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Washington wine allocates over $1m for research

Projects to study cutting-edge technology to solve industry issues.

Farm Press Staff

May 13, 2024

2 Min Read
Washington vineyard
A vineyard in Washington state.Washington State Wine Commission

The Washington State Wine Commission has awarded more than $1 million for the upcoming year for research that targets challenges that impact growers and winemakers.

The WSWC Board of Directors approved 17 projects totaling approximately $1,067,000 for the upcoming fiscal year (July 2024-June 2025), the commission reported in a release emailed to reporters. For the last eight years, the annual research grants have averaged about $1M and provided a stable funding base for continuity of multi-year research projects.

A major focus of the research is to improve sustainable vineyard management strategies for weeds, soil health, pests and diseases, and irrigation. Last year, the Washington wine industry launched Sustainable WA, a statewide certification program developed specifically for Washington. Already, about one-third of the state’s wine grape acreage has been certified under the program. Sustainable research topics under study include confusing the mating of grape mealybug insects with sex pheromones, developing integrated weed management strategies, evaluating nematode resistant rootstocks and using cover crops to trap and/or repel nematodes, controlling grape powdery mildew with ultra-violet light in combination with canopy management, and measuring the effects of viticultural practices on long-term soil health.

A new viticulture topic to be studied is how to optimize late season irrigation to prepare vines for winter and develop best-practice recommendations for Washington wine grape growers. Better understanding is needed of the impact, if any, of late-season irrigation on vine cold acclimation.

Innovative research

Innovative winery research projects include a phenolic prediction tool for fermenting and finished red wines to make wine analysis faster and easier and reevaluate concentrations of molecular sulfur dioxide needed to inhibit bacteria and yeast in red and white wines. WSU scientists continue to search for tools to mitigate the impacts on wine from frozen leaf material and wildfire smoke exposure.

Also, collaborative work of research teams from WSU and the University of California, Davis, who are working to advance the understanding of condensed tannins, is funded through the WSWC’s research grant program. The goal of this project is to develop a novel approach to analyze tannins in wine.

The WSWC’s Board annually allocates funding for the statewide grape and wine research program that is administered by WSU and its own research grant program. Support for the statewide research grant program comes from the public, private and industry sources of the WSWC, Auction of Washington Wines, WSU’s Agriculture Research Center, and state wine liter taxes (1/4 cent per liter of all wine sold). The WSWC administers its own competitive grant program to support short-term, demonstration trials and other research beyond state borders that complements studies by WSU scientists.

Learn more about the Washington wine industry’s research program and view the list of the 2024-25 research projects on the Washington State Wine Commission website. For additional information, contact Melissa Hansen, Research Program Director at [email protected].

Source: Washington State Wine Commission

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