What is in this article?:
- Virginia Tech to lead multi-state grape, wine project
- Practical means of production
- Major research funding
• According to Tony Wolf, professor of viticulture and project director, the five-year project seeks to create, refine, and encourage industry adoption of grape and wine production practices that integrate research-based recommendations with key market drivers to achieve a robust and sustainable grape and wine industry in the region.
• Virginia currently ranks fifth nationally in wine grape production, and its grape and wine industry has a total economic impact of more than $362 million per year. In addition to strengthening rural communities through employment and spin-off benefits to the service sector, the state’s vineyards and 180 wineries attract tourism and help preserve green space.
Practical means of production
Research conducted in Virginia will focus on what Wolf describes as vine “balance” — achieving a desirable combination of leaf area and crop to promote optimal grape quality and wine quality potential. “Balance is an elusive goal in environments that have unpredictable, but often surplus moisture,” explained Wolf. The research explores practical means by which growers could more predictably measure and attain balance, while reducing the amount of labor and other vineyard inputs.
Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology, under the direction of Peter Sforza, is also involved with the project. The center will expand and further refine a new Web-based, interactive geographic information system (GIS) platform that allows users to evaluate their property for vineyard suitability and match the property’s location to appropriate grape varieties. “Not only will users be able to review the climatic and physical attributes or liabilities of their site, but we’ll be able to offer recommendations on which grape varieties could be grown at the property, based on length of growing season, summer heat, and winter low-temperature considerations,” said Wolf.
Other partners in the project include North Carolina State University, University of Maryland, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.