Skip to main content Skip to navigation

AgWeatherNet, Riesling, Taste of WSU

Posted by | August 7, 2008

Aussie Viticulturists Pick Up Tips from WSU

Data from AgWeatherNet's statewide system of weather stations is displayed on user-customizable maps. Gary Grove, center, is the director of AgWeatherNet. Will Corsi, bottom, AgWeatherNet technical coordinator, near a recording station.

Data from AgWeatherNet’s statewide system of weather stations is displayed on user-customizable maps. Gary Grove, center, is the director of AgWeatherNet. Will Corsi, bottom, AgWeatherNet technical coordinator, near a recording station.

WSU plant pathologist Gary Grove recently lent his expertise to the Australian viticultural industry.

Speaking in Mudgee, New South Wales, Grove addressed about 50 wine grape growers about best practices in viticulture. Mudgee, about 160 miles northeast of Sydney, is in Australian wine country.

Grove pointed out that WSU, in collaboration with partners across the state, has established the 115-station-strong AgWeatherNet, the data from which is publicly available via a WSU Web site. Australia’s wine-grape growing regions have nothing similar.

“Growers use the network for frost management and weather prediction. It gives them a much better insight about when to spray, when to harvest. Sensors can detect when spores carrying the fungus, powdery mildew are in the air. It reduces viticulture costs in avoiding waste of chemicals and time. Given the high cost of fuel, it can save growers money in spraying only when necessary,” Grove told the Mudgee Guardian.

“Competition in the Australian and global grape industry is increasing rapidly, and it is essential that growers stay ahead of the game,” Grove added.

Jamie Hudson, viticultural manager for Petersons Wines, told the Guardian he and his fellow growers have “looked at setting up a system similar to Washington’s but it was cost prohibitive. Unfortunately there is no funding available in NSW to establish a network.”

“It would be great for growers to have a second sight about when to spray and when to harvest. Chemicals have become expensive and most growers are cutting back,” Hudson said.

The “second sight” AgWeatherNet provides Washington growers is based on the over 100 stations throughout the state (including several recently installed in western Washington). The data generated by the network is coupled with disease models, which help predict potential outbreaks based on the many years of data collected by WSU and other scientists.

The aggregate network, Grove said, “makes possible the accurate monitoring of field conditions, making those conditions available to the public, and making possible the development of value-added products such as the powdery mildew disease prediction models,” Grove said.

AgWeatherNet has proven its worth by accurately predicting disease outbreaks, such as the grapevine powdery mildew infection of late May 2007.

AgWeatherNet is publicly available and free to use. For more information, visit http://weather.wsu.edu/.

The Return of Riesling

Map of Washington showing the Puget Sound growing region and ripe Riesling grapes.

Map of Washington showing the Puget Sound growing region and ripe Riesling grapes.

What’s an AVA? An American Viticultural Area is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the United States Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Read more in Wikepedia: http://tinyurl.com/6jon5p.

Among white wines, Riesling has the fastest growing market share, according to market watchers AC Nielsen. Although traditionally grown and made in Germany, production in Washington and other wine regions are leading the resurgence by producing a dryer, more food-friendly vintage.

At a recent summit in Seattle, hosted by Chateau Ste. Michelle, Riesling growers, producers and enthusiasts gathered to discuss ageability, food pairings, how climate and soil effect taste, and coming up with a Riesling Taste Scale that informs consumers of the relative dryness or sweetness of a particular wine.

WSU’s Gary Moulton points out that the Puget Sound region has similar growing conditions to Germany, so the early-maturing Riesling has been an ideal grape for the state’s newest AVA.

Moulton is the author of “Growing Grapes for Wine and Table in the Puget Sound Region,” available for download via http://tinyurl.com/5k5233.

Viticulture and enology students have numerous opportunities to learn Riesling viticultural techniques and white winemaking through internships offered by the state’s wine industry. Check http://tinyurl.com/5ffyq8 for more information on currently available internships.

A Taste of WSU, Aug. 28

We’ll be at Benaroya Hall in Seattle on Aug. 28. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate the contributions WSU makes everyday in communities across the Evergreen State.

A Taste of WSU, August 28 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle
A Taste of WSU, August 28 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. Get more information, including a list of participating chefs, by visiting http://tinyurl.com/5uh4pl

Sample from the bounty of Washington-produced beverages and fine foods prepared by several of the Seattle area’s premier chefs.

A delicious meal may seem like magic, but often it is the result of close collaborations between scientists, farmers, chefs and consumers.

Enjoy great food while learning more about myriad ways that WSU Extension, the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, and local producers and purveyors work together to give you, the consumer, the freshest, most flavorful food available.

For more information, and to register for the event, please visit: https://ocrs.wsu.edu/Signup/?eventid=410.