USDA SCRI Grant: Improved Grape And Wine Quality In A Challenging Environment

Virginia Tech’s Alson H. Smith, Jr., Agricultural Research and Experiment Station in Winchester, VA., received funding for its project, “Improved grape and wine quality in a challenging environment: An Eastern U.S. model for sustainability and economic vitality.”

Project director: Tony Wolf

GP: What’s the problem?

Wolf: The research addresses unique challenges of quality grape and wine production in the East, including unpredictable but often excessive rains during the growing season, frost and winter injury problems, unique grape varieties, and high costs of grape production that result from the relatively small scale of operation associated with most Eastern vineyards. This is coming at a time of rapid increase in the number of small farm wineries and associated vineyards, often in places that have little or no prior experience with grape and wine production. The research also explores consumer buying preferences and perceptions about eastern U.S. wines relative to other domestic and foreign brands.

GP: How do you plan to solve it?

Wolf: We will develop research-based recommendations to:
• More efficiently and precisely manage vine vegetative growth with the aim of increasing grape and wine quality, reducing canopy management labor, and reducing the use of herbicide inputs and nitrogen fertilizer losses from vineyards.
• Reduce the occurrence of environmental stresses (such as winter cold injury) through better matching of varieties to the place (vineyard site) where grown
• Reduce costs of grape production
• Provide learning resources for producers, workforce labor, and consumers
• Help establish a reputation for consistent, high quality grape and wine production, and ultimately increase market share by eastern US wines

GP: When do you hope to achieve it?

Wolf: Some short-term, educational resources, including refined metrics to evaluate vine ‘balance’ will be developed within first three years. Variety recommendations, interactive Geographical Information System vineyard evaluation tools, and refined techniques for wine-making of unique eastern US grape varieties will emerge in three to five years.

GP: Are there any ancillary goals?

Wolf: Our specific goals target and are intended to primarily benefit eastern US grape and wine producers; however, they will also benefit producers in other humid climates, such as the Midwest. While aimed at fostering increased growth and development of a primary industry, attendant benefits could be realized by allied service sectors, tourism, and states’ tax bases. Environmental benefits include a reduced reliance on herbicide inputs, increased soil organic matter, and reduced soil erosion through prudent use of vineyard cover crops. Vineyards and wineries strengthen the economic fabric of rural communities through employment, while offering alternatives to non-agricultural development.

As a result, five years from now, Grape and wine producers in all eastern US states — not just those in states that have land-grant universities involved in viticulture and enology research and Eextension — will have unprecedented access to site-specific recommendations to improve the profitability and sustainability of their operations.

Leave a Reply

Fruits Stories
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Wild Bee Populations Are out of Sync With Crop Needs
Some crops most dependent on pollinators, including pumpkins, watermelons, pears, peaches, plums, apples and blueberries, appeared to have the strongest pollination mismatch. Read More
Basic tractor on the horizon
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture Growing [Opinion]
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Food Safety Modernization Act moving at snail's pace
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping Forward
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 21, 2017
Snow Doesn’t Stop Day 1 of IFTA Conference
While the Wenatchee, WA, area has experienced higher-than expected snowfall, tour-goers trudge on to learn the latest about advanced production systems and high-value apple varieties. Read More
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wine Purchasing
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
IMPAC.org screenshot
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over Consumers
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
The Latest
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Farms Get Bigger Even as the Number of F…
A new report from USDA shows long-term trends continuing: fewer farms and fewer acres used in farming even as individual operations get bigger on average. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Wild Bee Populations Are out of Sync Wit…
Some crops most dependent on pollinators, including pumpkins, watermelons, pears, peaches, plums, apples and blueberries, appeared to have the strongest pollination mismatch. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture…
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping F…
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challe…
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Ch…
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Farm Management
February 14, 2017
Californians Holding Breath as More Stor…
Nearly 200,000 people evacuated below nation’s tallest dam; even growers have had enough for now. Read More
Fruits
February 10, 2017
Immigration Enforcement Warning Issued b…
Association advises members to prepare for Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in wake of Trump’s executive order. Read More
Fruits
February 6, 2017
Organic Trade Association Rallies Suppor…
Group is encouraging consumers to tell USDA they support an organic research and promotion program. Read More
Citrus
February 5, 2017
New Product Helps Bees Brush Off Mites
A British company developed Bee Gym, distributed by Vita Ltd. Read More
Fruits
February 4, 2017
Pests, Diseases in Organic Growing the t…
Biology, ecology of organic production the focus of two-day event. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
Florida Seeking to Fete More Eco-Innovat…
Nominations open for the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Award. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
List of Best College Farms Released
Website evaluated farms on sustainability factors, community programming, and courses available at the university or college farm, not just in the classroom. Read More
Fruits
January 30, 2017
Avoid Technology at Your Peril [Opinion]
Like it or not, technology is going to have a dramatic effect on fruit growing over the next few years. Read More
Fruits
January 29, 2017
Hold the Labels, Please [Opinion]
Companies who point out the absence of GMOs can hurt may hurt the produce industry as a whole. Read More