 2018, we became the National Grape Research Alliance.
NGRA is fortunate to have so many of those original pioneers--or their successors at the same company--still involved. Jerry Lohr (shown above), who was the founding chair of the organization, says, "J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines firmly believes in the power of research to advance the grape and wine industry, and in NGRA as a major force of that change. We remain proud members and leaders of the organization."
I remember being 17. That's when I graduated high school and, by August of that year, started college. It's an age of intense learning and growing, finding your way in the world and discovering who you are--and who you can be--in it. I'd say that's about where NGRA is now, after 17 years. We've come a long way...and have a long way to go!
Happy birthday, NGRA!
Donnell Brown
*Photo courtesy of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
Richard (Rich) Smith, founder of Valley Farm Management, Paraiso Vineyards and Smith Family Wines in California's Monterey wine region, was first and foremost a family man, and also a successful grape grower and winery owner, and respected colleague. Through his significant and selfless contributions of time, energy and funds to organizations that advance the American grape and wine industry, he came to be known as a highly effective, collegial and tireless leader. He passed away in December 2015. Three of the organizations Rich helped to shape--the National Grape Research Alliance, WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America--collaborated to create the Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award to honor his spirit and legacy. It recognizes people who demonstrate similar qualities and make a similarly positive impact on the industry. Nominations for the 2021 award are being accepted through October 30, 2020. Click to nominate a leader.
The Lodi Winegrape Commission (LWC) is happy to announce that, thanks to a collaborative effort with and funding by the American Vineyard Foundation and California Department of Food and Agriculture's Pierce's Disease/Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Board, a new workbook is available to give growers insight and answers on one of their peskiest problems: viruses. What Every Winegrower Should Know: Viruses, written by the LWC's Dr. Stephanie Bolton, a member of NGRA's Board of Directors, is filled with photographs and case studies, and covers the following topics in grower language: grapevine virus basics, nursery ordering, mealybugs, virus testing, infected vine removal, sudden vine collapse and more. "Many of these topics were previously considered quite a mystery to the average person!" Stephanie says. 
Though targeted to winegrape growers in the Lodi AVA, the book applies and is available to any interested grower anywhere. Email Stephanie for your copy of the 138-page hard-copy book or electronic version (with bonus videos) on a flash drive. Either format comes with custom flagging tape plus a vine mealybug scouting card. The book itself is free (while supplies last), and shipping is $10 for each hard copy and $4 per flash drive. 
You also can consult the grapevine virus page on the Lodi Growers website, where your questions are welcome and will help seed a FAQ.
In late August, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service held listening sessions for its national program (NP) on Water Availability and Watershed Management (NP211). As part of the exercise, ARS produced a web-based "story map" to guide the sessions. The site features NP 211 accomplishment highlights organized by geographic area, including GRAPEX, under Northeast Area (around 5:39 minutes into the highlights reel). And it provides a survey where stakeholders (you!) can provide input on research needs. If you were unable to participate in the listening sessions and/or have water-related topics you'd like ARS to consider adding to its next five-year research program, visit the website and click "Research Priorities" to share your suggestions. Input will be compiled starting on September 7, 2020.
Dr. Patty Skinkis, Viticulture Extension Specialist and Professor at Oregon State University and a member of the NGRA Integrated Production Systems Research Theme Committee, has been confirmed as 2020-2021 president of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) as of July 1. She now leads ASEV's 12-member board. "I am pleased to be serving as ASEV president during these trying times. The challenges provide us with opportunities to change as a society and envision a new reality that may better serve the industry and the culture of scientific exchange long-term," she says.
Benjamin Z. Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment and professor of Global Environmental Studies at UC Davis, this month has been named the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Dr. Houlton's five-year appointment is effective October 1, 2020.
A team of Arkansas scientists is leading a program that will set quality standards for Arkansas-made wine, provide professional development for growers and winemakers and entice consumers to taste the fruit of the state's vines and their unique flavors. Dr. Renee Threlfall, a research scientist at the University of Arkansas and member of NGRA's Extension and Outreach Theme Committee, will serve as director of the Arkansas Quality Wine program, or AQW. Other team members include Dr. Amanda McWhirt, extension horticulture crops specialist at U of A and Amanda Fleming, a food science graduate student at U of A, who also is head winemaker at Post Winery. The program is funded in part by a specialty crop block grant from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
After 36 years of service to the University of California, 33 of them to the UC Davis Library, Distinguished Wine and Food Science Bibliographer Axel Borg retired on June 29, 2020. Axel's work to build the library's wine collections has been widely acknowledged as an important force behind its reputation as the leading wine library in the world. He will remain involved with the library in a volunteer role designed to make the most of his extensive knowledge and connections in food and, especially, wine. 
The Cornell AgriTech annual report, Fruit & Vegetable Breeding Success 2019, released this month includes the impressive performance of the six cool-climate disease-resistant grape varieties Dr. Bruce Reisch has released since 2010. They are Valvin Muscat, Aromella, Corot Noir, Arandell, Noiret and Everest (a seedless Concord-type table grape). Click to the report to see the acreage planted and related wine sales for all but Everest (too new to include in the reporting) in the last 10 years.
According to the just-released National Cover Crop Annual Report 2019-2020, farmers (including grapegrowers) who use the practice report benefits such as improved weed control and soil health, and modest increases in profitability. The survey is conducted by USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Conservation Technology Information Center and American Seed Trade Association.
A new research center called the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture (IoT4Ag) has been formed via a new, $26 million, five-year National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers (ERC) grant. The IoT4Ag is a coalition of four universities--the University of Pennsylvania, UC Merced, Purdue University and the University of Florida--whose mission is to ensure food, energy and water security by developing technology to increase crop production, minimize the use of energy and water, and lessen the impact of agricultural practices on the environment. Bringing together academic, government and industry partners, the Center will create an innovation ecosystem that will ensure the rapid translation of IoT4Ag practices and technologies into sustainable commercial products. ERCs are NSF's flagship, highly competitive engineering programs for convergent research to address large-scale societal challenges.
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. The successful candidate is expected to establish an effective statewide viticulture extension program. Review of applicants will begin on October 1, 2020, and potential start date will be in December 2020. See the complete job description and apply.

