Award-winning WSU research maps suitability of Washington vineyard locations
Selecting a vineyard site is one of the most important decisions for owners — it can make or break them economically.
Washington State University doctoral student of engineering Golnaz Badr is using data on Washington soil, topography and weather to create a state map and scoring system that could help growers take some of the guesswork out of choosing a new vineyard location.
“People are very interested,” Badr said, “especially in an interactive map, so they can zoom in and see their vineyard.”
Working with a team of professors who specialize in weather, grape growing, and crop and soil sciences, Badr began the project in 2011, when she was accepted into the WSU Land, Air, Water Resources & Environmental Engineering Program that focuses on global food industry problems.
“I wanted my Ph.D. studies to do something interesting and useful for viticulture science — something that combined what I’d learned while earning a master’s degree in horticulture and another in geographic information systems, environmental modelling and management,” Badr said. “WSU was already looking for someone to map Washington’s suitability for vineyards, so it was the ideal project for me.”
Badr’s work builds upon a computer model created by Ian Yau, who earned a master’s in soil science from WSU in 2011. Yau compiled georeferenced soil, topography and weather data into a single database, using public data sources.
For example, the soil data used in the model was collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These data, available on the USDA Gridded Soil Survey Geographic Database, offer a variety of useful, location-specific information for growing crops, including available water storage, crop-productivity measures and drought vulnerability.
Washington topography, including slope, aspect and elevation, were derived from the National Elevation Dataset by the U.S. Geological Survey. Slope is the steepness of a piece of land, while aspect is the direction a slope faces, which is a key factor in determining how much sun a location will receive.
In addition to updating the information Yau compiled, Badr replaced the 30 years of monthly weather data from the Western Regional Climate Center that Yau’s model employed. Instead Badr used daily weather data spanning from 1983 to 2012 that she drew from the University of Idaho Gridded Surface Meteorological Dataset.
“The main strength of our model is the inclusion of daily weather data because we were able to do climate zoning based on that,” Badr explained.
Using a scale of zero (“not suitable”) to one hundred (“highly suitable”), Badr rated existing vineyard locations in Washington that she derived from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service CropScape maps. The average score was 55, categorized as “suitable.”
Because the vineyard locations and weather information are from national sources that cannot verify all their data, Badr is now using Google Earth and AgWeatherNet to investigate questionable results, weed out errors and improve the mapping model. She wants to ensure the parameters that went into making the map actually reflect what’s out in the field.
Badr plans to finish evaluating the initial results by early 2016, with the goal of making the map a helpful, public resource for people who want to establish vineyards in Washington.
Commercial growers looking to site a new vineyard have access to the compiled data through WSU viticulture extension specialist Michelle Moyer. She reviews the environmental factors that contribute to a potential site’s suitability and translates those for growers to help them decide whether to plant vines.
A panel of growers awarded Badr’s research first place in the graduate poster category at the Washington Association of Grape Growers annual conference in Kennewick, Feb. 10-13, 2015. (See a full listing of award recipients.)
The lead advisor on the project is Gerrit Hoogenboom, director of AgWeatherNet. Badr is also advised by viticulturists Markus Keller and Michelle Moyer and soil scientists Joan Davenport and Richard Rupp. The team is based in Prosser at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, except Rupp, who is at WSU Pullman.
– Erika Holmes
March 19, 2015
We apologize for any confusion caused by the vineyard suitability map that was originally published with this article. The research is ongoing, as the article states:
“Because the vineyard locations and weather information are from national sources that cannot verify all their data, Badr is now using Google Earth and AgWeatherNet to investigate questionable results, weed out errors and improve the mapping model. She wants to ensure the parameters that went into making the map actually reflect what’s out in the field.”
However, we should have included a disclaimer in the map caption that it is not complete and not to be used until it is scientifically validated. We have removed the image to prevent further confusion. Thank you for sharing your concerns.
WSU prof updates award-winning viticulture book
Just when it seemed a great thing couldn’t get better, Washington State University Chateau Ste. Michelle Distinguished Professor of Viticulture Markus Keller published the second edition of his textbook “The Science of Grapevines: Anatomy and Physiology.” That’s right, a textbook.
But not just any textbook. The first edition of “The Science of Grapevines” won the Jury Award for best viticulture book of 2010 from the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV; International Organization of Vine and Wine) and has been called a “‘go to’ book for questions and answers” by Stuart Weiss, chief scientist and founder of Viticision, a viticultural consulting group.
Keller says the new edition has expanded coverage on the reasons why grape yield and composition vary among vineyards and between vintages. In addition to covering the parts of a grapevine and their functions and interactions with their surroundings, “The Science of Grapevines” was updated with recent research findings, including how to increase sugar content in grapes by using drip irrigation and options for better maintaining vines during drought conditions. The book also now contains a glossary of important terms.
The 509-page textbook listing over 2,400 literature references is available for purchase as a hardback or e-book through Elsevier’s Academic Press of Burlington, Mass.
– Erika Holmes
Higher education advocate and architect of state’s wine prominence selected as 2015 Seattle-King County First Citizen
At a civic banquet later this year, Theodor “Ted” Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, will be saluted as the 77th Seattle-King County First Citizen. Although widely recognized for propelling the state’s wine industry to prominence on the world wine stage, he is also known to be a strong advocate for higher education and a champion for underserved students.
For the past 76 years recipients of the prestigious Seattle-King County First Citizen award have been toasted at a civic banquet. That custom continues this year, but guests will be saluting the honoree with premium wine that helped distinguish the award winner and the state’s industry. From academia to vineyards (and many other initiatives), the newly-announced 2015 First Citizen is credited with crafting world-class results.
