May 16, 2019
Washington State Wine puts $1M toward research projects

The Washington state wine industry has earmarked over $1 million for research in the coming fiscal year June 2020.

More than $1,034,000 will fund 21 research projects, covering a diverse range of vineyard and winery issues. Vineyard projects focus on a new leaffolder moth that can defoliate Washington grapevines, powdery mildew fungicide resistance, grapevine pests and diseases, irrigation management and vine heat stress. Winery research projects include controlling wine spoilage, impact of pH on wine microbial ecology, tannin management, potential impacts on grapes and wine from smoke exposure, and sensory characteristics of wine.

Mechanization to address labor shortages is also a top research concern. A one-year mechanization economics project, directly funded last year by the Wine Commission and Oregon’s Erath Foundation, is nearly complete, and information on the costs and payback of mechanizing will be shared during an upcoming webinar. A project is currently underway to develop a precise mechanical solution for shoot thinning, and a new project will launch this year to develop a smartphone application to help growers estimate crop load.

Other new projects deal with soil sustainability, optimizing canopy management and irrigation practices for heat stress and deficit irrigation, pest management of insects that can transmit grapevine viruses, and atypical aromas in wines made from grapes exposed to freezing temperatures before harvest.

The statewide Grape and Wine Research Program is a competitive grant program administered by Washington State University.

The Wine Commission dedicates about 25 percent of its annual $5 million budget to fund research projects and pay its WSU Wine Science Center construction pledge. The statewide research program is industry driven and guided, and the results are accessible to all involved in the Washington wine industry—from large to small growers and wineries. Past research projects have benefited the entire industry, from reducing pesticide applications to conserving irrigation water and controlling wine spoilage.

Learn more about the Washington wine industry’s research program and view the list of the upcoming research projects on the Washington State Wine website.

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