By Terry Bates, Rhiann Jakubowski, Ted Taft, Dan Sprague, Andy Joy, Madonna Martin and Scott Ebert
Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory, Cornell AgriTech, Cornell University
Editor's Note: Under the direction of Dr. Terry Bates (Cornell) and Dr. George Kantor (Carnegie Mellon), this top-priority project, titled "Efficient Vineyard: Vineyard Efficiency through High-Resolution, Spatio-Temporal Crop Load Measurement and Management," sought to develop sensor and mechanization technology to measure crop load and assess canopy with real-time imaging to enhance growers' ability to achieve vine balance and eventually develop tools for precision viticultural practices. Through NGRA, the industry committed nearly $1 million for proof of concept work from 2011 through 2015, when the project received funding from the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, through 2019. It has been one of NGRA's marquee projects. As the SCRI-funded project wraps up this year (through a no-cost extension from NIFA), it seemed fitting to share a final update in this 17th anniversary newsletter. In this excerpted article from Appellation Cornell, Terry and his team demonstrate the Efficient Vineyard concepts through a little school spirit.
The main goal of the Efficient Vineyard project is to spatially measure and manage vineyard crop load. At the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory (CLEREL), this goal was achieved and demonstrated by the creation of a Big Cornell "C" in a Concord vineyard block at CLER­EL through spatial-data-driven, variable-rate, semi-automated mechanical shoot thinning. Although this is clearly an attempt by the CLEREL team to show their Cornell AgriTech pride, the demonstration does integrate several Efficient Vineyard research components in viticulture, sensor technology, spatial data processing and agriculture engineering.
From the inception of the Efficient Vineyard project, the team has worked to address stages of a production loop in vineyard management:
  • Developing or evaluating sensors to collect spatial vineyard data
  • Translating sensor data to viticulture information
  • Processing multi-layer spatial information for management decisions
  • Applying variable-rate mechanization to commercial vineyards
  • Evaluating the impact of precision viticulture (PV) management practices to apply to future management decisions
But before you even begin, you must start with a clear vine management objective. Every management decision in the vineyard is done for a reason and precision management is no exception. Having a clear understanding of what you want to spatially measure, why you want to measure it, and how you will manage the spatial variation, is an important first step to avoid precision viticulture frustration. For this example--using this approach to PV to create the Big C--our objective was to manage vine crop load in Concord through early season shoot thinning.
As you can see, following the steps above, it worked!

The Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, NY, showing the main building, barn and one of the Concord research vineyards. Variable-rate mechanical shoot thinning on May 27, 2020 (inset) was used to alter the shoot density across the block in a Cornell "C" pattern, which could be detected with proximal NDVI sensors at bloom.
The Efficient Vineyard project has provided a roadmap for current spatial-data driven variable-rate vineyard management: integration of proximal vineyard sensors for measuring soil, canopy, and crop attributes; sampling protocols to translate sensor data into viticulture infor­mation; multiple spatial data processing techniques to generate prescription maps; technology development for variable-rate vineyard mechanization in commercial vineyards; and methods to evaluate PV applications with viticulture models and sensor data.

The CLEREL team is excited to build upon the framework. We are currently collaborating with new Cornell faculty, Katie Gold and Yu Jiang, in evaluating new sensor technology and satellite imagery for canopy growth and disease detection. New research has been proposed by a team led by Markus Keller (Washington State University, another NGRA-supported project) to address precision nutrient management. The Efficient Vineyard engineering collaboration with Carn­egie Mellon is expanding into the imaging and mechanical development of robotic grapevine pruning. Work also continues with web developer Nick Gunner and spatial data scientist James Taylor (INRAE) on spatial visual­ization software tools and decision support systems for growers to make practical use of spatial sensor data.
The collaboration between industry and our team of scientists provided a model of efficiency and productivity of its own. We are grateful to NGRA and the industry contributors and collaborators who helped to ensure Efficient Vineyard didn't die on the vine. The Big C not only stands for Cornell. Now it stands for Complete (for the SCRI-funded project)...and Continuing!

Read the full text of this article, Variable-rate Mechanical Shoot Thinning in Concord Demonstrates the Practical Application of Precision Viticulture, in the August edition of Appellation Cornell.
Are you a scientist who has--or has had--a federal grant that you managed via the USDA-NIFA Research, Education, and Extension project online reporting tool, or REEport? NIFA annually seeks comment on REEport. This year, among other things, NIFA administrators would like to know if there are ways to enhance the quality, clarity and utility of the information collected, and if the tool can be made easier to use. See the Federal Register notice to find out what other feedback they're seeking and where to send your input, now through October 19, 2020.
These grant programs have upcoming deadlines.

OIV 2020 Research Scholarships

The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) grants research scholarships in priority program fields, including viticulture, enology, economy and law, and safety and health. These grants are short-term (6 to 15 months maximum) and are provided for specific post-graduate training programs. Candidates must be very qualified, with the desire to pursue their research, further knowledge and keep up on the latest progress made in their field of study and/or work. Apply by October 24, 2020. Learn more.

AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program
The request for applications (RFA) for USDA-NIFA's flagship Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational and Applied Science Program was issued this month. The program supports grants to advance knowledge in both fundamental and applied sciences in six priority areas: Plant Health and Production and Plant Products; Animal Health and Production and Animal Products; Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health; Bioenergy, Natural Resources, and Environment; Agriculture Systems and Technology; and Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities. Research-only, extension-only, and integrated research, education and/or extension projects are welcome. See the RFA for details. Deadlines for 2021 programs range from May through July 2021, depending on the program area; 2022 deadlines are listed, as well.

