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  October 2013                  Common Ground; Innovative Research                        NGWI.ORG

In This Issue
A Farm Bill Conference at Last!
NGWI Research Focus
NGWI's Process for Creating Grape Research Projects

Calendar of Events

Southeastern United Grape & Wine Symposium
Dobson, NC
November 5-8, 2013

Managing Vineyard Trunk Disease Sympoium
November 5, 2013
Lodi Winegrape Commission
Lodi, CA

Wine + Grape EXPO
Napa, CA
November 14, 2013

North Coast Wine Industry Expo
Santa Rosa, CA
December 5, 2013

NGWI Annual Meeting of the Members
Sacramento, CA
January 27, 2014


Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
Sacramento, CA
January 28-30, 2014

Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers Annual Meeting and Convention
Three Rivers Convention Center
Kennewick, WA February 5-7, 2014
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers
Trade Show
Toyota Center, Kennewick, WA February 5-6, 2014 

Midwest Grape & Wine Conference & Trade Show
St. Charles, MO
February 11-13, 2014

Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association Annual Conference & Trade Show
Dallas, TX
February 13-15, 2014

Michigan Grape & Wine Conference
Acme, MI
February 26-28, 2014

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The National Grape and Wine Initiative focuses on research and extension to strengthen the US grape and grape product industries in partnership with academics and government. Grapes are the nation's leading specialty crop and all industry segments including raisin, juice, fresh grape and wine created the NGWI coalition to drive research for maximum productivity, sustainability and competitiveness. NGWI aims to lead the world in consumer value and quality.  

A Farm Bill Conference at Last!

While things continue to smolder in Washington DC, we now know that a full conference committee has been named to try to find a path through the chasm between the House and Senate approach to the Farm Bill approach -- particularly on nutrition programs. The first meeting of the House and Senate conference committee on the Farm Bill is expected to take place Wednesday, October 30th. There are many issues which divide Conferees along geographic, partisan, and other lines, but traditionally members of Congress have found a way to bridge their differences to craft a bill. Adding to the urgency is the fact that the President has named it as one of his three top line priorities.

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance last week went on record in support of initiatives and programs related to market access and expansion, production research, combating invasive pests and diseases, increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, promotional tools, and infrastructure investment. NGWI coordinates with the Alliance on research issues. The Alliance outlined its position on several provisions in both the Senate and House-passed bills. Of particular importance are research issues of critical importance for grape and wine industry, they are the following: 
  • Reauthorization and inclusion of mandatory funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), along with policy changes related to transparency and industry participation in grant review process
  • Enhanced funding of the Plant Pest and Disease Program along with the National Clean Plant Network
  • Funding levels for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program contained in H.R. 2642. 
NGWI Research Focus

The NGWI Research Theme Committees are gearing up to consider additional research needs. Meanwhile, in June the NGWI Board has affirmed that its top priorities for the next round of SCRI grant funding are:
  • Spatial crop load measurement and management - the project referenced above which has been wholly funded by grape industry contributions, and
  • Wood-canker diseases of fruit and nut crops - the SCRI project under Dr. Kendra Baumgartner, which received only two years of federal funding.

The Board also is interested in two other potential new project proposals pending:

  • Cold hardiness
  • Understanding fruit quality

With or without federal government programs, the research concerns of the national grape and wine industry continue to drive our work here at NGWI.  

Snapping 5 images per second --  Photo Courtesy of
Dr. Stephen Nuske, CMU

For instance the industry-funded project to develop sensor technology which will  allow easy and accurate measurement of vineyard canopy and crop load made great progress this season. The visual scanner tested about ten times the acreage as last year according to Dr. Stephen Nuske. 

In another component of this project, the work of Dr. Terry Bates and Dr. James Taylor on spatial crop load management and crop estimation with yield monitors has added a whole new layer of information to the process of achieving vine balance in New York and Pennsylvania Concords. Those who used this crop estimation, and followed up with thinning, improved their ability to ripen the crop.  A higher percentage of ripe fruit meant an estimated $9.6 to $15 million to Lake Erie Concord growers this year, according to Farm Business Management specialist Kevin Martin.

