Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Economic Impact, Water Clore Center, Best Viticulture Paper

Posted by | February 21, 2008

Wine Industry Has Premium Impact

Grow 'em up right: for over 70 years WSU researchers and educators have been partnering with growers, vintners and marketers to build Washington's premium wine industry.
Grow 'em up right: for over 70 years WSU researchers and educators have been partnering with growers, vintners and marketers to build Washington's premium wine industry.

Washington’s wine industry has a national economic impact of $4.7 billion per year, according to a study released this month by MKF Research. The study was underwritten by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, the Washington Wine Commission and other key organizations in the state’s wine and grape industry. Statewide, the study gauges the industry’s economic impact at $3 billion annually.

“Washington’s wine and grape industry,” the study reports, “has a ‘multiplier’ effect, extending in a broad network of economic benefits to Washington as well as nationwide. The wine and grape industry becomes income for other workers and firms, who spend more money on other goods and services.”

“One of the important messages is the fact that we need to routinely measure ourselves and stand up and be counted,” Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, told the Associated Press. “Without this kind of proof of our economic impact to the state, it’s difficult to continue growing.”

Industry growth has been explosive, going from about 20 wineries in 1981 to about 500 today.

“2007 was another banner year for the Washington wine industry. A record 127,150 tons of wine grapes were harvested this fall and, the experts tell us, it’s not just quantity but very likely quality that will send 2007 into the record books,” said Dan Bernardo, dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences and interim director of WSU’s program in viticulture and enology.

“Now that we have verification of our economic worth and growth, you’ll see other people with renewed industry in Washington state, both on the growing side and the winery side, and on the tourism side as well,” Scharlau said.

“The fact that consumers are becoming wine savvy, it’s becoming more a part of our culture … and the fact that Washington wine is so high quality and pairs with food, it puts us in a good position to compete,” Robin Pollard, the Washington Wine Commission’s executive director, told the Associated Press.

The state-of-the-industry report states that in 1998, Washington surpassed New York as the second largest wine producing state in the nation. Washington is technically the third largest overall wine processor in the United States in 2006 based on gallons produced, but still second in terms of wine produced from in-state grapes. New York is second largest in overall wine production due to its processing of bulk wine from out of state grapes.

“For over 70 years, WSU has partnered with the grape growers and winemakers of Washington, and the partnership continues,” said Bernardo. “When we tell our story, we’re also telling the story of the Washington wine industry.”

For more of the story, check out this short video on WSU’s partnerships with the Washington wine industry.

Voice of the Vine is watching water. This article is the second in a two-part series about vineyard irrigation research going on deep in Washington wine country at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture and Research Center. The first article in the series is available in the Voice of the Vine archive.

Water, Water Everywhere?

II. Please Do Adjust Your Monitors

Contrary to the old saying, water definitely isn’t everywhere. In agricultural enterprises, where every drop of input is precious, the question is whether scarce water is being applied in the right place at the right time?

Is scarce water is being applied in the right place at the right time? Davenport and her colleague’s study of moisture monitoring was just published in Hort Science. Download a pdf of the study here.  Learn more about the range of Davenport’s research interests at her home page here. Learn more about WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center here.
Is scarce water is being applied in the right place at the right time?

For soil scientist Joan Davenport, based at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, the answer is a definite maybe. Because vineyard managers are monitoring soil moisture directly under drip lines, they may not be seeing what the plants “sees,” said Davenport.

There’s good reason to place moisture monitors under drip lines, since growers don’t want them hanging out in the lanes between rows, where they’re more likely to get flattened by a passing tractor.

Davenport isn’t asking growers to move monitoring into heavy traffic, though, just a skoosh either side of the drip line. Since 2002, Davenport and her colleagues have been monitoring water available to the vine under controlled parameters. They found that monitoring directly under drip lines consistently gives a false impression of the soil moisture actually available to the plant.

A combination of low soil moisture and long hang time may result in a couple of undesirables, namely shriveling of the fruit and an off, raisiny flavor.

Davenport doesn’t doubt that Washington viticulturists will adopt science that helps insure continued quality. “We’ve got lots of acreage in grapes, a lot of wineries, but we’re a very close knit bunch,” she said.

“We’ve quantified things for our area. This is the first defining study in arid conditions that shows where to monitor for soil moisture. We’ve always got early adopters who really value the science of viticulture, and they help us do the heavy lifting of fine tuning techniques so that quantified advice can be given. And in the longer term, they encourage and teach others.”

Davenport and her colleague’s study of moisture monitoring was just published in Hort Science. Check out the complete paper.

WSU to Partner with Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center

<a href="

The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center will educate and promote the areas of viticulture, enology and culinary practices. Visit the Center's Web site at: http://www.walterclore.com/

The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center will educate and promote the areas of viticulture, enology and culinary practices.

Washington State University will join forces with those leading the creation of the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center at Prosser to highlight the breadth, depth and quality of all aspects of Washington agriculture.

Dan Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, announced formalization of the partnership here today at the annual meeting of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers.

“Washington desperately needs an icon that can represent the diversity and quality of its agricultural enterprise,” Bernardo said. “The science behind the food is a critical, compelling story to tell. With the completion of the Clore Center, we will have a world-class stage, in eastern Washington, on which to present our heritage as well as the evolving research that will improve our future.”

Bernardo said WSU is “very excited to join with the Clore Center’s Board of Directors and the entire state’s food, wine, agriculture and tourism industries in making this visionary project a reality. The center is a natural extension of the foundational work Dr. Walter Clore did to help found the Washington wine industry, and it provides many opportunities to highlight the science and education behind the entire agriculture and food system within the state.”

The late Walter Clore, who was a WSU faculty member for nearly 40 years, was named the “Father of the Washington Wine Industry” by an act of the Washington State Legislature in 2001, in recognition of his efforts proving that premium wine grapes could be grown in Washington state. Members of the viticulture and enology community from across the state began plans in 2002 to develop a center named for him to highlight the burgeoning Washington wine industry.

Visit the Walter Clore Center Web site.

Keller and Mills Win Best Viticulture Paper

<a href="

Keller and Mills win best-paper award for research on how to approach grape vine pruning after cold damage has occurred.

Keller and Mills win best-paper award for research on how to approach grape vine pruning after cold damage has occurred.

Deep in Washington wine country, WSU researchers are adding value to the burgeoning wine industry. The latest evidence of that comes from the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, which just announced its Best Paper Award.

This year’s award for best paper goes to viticulturist Markus Keller and research technology supervisor Lynn J. Mills for their paper, “Effect of Pruning on Recovery and Productivity of Cold-Injured Merlot Grapevines.”

“The paper presents research on how to approach pruning after cold damage has occurred,” Mills said.

The committee that selected the paper commended Keller and Mills on their “excellent mix of straightforward scientific experimentation leading to applicable results for winegrowers in many regions with sporadic or frequent problems with winter frost damage. The research revises some traditional opinions on re-establishing productivity for injured vines and is expected to have strong impact on viticulture and vineyard management practices in cool climates,” according to the American Society for Enology and Viticulture Web site.