Washington State Viticulture & Enology Research Priorities

Winemakers and wine grape growers in Washington State developed the priorities that will drive the statewide wine research program for the upcoming fiscal year. The priorities will guide the Washington State Wine’s funding recommendations for research in 2019.

Washington State Wine surveyed the state’s wineries, wine grape growers and research community to broaden the input used to set research priorities. More than 160 respondents ranked research topics and provided research suggestions. The committee considered the feedback and topic suggestions before approving the list of priorities. 

Fermentation management is a large research priority for the new fiscal year, which includes phenolic measurement and management, influence of yeast strains, control of microbiological spoilage and more. Another wine research priority is aroma and flavor compounds in wine, which includes topics like the impact of filtration options on wine quality, smoke and other wine taint analysis, and optimizing sensory compounds in wine.

On the vineyard side, research priorities include viticulture production efficiency and profitability, pest control for sustainable and organic vineyards, climate impacts on viticulture, and mechanization for both vineyards and wineries.  The program’s current funding cycle, which began July 1, provided more than $1 million in research grants to scientists with Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program.   View the complete priority list below.

July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

Fermentation Management

• Phenolic measurement and management
• Yeast strains, including indigenous (influence on fermentation, sensory properties, etc.)
• Management of microbiological spoilage (Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, etc.)
• Management at winery of diseased/disordered fruit (Botrytis, bunch rot, shrivel)
• Impact/management of nutrients on fermentation (e.g. fermentation adjuvants)
• Fermentation management and monitoring (cap extraction, process control, real-time methods, etc.)

Aroma & Flavor Compounds in Wine

• Impact of various filtration options on wine quality (chemistry, mouth feel, oxygen impact, etc.) • Vineyard-derived sulfur off aromas—avoidance and removal
• Optimizing sensory compounds in wine (e.g. role of glutathione on oxidation)
• Smoke taint analysis and removal

Viticulture Production Efficiency and Profitability

• Impact of canopy management/mechanization on wine quality
• Improve water use efficiency/water savings to optimize grape production and wine flavors • Impact on vine health from water quality (salinity, alkalinity, others)
• Develop nutrient management for optimal vine health
• Develop/assess labor-savings crop estimation tool
• Berry and sour shrivel
• Optimize clonal selections for Washington State
• Impact of field grafting (vinifera to vinifera)

Disease, Insect, and Vertebrate Control (including sustainable and organic)

• Develop strategies for viral disease management (preventing spread, replanting, impact on vinehealth, developing vector control, etc.)

• Develop/refine strategies for all pests (insect, weeds) with economic impact potential, with emphasis on stable, biological systems.

• Trunk canker disease management
• Management of powdery mildew and Botrytis (early detection, efficacy of new fungicides,

resistance management, etc.)
• Develop nematode management strategies (efficacy, economic thresholds, resistant rootstock)• Develop effective control of birds, deer, gophers, and other vertebrate

Climate Impacts on Site/Viticulture

• Optimum light and heat exposure of fruit
• Impact of climate variability on fruit maturity, dormancy, phenology, pest/disease management• Winter trunk injury and secondary infections (e.g. crown gall)
• Develop decision support system for inversion, frost protection (i.e. alert system)

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