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.