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    February 2015                           Common Ground; Innovative Research                  NGWI.ORG

In This Issue

Calendar of Events

Northern Grapes Project Webinar
March 10, 2015
12:00 Noon Eastern (11:00 am Central), 7:00 pm Eastern (6:00 pm Central)

Eastern Winery Exposition
March 17-20, 2015
Syracuse, NY

2015 National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership Conference
March 24-26, 2015
Lodi, CA

Alabama Wineries and Grape Growers Annual Conference
March 28, 2015
Birmingham, AL

NGWI Spring Board Meeting
April 15-16, 2015
Washington, DC

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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.  

NGWI Elects 2015 Officers to the Board of Directors

Then NGWI annual meeting was held January 26th in Sacramento, CA. By unanimous vote of NGWI members, John Aguirre, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) was elected as chair of the initiative" I look forward to helping advance NGWI's mission," stated John Aguirre. "The competition for limited research dollars is fierce, so it's vitally important that NGWI continue to unify the U.S. grape industries around a focused research agenda."  


NGWI 2015 Officers (l-r) John Aguirre, Rick Stark, Vicky Scharlau, Craig Bardwell, Jean-Mari Peltier, Richard Smith

NGWI also announced the following elected officers for 2015: Craig Bardwell of the National Grape Cooperative/Welch's as Vice Chair, Richard Smith of California's Paraiso Vineyards as Secretary-Treasurer and Rick Stark of Sun-Maid Growers of California as Past Chair. In addition re-election of Board members, a new NGWI member, Marshall Miller (Thornhill Properties) was elected to fill a vacant At Large position.


In his annual address, Rick Stark of Sun-Maid, the 2014 Chairman of the NGWI Board, noted that the evolution of NGWI has been an interesting journey. He said that, "the organization was initially composed of volunteers and part time staff. It has evolved into a nationwide coalition representing all segments of the grape industry including: raisin, juice, fresh grape and wine." Jean-Mari Peltier was hired as the first full-time President, to manage NGWI and take it to the next level. Stark believes "Peltier has done an outstanding job keeping NGWI's message in front of policymakers and regulators." Today, NGWI continues to set research priorities and work with researchers and government entities to obtain funding for industry critical projects. "Along the way we have debated issues, but at the end of the day we continue to be successful in designing a tent which fits us all." said Rick Stark.

Grape Breeding and Human Nutrition in a Flash

The NGWI Annual meeting featured research "flash presentations" by prominent researchers from the University of California, Davis. Designed to be quick and concise, the presentations covered breeding for resistance to Pierce's Disease, as well as powdery mildew resistance. A final presentation outlined work in human nutrition from the Foods for Health Institute which may hold promise for learning more about the benefits of grape consumption.


Grape Breeding

The first presentation was made by Dr. Andy Walker, a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Dr.

Dr. Andrew Walker 

Walker's rootstock and scion breeding program studies the genetics of resistance to a wide range of vineyard pests, looking at their genetic diversity and aggressiveness, as well as the host/pest interactions with grape species. His lab is actively involved in breeding wine, table, raisin grapes for resistance to Pierce's disease and powdery mildew. Lab activities include classical breeding and inheritance studies, the development of rapid resistance assays, field trials of promising rootstock and scion selections, DNA marker analysis and mapping, and characterization of candidate resistance genes. 

Walker briefly explained the preliminary work in his lab, which identified a single dominant gene resistant to Pierce's disease in Vitis arizonica, for which they genetically mapped and developed markers. They then used DNA markers linked to resistance to rapidly identify resistant and susceptible progeny in crosses between V. vinifera and V. arizonica. His lab then used aggressive growing techniques to get fruit and seeds in the plant's second year, while using DNA markers each generation to eliminate susceptible and identify resistant plants. Within 12 years of crossing back to V. vinifera cultivars, Walker attained selections that are about 97% V. Vinifera. In so doing, he moved from first generation grapes with peppery, herbaceous flavors and blue-purple pigments to grapes with high quality Vinifera character, while possessing strong resistance to Pierce's Disease.

Dr. Dario Cantu 

The second presentation was made by Dario Cantu, an assistant professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, who is a systems biologist with a background in genomics and bioinformatics. Cantu's research group uses genomics, genetics, and bioinformatics to understand plant disease resistance. He also studies how pathogenic microorganisms infect plants, cause disease, and evolve to overcome plant host resistance and chemical control strategies. His integrated, systems-oriented approach provides a novel framework for the development of strategies to achieve durable genetic resistance to important diseases in grape such as powdery and downy mildew.


Cantu uses cutting-edge DNA and RNA sequencing technologies in combination with bioinformatics to sequence, assemble, and analyze the function and structure of plant and microbial genomes. A large number of genes conferring strong resistance have been identified in V. vinifera grapes and other wild species of grape. Cantu explained that he is now working to select the best combination of resistance genes to stack together using traditional marker assisted breeding methods. The combination of multiple and diverse resistance functions will result in varieties with more effective and durable disease resistance.


In addition to looking at genetic resistance in plants, Cantu studies how pathogens cause disease and how pathogen populations evolve in response to strong selective pressure. According to Cantu, understanding how powdery mildew populations evolve is critical to determine the best combination of resistance genes to be stacked together to reduce the likelihood of development of new virulent strains.


