2023 WSU Wine Science Highlights

January: WSU grape smoke exposure expert Tom Collins named Innovator of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Tom Collins stands next to winemaking equipment
Tom Collins

Washington State University’s Tom Collins received the Innovator of the Year award alongside colleagues Elizabeth Tomasino of Oregon State University and Anita Oberholster of University of California, Davis for influential research on grape smoke exposure mitigation.

“This is the first time I’ve experienced something like this,” said Collins, who is based at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center. “We’re here because we enjoy the work and believe we can make a difference for the industry. It’s nice to be recognized and know people appreciate our progress.” 

February: WSU students, faculty share wine science research at WineVit

Serving as a catalyst for growth and innovation in the Washington wine industry, the annual WineVit conference draws in a multitude of WSU faculty, students, and staff, as well as grape growers, tasting room managers, and others. During February’s meeting, WSU V&E Department Founding Chair Jean Dodson Peterson detailed an exciting future, describing the overarching goals of the department’s learning objectives and highlighting the importance of student diversity.

A person gestures toward her poster, as another person stands in front of her, looking at the poster.
A student discusses her research during WineVit.

Multiple sessions demonstrated WSU scientists’ determination to help Washington’s grape growers be successful and prosperous, including talks about leafroll disease management, clean plant certification, grapevine phenology, and the university’s AgWeatherNet service.

Meanwhile, WSU students had the opportunity to present their wine science research via a poster session, with several winning awards.

April: WSU Viticulture Extension Specialist Michelle Moyer receives award, promotion to full professorship

Michelle Moyer earned promotion to full professorship and received the Faculty Excellence in Extension Award from the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.

Michelle Moyer holds her award while standing in front of red banners with the WSU cougar head logo next to Dean Powers.
Michelle Moyer (left) holds her award while standing next to CAHNRS Dean Wendy Powers.

“This award inspires me to continue working just as hard, if not harder,” Moyer said. “It also demonstrates that the V&E department has a very strong presence in the state and that we’re dedicated to building a robust Extension program.”

Moyer’s promotion to full professor represents a typical career progression for many faculty members, but she emphasizes the flexibility that the advancement allows for long-term projects.

“As full professor, I’ll be able to tackle bigger challenges and research solutions that might take more time to come to fruition,” Moyer said.

June: Scientific Assistant Lynn Mills retires from WSU after 40 years

Lynn Mills head shot next to yellow flowers.
Lynn Mills

Lynn Mills began working at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in the 1980s. Throughout four decades, Mills demonstrated her reliability and extensive knowledge through involvement in numerous projects. She also helped design WSU’s custom grapevine cold hardiness service for growers, a project she ran independently for more than 30 years.

“It has been a good career,” said Mills. “Time goes by so fast, it’s unbelievable. What I’ll miss most is the people.”

July: Professor Michelle Moyer appointed as ASEV board president

Studio headshot of WSU professor, Michelle Moyer.
Michelle Moyer

Michelle Moyer was confirmed as board president of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV). She has been an ASEV member since 2009 and served as a board member since 2018. Her program at WSU combines Extension work with applied research to address knowledge gaps and needs across the grape industry.

“My career in supporting the grape and wine industries through Extension and research has been wonderful, and I’m grateful for this fantastic opportunity to continue this service by working with the ASEV board as president, to further our mission,” said Moyer.

August: Tom Collins selected as inaugural Jackson Family Wines Endowed Professor

Professional head shot of Tom Collins
Tom Collins

A longtime working relationship between WSU scientist Tom Collins and Jackson Family Wines evolved into the creation of an endowed professorship that recognizes Collins’ impactful wine science research and supports WSU’s V&E department.

“An endowed professorship is a terrific honor, and I’m thrilled to be the recipient,” said Collins. “This is a great opportunity for my program. The endowment provides yearly assistance and flexibility to support projects that arise in the middle of a grant cycle.”

August: Four WSU grad students selected for ASEV scholarships

Collage of a photo of four students. One stands next to a road, one is standing in a field, holding a bucket and equipment with a pickup truck, a driveway, and a line of trees behind, one is standing in front of wine barrels, and one is a professional head shot.
Clockwise from top left: Ramesh Pilli, Jonathan Brumley, Stephen Onayemi, and Bernadette Gagnier

WSU grad students Bernadette Gagnier, Stephen Onayemi, Jonathan Brumley, and Ramesh Pilli were among the 25 individuals selected to receive highly competitive scholarships from ASEV.

These four students are clearly passionate about their research, which includes sustainable nematode management; using artificially produced pheromones to stop the spread of grape leafroll disease; finding a natural method for lowering wine’s alcohol concentration; and helping the tree fruit industry overcome heat-related challenges.

September: Washington Wine Industry Foundation chooses six WSU students for scholarships

A collage of five people. One is a man in a vineyard, two are headshots of young women, one is a headshot of a man in a tie and suit, and one is a woman in a field, holding a bucket and equipment.
Clockwise, from top left: Pierre Davadant, Madison Shaw, Megan Meharg, Bernadette Gagnier, and Stephen Onayemi

Six of the eight students awarded $47,000 in scholarship funding from the Washington Wine Industry Foundation are attending WSU.

This year’s WSU scholarship awardees include Eva Rickard, a wine and beverage business management major in the Carson College of Business, as well as five CAHNRS students: Bernadette Gagnier, Stephen Onayemi, Madison Shaw, Megan Meharg, and Pierre Davadant.

“These scholarship winners embody the spirit of scholarship, innovation, and cooperation that drives our industry forward,” said Washington Wine Industry Foundation Executive Director Vicky Scharlau. “We are excited to see how their contributions will shape the future of the Washington wine industry.”

December: Celebrate the holidays with Blended Learning student-crafted wines!

A bottle of wine with a label that has the WSU cougar head logo and text "Blended Learning viticulture and enology 2018 Semillion Yakima Valley."

Those looking for a special wine to celebrate the holidays need search no further than the student-made creations of WSU’s Blended Learning class.

The class name, thought up by one of its first students, is a metaphor for the mix of classroom time and hands-on learning, as well as the literal blending of wine.

Each semester, Blended Learning students decide what type of wine they’ll make, the resources they’ll need, the timeframe, and more. Then, working closely with commercial wineries in Washington, they develop high-quality wines from start to finish.

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