Remember, 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.

August 19, 2020 | Esri
As California and its grape-producing regions blaze into wildfire season, Esri produced an animated map of the 10 largest fires from 1910 to 2019.
August 17, 2020 | The Drinks Business
A study led by UC Davis scientists found that samples of Pinot Noir taken immediately after fermentation could be identified as to which of five Russian River Valley sub-regions they came from based on the clusters of chemical elements in each wine. The study links terroir with wine, and shows the potential of using elemental fingerprints to verify wine authenticity. Read the free text of the paper in the journal, Molecules, here.
August 16, 2020 | CNN
Due to confirmed "severe infestations," the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is asking residents of eight counties--Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem and Somerset--to inspect their cars for spotted lanternfly before driving. "We have been working diligently to slow the advance of this bug," the Ag Secretary says.
August 10, 2020 | Lodi Growers
Lodi Winegrowers this month debuted their video featuring an innovative project addressing the mealybug and leafroll virus challenge, engaging growers in a regional biocontrol effort.
August 10, 2020 | CU Boulder Today
A new study from University of Colorado Boulder identifies fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture as the largest sources of sulfur in the environment. Says PI of the study, "These amounts are much higher than what we saw at the peak of acid rain" in the 1960s and 70s. We haven't yet studied how the forms of sulfur we use react in the soil, she adds.
August 7, 2020 | Wine Australia
Scientists in Australia are trialing sensors for volatile ethanol to detect the onset of berry cell death and resulting berry shrivel. "We have found that ethanol is released from grape berries when they become oxygen stressed. Being able to tell when cell death begins would be a useful tool in monitoring berry health and fruit ripening potential," says PI Stephen Tyerman of The University of Adelaide.
August 6, 2020 | Vineyard Team
Dr. Steven Lindow of UC Berkeley is researching the use of bacteria naturally found in onions that can, when applied to grapevines via surfactant, can sensitize grapevines to the pathogen that causes Pierce's Disease to prevent infection. Listen in as he explains the mysterious process.
August 6, 2020 | KPTV
Willamette Valley Vineyards recently installed a special band of UV light into tasting rooms HVAC systems to protect their customers and employees from the coronavirus. Now, Oregon winemakers are trialing UV to control powdery mildew in their vineyards.
August 4, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
The Flash sensor is a crop estimation tool developed by Carnegie Mellon University, now in field trials in WA, CA and NY for prospective commercialization by CMU startup Bloomfield Robotics. It uses deep learning to analyze terabytes of image data from vineyards and applies a ratio of visible to non-visible fruit to estimate yield. NGRA helped to pilot the early research that fueled its development!
August 3, 2020 | California Table Grape Commission
While most grape growers are busy estimating yield for their own farms, the California Table Grape Commission has produced an estimate for the entire 2020 table grape crop: 104.9 million 19-pound boxes of Grapes From California, nearly equal to the actual 2019 harvest tally. "Estimating the crop is a detailed process that is formally undertaken three times a year and involves volume projections based on growing districts," said Kathleen Nave, president of the Commission. This estimate is a revision of the April number.
August 3, 2020 | National Drought Mitigation Center
A new decision calendar provides guidance on how grape growers in Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri can manage production in drought years. It's the result of a project called, Connecting Drought Early Warning to the Decision Making Needs of Specialty Crop Producers in the Midwestern United States, led by the National Drought Mitigation Center. Fact sheets with drought and climate tools for monitoring conditions also are available. The project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
July 31, 2020 | Forbes
Pips unearthed by researchers in Israel suggest that disease and climate change (cold, not heat) triggered by a massive volcanic eruption destroyed the ancient wine-producing region around the then-metropolis of Elusa around 540 BC. The researchers excavated and studied the remains of three settlements in the modern Negev Desert. The city of Elusa was the cultural center of the region, as the discovery of ruins of great temples, public baths and theaters shows. A complex irrigation system contributed to the wealth of the city, making it possible to grow wine in the desert. Contemporary sources praise the quality of the wine exported from the harbor of Gaza into the entire Mediterranean region.
