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Industry-funded research benefits entire Washington state wine industry

SEATTLE (May 13, 2019) – The Washington State wine industry has allocated more than $1 Million for viticulture and enology research in the coming fiscal year (July 2019-June 2020). This is the third consecutive year that research funding has topped $1 million as part of the statewide wine research grant program, which aims to improve overall wine quality by addressing vineyard and winery challenges.

More than $1,034,000 will fund 21 research projects this year, 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 program combines a unique partnership of public, private and industry monies to support viticulture and enology research at WSU. Four entities fund the statewide program: Washington State Wine Commission; Auction of Washington Wines; WSU’s Agriculture Research Center; and state wine liter taxes (1/4 cent per liter of all wine sold).

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.

About Washington State Wine

Washington State Wine represents every licensed winery and wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, WSW provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness about the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines. Funded almost entirely by the industry through assessments based on grape and wine sales, WSW is a state government agency, established by the legislature in 1987. To learn more, visit www.washingtonwine.org.

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