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Wine Enthusiast Names Dr. Stephanie Bolton to ”Future 40” Tastemakers and Innovators List

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Recognizing her innovative research and leadership in sustainable viticulture

Photography by Meg Smith

LODI, Calif., Aug. 24, 2023 — Dr. Stephanie Bolton, Grower Research & Education Director for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, was recognized as one of Wine Enthusiast magazine’s “Future 40” for her achievements in sustainable winegrowing and viticulture science. The “Future 40” honor recognizes wine and spirits industry tastemakers and innovators who shape the way we drink and are bringing the drinks business into the future.

Working closely with Lodi winegrowers, Dr. Bolton regularly leads collaborative teams through deep viticultural studies of sustainability, agricultural biodiversity, grapevine viruses, rootstocks, and more. During her time at the Commission, she has been integral in procuring grant dollars to fund special projects and expand current initiatives. Just this year, Dr. Bolton and a team were awarded a $428,111 grant to study the potential of canines to detect mealybugs and viruses in vineyards, offering a creative — and unexpected — new way to protect the $57.6 billion California winegrape industry. This work will build on her years of research in the field of viruses and virus detection which includes the writing and distribution of the book What Every Winegrower Should Know: Viruses in 2020. 

Jacqueline Strum, President & Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Media, is excited about the research’s prospects and what it could mean for the industry. “Dr. Bolton’s in-field detection of mealybugs and leafroll virus could be a game changer in California’s fight to keep nurseries and vineyards healthy and free from disease.”

In addition to her work in education and research, Dr. Bolton also leads and directs the LODI RULES sustainable winegrowing certification program, recognized by many as a top program of its kind. Under her leadership, LODI RULES participation has increased to nearly 70,000 certified acres across California, Washington, and Israel. Now in its fourth edition, the program includes over 70 farming practices which are reported to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Recently updated, the program’s pesticide risk model – PEAS 2.0 – is currently the industry’s most advanced tool used to quantify the total environmental and human impact of plant protectants applied to LODI RULES vineyards annually. 

Over the years, Dr. Bolton’s passion for international and intergenerational learning has yielded global recognition as well as local opportunities. Earlier this year, she was awarded a 2023 Nuffield International Farming Scholarship which will allow her to travel the world connecting the Lodi AVA to other farmers and scientists through sustainable viticulture topics. Since 2020, Dr. Bolton has been working with colleague Don Shalvey and local school systems to develop viticulture and agritourism opportunities for the next generation. 

“Dr. Bolton’s innovative projects have the potential to benefit the entire California wine and grape industry,” said Stuart Spencer, Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission. “The Lodi growers and I are proud to support Dr. Bolton at the forefront of her cutting-edge, industry-led research and educational programming, and congratulate her on this outstanding recognition.”

About the Lodi Winegrape Commission

Established in 1991, the Lodi Winegrape Commission represents the common interests of Lodi winegrowers with programs in marketing, education, research, and sustainable viticulture. The Commission collectively and effectively promotes Lodi’s vibrant, multi-generational farming community and California’s most dynamic wine region. Comprised of nine commissioners and nine alternates, the board of directors provides direction and input on behalf of the region’s 750 winegrowers. For more information about the Lodi Winegrape Commission, visit lodigrowers.com

About the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA)

A historic winegrowing region since the 1850s, Lodi is perfectly situated 40 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco. Lodi’s Mediterranean climate and distinct soils allow its growers to cultivate more than 125 winegrape varieties, making Lodi the most diverse winegrowing region in the United States. The region also serves as home to 85 boutique wineries specializing in small-lot, handmade wines that have garnered major awards at domestic and international wine competitions. 

Lodi is naturally a leader in sustainable viticulture. Created by California farmers and accredited by world-renowned scientists, LODI RULES is America’s original sustainable winegrowing program. Held to a high standard of scientific rigor and excellence, the program emphasizes environmentally and socially responsible practices, while keeping economic feasibility in mind for long-term business success. Today, there are nearly 70,000 acres certified throughout California, in Washington, and Israel. For more information about the Lodi AVA or LODI RULES, visit lodiwine.com and lodirules.org.

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