July 30, 2020 | Shine
Talk about precision viticulture! The Shanghai Malu Grape Co. and its research institute are pioneering the use of IoT and sensors for temperature, light, CO2 and more to operating its grape-growing greenhouses. "We will inevitably use technology to replace human labor in some parts of grape cultivation," says the young scientist leading the project. "Instead of manually rolling out and rolling up plastic covers over 20 greenhouses, we can focus on other important jobs, like vine pruning."
July 27, 2020 | DBusiness 
In a less-than-ideal climate like Michigan's, achieving vine balance, when vine shoot growth provides enough leaf area to properly mature fruit, can be tricky says Michigan State University viticulturist Paolo Sabbatini. Leaf removal is critical, but when and how growers do it can make a big difference.
July 27, 2020 | AC ANR
University of California San Luis Obispo County Cooperative Extension agent Mark Battany is leading development of a network of weather stations across SLO and Santa Barbara Counties. In addition to providing weather data, the network will help growers anticipate frost risk and potential for spray drift.
July 20, 2020 | Cornell CALS
A team of scientists led by Cornell University's Katie Gold is combining talents in remote sensing, climate and earth system computer modeling, plant pathology and genomics to understand how plant pathogens travel the globe on dust particles. The project, funded by NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will lay the foundation for a global surveillance system to assess risk and track and potentially prevent the global spread of plant diseases.
July 15, 2020 | National Science Foundation
Climate change will present a conundrum for grape growers and farmers with other irrigated agriculture in snow-dependent regions, according to a new study by researchers from Cornell University and Washington State University. Either risk revenue volatility, or live with a predictable decrease in crop yields.
July 10, 2020 | UC Davis
UC Davis' Alireza Pourezza and his team at the Digital Agriculture Lab are developing an online decision support tool that will enable growers to accurately monitor per-vine nutrient (particularly N) status using large-scale drone-based aerial imaging. Find out how they're calibrating the model at three critical growth stages this year.
July 2, 2020 | Vineyard Team
Tune in as Bruce Reisch, Professor of Grapevine Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University, shares his expertise in developing new wine and table grape varieties, and new breeding techniques. Find out how Bruce's breeding program works to solve specific problems, like susceptibility to pests and diseases, early budbreak and more, to deliver distinct advantages to existing varieties.
April 7, 2020 | The Conversation
This research from Michigan State University's Plant Resilience Institute uses tomato as the model system, but it illustrates how, in a warming world, plants have a harder time fighting off insect attackers. Plants have evolved techniques for protecting themselves from heat and insect attacks--but when both these stresses happen at once, one defense may neutralize the other.
March 10, 2020 | WSU CAHNRS News
By creating "heat waves" in environment-controlled growth chambers at Washington State University, post-doctoral research associate Esther Hernández-Montes and her team are studying the effects of high temps on wine grapes, currently focusing on white varieties. Identifying changes in acidity, pH and sugar content at different growth stages of heat-stressed grapes is vital when it comes to recommending irrigation and canopy management practices for growers in drought-prone climates.

Find these stories and more, published daily, on NGRA's Facebook and Twitter feeds.
September 24-25, 2020

October 22, 2020
ASEV Invasive Pests Webinar Series:
Lifecycle Modeling and the Impacts of Climate Change

Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel, Washington State University, Prosser

November 6, 2020
Central Coast Grape Expo
King City, CA

November 10, 2020
2020 Tree & Vine Expo
Turlock, CA

November 12, 2020
ASEV Invasive Pests Webinar Series:
Invasive Species Response: Lessons from the European Grapevine Moth Collaborative Program
Speaker: Monica Cooper, University of California, Cooperative Extension, Napa County

November 13, 2020
2020 Grape, Nut & Tree Fruit Expo
Fresno, CA

November 19, 2020
End-of-Year Board Meeting
Via Zoom

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.