May 22, 2017
Survey shows increase in Washington wine industry research awareness

As the Washington state wine research program grows, so does the state’s industry awareness about the importance of such a program. According to a recent survey, about three-quarters of Washington State’s wine industry is aware that the  has a research program – a 13 percent increase over the previous year.

According to a news release, the survey, administered this spring by the Washington State Wine Commission, also found that 92 percent of the 153 respondents are aware to very aware of the viticulture and enology research being conducted in the state, which is up 4-percent from the 2016 industry survey results. Viticulture and enology research in Washington is primarily conducted by scientists at Washington State University.

Survey organizers were pleased with the awareness level of both the wine commission’s targeted research program and the recently launched Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVE) research seminar, especially since the commission only began to amplify its research program in November, 2015.

 “It’s important that we continue to raise awareness about the strategic importance and economic value of viticulture and enology research to the industry,” said Steve Warner, president of the Washington State Wine Commission. “Growers and winemakers are making the connection that through the wine commission, they are vested in an important statewide wine research program.”

There is still work to be done. A benchmark question was asked in both years of the survey: “Are you aware that Washington wine growers save more than $15 million annually due to industry supported cutworm research by WSU that resulted in 80 percent reduction in pesticide use from 1995 to 2005?” Though the 2017 results showed a 7 percent gain from the previous year in the number of growers and winemakers aware of the significant return on investment, it showed that about 70 percent are still unaware of such game-changing research.

A key part of the survey was to solicit industry input on research needs and priorities. The wine industry’s research program is driven by a research priority list annually developed and shared with the research community. Wine grape growers and winemakers were asked in the survey to rank current research topics and suggest new ones, which will help the Wine Research Advisory Committee fine-tune its research priorities for 2018.  The Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the Washington State Wine Commission, reviews and recommends funding of research proposals and will analyze almost 100 comments and research topic suggestions shared by the survey respondents.

Yeast strains and tannin management were ranked high in the survey for enology research topics. In terms of viticulture topics, vine nutrition and health, virus and disease management and management strategies for winter injuries and secondary infections, such as crown gall, rose to the top.

The survey included responses from nearly every grape growing region in Washington and represented all sizes of winery and vineyard producers, from vineyards less than ten acres and wineries smaller than 3,000 cases to vineyards to growers with more than 100 acres and wineries producing more than 100,000 cases annually.

To learn more about the Washington State Wine Commission’s research program, visit here.



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