Human Nutrition and Grapes 

The final presentation explored how dairy waste products - and potentially grapes and grape products --- may play a critical role in American diets of the future, where management of favorable bacteria in the digestive system will be a key goal.


Dr. Bruce German is a Food Chemist and is the Director of the
Dr. Bruce German 

 Foods for Health Institute, UC Davis.

Dr. German's laboratory group focuses on research seeking to understand how to improve foods and their ability to deliver improved health. He explained how milk evolved to make healthy mammals healthier. According to German, milk is the only biomaterial that has evolved under the Darwinian selective pressure for the specific and sole purpose of nourishing growing mammals. Interestingly, the third most abundant biomolocules in human breast milk are indigestible by babies. These are milk "oligosaccharides", a type of carbohydrate whose purpose is to feed the development of beneficial bacteria in the gut of babies. Putting science into practices, a combination of human milk oligosaccharides plus beneficial bacteria can help vulnerable people, from babies to cancer patients.


With grants from the California dairy industry, Dr. German and his team have evaluated dairy milk constituents, learning that a waste product - liquid whey - contains these valuable oligosaccharides. It appears that these same constituent elements may be present in other food products or processes - including grape pomace.


According to Dr. German, ultimately human nutrition may move to the realm of personal microbiome management. This may be aided by the successful recovery of bioactive compounds, delivering health-promoting functional foods and potentially aiding in waste management by finding alternative uses of today's waste products. Dr. German predicted that selective use of polysaccharides will be a new component of the human diet in "Agriculture 2.0", comprising as much as 5 - 10% of caloric intake. Dr. German concluded by pointing out that our microbiota impact human immune function, metabolism, infection, cognition and mood. "Feeding our microbiota will become a key component of our 21st century diets," according to German.


The complete presentations may be viewed on the NGWI website, click here

National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership 2015 Conference


The National Viticulture and Enology Leadership Conference  (NVEELC) is a professional development gathering of wine, table, and raisin grape extension professionals working within and outside of traditional Cooperative Extension. The 2015 conference will be hosted by the Lodi Winegrape Commission (LWC) and the National Grape & Wine Initiative (NGWI), and will be held in Lodi, California March 24th through 26th.

Convened every year, one purpose of NVEELC is to help viticulture and enology extension professionals stay apprised of industry challenges in other regions and states. Each extension attendee is encouraged to complete a state/region report prior to arriving in Lodi, and will be available to all who attend.


A new feature at this year's meeting, several NGWI-supported research topics ranging from drought adaptation to trunk disease management to grapevine genomics will be reviewed. Researchers on these projects will provide brief updates on current work, findings and future work. The following speakers will update their work on NGWI-supported research projects:      

"Scalable Solutions to Reduce Water Use and Salinity in Wineries" Dr. Gour Choudhury, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo


"New Detection, Research, and Extension Tools for Managing Wood-canker Diseases" Dr. Kendra Baumgartner


"Northern Grapes: integrating viticulture, winemaking and marketing of new cold hardy cultivars" Dr. Tim Martinson


"Accelerating Grape Cultivar Improvement via Phenotyping Centers and Next Generation Markers" Hans Walter-Peterson


"Improved Grape and Wine Quality in a Challenging Environment" Dr. Tremain Hatch (tentative)


"Developing Sustainable Vineyard Water Management Strategies for Limited and Impaired Water Supplies" Dr. Jim Ayars


Wednesday, there will be a day-long tour, starting with a visit to the Trinchero Family Estates' new Lodi winery and distribution facility. Following is a vineyard visit in the Sacramento Bay Delta area hosted by Vino Farms. Other stops will include Michael & David Winery, a well-established winery producing a selection of wines made from Lodi Rules sustainable certified winegrapes, Heritage Oak Winery, a small-scale operation focusing on direct-to-consumer marketing and agri-tourism, a visit to the eastern side of Lodi, hosted by Nestor Enterprises who farms winegrapes across  Lodi, and finally a winery visit and dinner at Lange Twins Family Winery and Vineyard, which is know for their sustainability branding and winery design. 


Another focus this year will be on extension strategies. The conference will conclude with an informative session about nine different grower outreach programs that are advancing the leading edge of creative and innovative extension. The goal of this year's NVEELC is to provide new insight on how to fund, design, deliver, and evaluate extension programs.


For more information, or to register for this event, please access the following:  


For other details feel free to contact the NGWI office at 916-446-3900.

Northern Grapes Project Webinar

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

12:00 Noon Eastern (11:00 am Central)

7:00 pm Eastern (6:00 pm Central)


Anna Katharine Mansfield
Wines produced from red hybrid grapes are often criticized for light body, poor structure, and insufficient ageability. The recent discovery of tannin-binding compounds in hybrid grapes suggest that traditional processing techniques, like extended maceration or enzyme treatments, are largely ineffective at increasing tannin concentrations in these wines. Exogenous tannin products offer one means of tannin enhancement, but guidelines for most products are designed for V. vinifera cultivars and are inadequate for hybrid wine production. This webinar, presented by Anna Katharine Mansfield of Cornell University, will review the current understanding of phenolic extraction and loss in hybrid wine fermentations, and the latest findings in optimized tannin addition.


You may register via the link below:

Registering for one Northern Grapes Webinar will place you on the mailing list, and you will receive announcements and connection instruction for all further Northern Grapes Webinars.