KENNEWICK, Wash. — Washington State University research representation was strong at the recent WineVit conference, with many faculty, staff, and students taking home awards for their hard work.
The four-day wine industry event kicked off with a business development session that included a presentation from Jessica Murray, a WSU Carson College of Business post-doctoral researcher. Murray spoke about agritourism, why memory formation can increase value for winery visitors, and how wineries can use elements of nostalgia, uniqueness, and intangibility to foster enjoyable experiences.
WineVit’s second day began with a morning wine tasting and panel presentation on tempranillo, one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. Geraldine Diverres, a PhD candidate in WSU’s Department of Horticulture, described tempranillo’s phenology, its susceptibility to environmental stress, pests, and disease, as well as other viticultural features.
Student and faculty research posters from the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) were displayed for the event’s duration, and attendees were treated to a presentation session where students spoke briefly about their research findings.
The students are clearly excited about their work.
Juliana Pazos, a School of Food Science PhD student originally from Argentina, is studying the impact of picking decisions and winemaking choices on wine’s chemical and sensorial properties. Pazos said her favorite part of the project was the sensory analysis component.
Food science PhD student Mackenzie Aragon is exploring how different toasting methods for oak alternative products affect volatile composition. Aragon said she enjoyed analyzing the final data, adding that the research helps winemakers have more control over their final product.
Other student research topics included food science PhD student Charity Maosah’s examination of how reverse osmosis, beta-glucosidase, and absorptive activated charcoal can reduce smoke-related compounds in wine, and biological systems engineering PhD student Priyanka Upadhyaya’s study of automated lag-phase detection and yield estimation in wine grapes.
An award ceremony followed the research presentations, with several graduate students receiving recognition.
Horticulture PhD candidate Bernadette Gagnier secured first place for her research on cover crop alternatives for nematode management; Stephen Onayemi, a Department of Entomology PhD student, won best oral presentation for his work on grape mealybug mating disruption; and Danielle Fox, a food science PhD student, took home the people’s choice award for her work comparing pre- and post-fermentation alcohol adjustments on the aromatic chemistry and profiles of sauvignon blanc.
Meanwhile, Selina Oronia, an undergraduate at Columbia Basin College (CBC) who recently completed an internship at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC), received first place for her efforts to educate growers about beneficial insects in Pacific Northwest vineyards.
Other student winners included:
- Pierre Davadant, horticulture PhD student: Second Place Graduate Winner; Impact of foliar application of nitrogen on grape and wine composition
- Alexa McDaniel, horticulture PhD candidate: Third Place Graduate Winner; Managing powdery mildew with ultraviolet-C radiation without compromising fruit quality
- Melissa Manzo Parra, a CBC student who recently completed an internship at WSU IAREC: Second Place Undergraduate Winner; Internship experience in Washington vineyards
WSU faculty and staff were also recognized. Viticulture Extension Specialist Michelle Moyer took first place for her exploration of rootstocks’ effect on scion nutrient status, and second place for her Extension work advising Inland Desert Nursery on educating growers about rootstock ordering and quality checks. Third place went to Lynn Mills, a scientific assistant in the Department of Horticulture who has helped develop the WSU grapevine cold hardiness program from historical and real-time data.
As conference attendees enjoyed a meal and a glass or two of wine during the Leadership & Legacy Luncheon on the conference’s final day, Department of Viticulture and Enology Professor Thomas Henick-Kling was honored with the industry service award.
Additional WineVit coverage:
See what Founding Chair Jean Dodson Peterson had to say about the future of WSU’s V&E department, and check out the faculty research presentations.