A meeting to review the sensor and mechanization work and consider options for the next year has been scheduled for November 4th.

NGWI's Process for Creating Grape Research Projects    

NGWI operates in a somewhat different fashion than other industry research programs, and we thought we would dedicate an article in this newsletter outlining the way our programs function.


A fundamental principle of NGWI has been an "industry-driven research agenda," driving research by pulling the right people together to develop, implement and extend research. NGWI works to optimize the opportunities for collaboration on national research projects and priorities with a special focus on projects which no one grape industry segment would be able to undertake on its own. NGWI builds closer alignment between the research community and industry, working together to establish project objectives and desired outcomes as part of the proposal development process.


The NGWI process seeks to accomplish the following:

Coordination and creation of funding for projects which are game-changing, and generally national in scope. 
  • Creation of a process of collaboration to agree about key needs, key assets/abilities and then allocation of existing resources to get the needed work done. This means collaboration of public, private and academic resources to develop an efficient and lasting infrastructure for management of critical research.  
  • Inclusion of the Department of Agriculture's intra-mural (ARS), and extra-mural funding entities (NIFA), along with universities, cooperative extension and the grape industry agreeing through a formalized process on research priorities, identifying technical capacity and directing resources to them. 

 The Process

  1. Each year, NGWI Research Theme Committees identify research priorities. Membership in the Research Theme Committees stresses both regional and grape commodity representation. Our work is captured through the deliberations of five NGWI Research Theme Committees:     
    • Understanding & Improving Quality;
    • Consumer Insights, Nutrition & Community;
    • Production Efficiency;
    • Sustainable Practices; and
    • Extension & Outreach.     

If you are interested in serving on one of NGWI's Research Theme Committees please contact us at 

  1. After research priorities are established, each year they are distributed to researchers who have expressed interest in conducting work with the grape and grape products industry. In addition, these research priorities are posted on the NGWI website. NGWI invites researchers to develop research proposals to address one or more of our research priorities. The appropriate NGWI Theme Committee will review the outlined proposal, and make a recommendation whether to sponsor, sponsor and fund, or support the project. The NGWI Research Committee reviews all recommendations, and moves them forward to the NGWI Board for final approval. Projects fall into three categories: NGWI sponsored, NGWI sponsored and funded, and NGWI supported. 

NGWI sponsored projects:  

This top designation is used for topics meeting core or strategic NGWI research needs or national research priorities, and is also based on the strength of application.


The NGWI Theme Committee Chair will approach a specific researcher (Principal Investigator or PI) regarding a researchable topic.

Project team: either developed by PI alone, or in cooperation with the Theme Committee chair, or NGWI management.

  • NGWI members self-identify for participation in any given project. 
  • Eye toward the multi-institutional, trans-disciplinary projects.
  • NGWI management works with the principal investigator, coordinating meeting schedules, reading draft proposals to assure that all requirements are met, and works to secure matching contributions for the project.
  • NGWI coordinates letters of support and commitment of resources for the PI, and helps coordinate on-going input in the form of participation on the project's Advisory Committee. NGWI helps publicize updates on project progress and highlights achievements of individual researchers.
  • NGWI's Extension & Outreach Committee aids in the extension of findings.

NGWI sponsored and funded projects:

Process is the same as outlined above, but NGWI provides full funding for the project due to:

  • Project grant application not successful
  • No alternative funding sources available

NGWI supported projects:

This second tier designation is used for regional projects, projects with industry-specific outcomes with regional application, or projects which address relevant, but not core NGWI initiatives. Support may be in the form of a simple letter of support or serving on a project advisory committee.

  • Typically developed independently by the researcher
  • NGWI Board members may bring these to the attention of the organization