“We look forward to raising our glasses for this savvy businessman and compassionate individual. His vision and generosity have benefited our region in countless ways,” said Tyler McKenzie, the 2015 president of SEATTLE KingCounty REALTORS®, which established the award in 1939.
Baseler joins an elite group of honorees who have been singled out for the annual award and celebration of community leadership, volunteerism and civic engagement that enhance the region’s quality of life. The banquet is a not-for-profit event presented by SEATTLE KingCounty REALTORS® and partners from the real estate brokerage community.
“Ted Baseler has served Washington State University and the entire state of Washington with distinction for many years,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “He has been recognized with the Alumni Achievement Award and the WSU Foundation Outstanding Service Award. He led the efforts to develop a world-class Enology and Viticulture program at WSU, working with legislators for funding. He has also been the driving force behind Chateau Ste. Michelle events that have raised more than $2 million for diversity scholarships. He does his alma mater proud every single day.”
Baseler joined Ste. Michelle in 1984 as director of marketing and was offered ever-increasing levels of responsibility before being named president and CEO in 2001.
In addition to being the architect of the company’s expansion, he is a respected leader in the U.S. wine industry, known for his dedication to building the State of Washington into one of the top wine-producing regions in the world. The industry, now comprising more than 850 wineries, is valued at more than $10 billion.
Among recent achievements, Baseler led fundraising efforts for the WSU Wine Science Center, a 40,000-square foot, high-tech research and education facility that will open in a few months. The Center, located on the WSU Tri-Cities campus, was developed as a public-private partnership. In a recent report about the $23 million project, wine journalist Andy Perdue wrote, “That it all happened in the midst of an intense economic downturn is miraculous. . . It took creativity and flexibility to get this done.”
Baseler has served as chairman of the Washington Wine Commission, chairman of the Napa-based Wine Market Council, and director of the Washington Wine Institute. Outside the wine industry, he has served on the Washington Business Roundtable and board for Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The Bellevue resident and 1976 graduate of Washington State University was appointed to the WSU Board of Regents by Governor Chris Gregoire in 2006, and was reappointed to full terms in 2009 (serving as chair from 2011-2012) and 2014. Since his appointments, he has had a particular focus on expanding access to higher education. In announcing the latest reappointment, Governor Jay Inslee said, “Ted serves Washington State University, his industry, his community and the state with distinction and foresight.”
This year’s recipient of the First Citizen Award is also being recognized for his philanthropy. Last year, he and his wife JoAnne were honored as Silver Laureate donors by the WSU Foundation. They have one daughter; his wife and daughter are also graduates of WSU.
In 2002, the Baselers and Chateau Ste. Michelle established a scholarship fund to support high-achieving, under-represented minority undergraduates at WSU and the University of Washington. The program expanded in 2009 to include students attending any college or university in the state. Since inception, more than 100 scholarships totaling more than $3 million have been awarded. Students in the program, which is administered by the College Success Foundation, have a graduation rate of 85-to-90 percent.
“Ted Baseler has been a long-time supporter of the College Success Foundation helping to provide opportunities for students in need,” said Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, president and CEO of College Success Foundation. “For over a decade he has hosted various events at the winery to raise scholarship funds for low-income, underserved students in Washington state, many of whom are children of agricultural workers who otherwise would not be able to realize the dream of pursuing and completing a college education. His Chateau Ste. Michelle Scholarship is an inspirational model of private philanthropy at work helping young people achieve a college education. Over 100 young men, women and their families have benefitted from the generosity of the Baselers and Chateau Ste. Michelle.”
Since taking the helm of Ste. Michelle, Baseler has focused on building a high quality portfolio. One notable initiative is his “String of Pearls” business strategy, where each winery ‘pearl’ is granted authority to make qualitative decisions in the vineyard and winery. That approach has garnered critical acclaim, including Wine Spectator magazine’s coveted No. 1 Wine in the World title for 2009.
Ste. Michelle is currently the third largest premium wine company in the U.S. Its portfolio includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, 14 Hands, Northstar, Spring Valley, and Col Solare in Washington state, plus wineries in California and Oregon, and development of an import portfolio that includes prestige wineries from five countries.
Baseler holds a bachelor’s degree from The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University and a Master of Science degree in advertising from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was inducted into the WSU Murrow College Hall of Achievement in 2007. He led the efforts to develop a world class Enology and Viticulture program at WSU, working with the State Legislature for funding.
Baseler has earned several other awards. Earlier this year Southern Wine & Spirits of America presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award for his “visionary guidance, creative innovation and strong leadership skills…(which) have been key drivers in solidifying Washington state’s position as the second largest wine region in the U.S.”
Prior to working at the winery, he had a successful career as a creative marketer of consumer packaged goods at ad agencies J. Walter Thompson, Chiat Day and Cole & Weber. He was named one of the top marketing professionals in the country by Advertising Age and “Man of the Year” by the Wine Enthusiast. In 2013, he was named by his peers to Vineyard Winery Management’s list of “20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry.
Learn more about the First Citizen Award and Banquet.
- Val Towler, Director of Membership & Communications, (425) 974-1015
- Roni Strupat, Event Chair, (206) 999-8108
Congrats, Kaelin! You’ve won ‘The Crimson Spoon’ on Facebook
Kaelin Campbell of Pullman is the lucky Facebook “liker” who wins a copy of “The Crimson Spoon: Plating Regional Cuisine on the Palouse”! This 200-page, photo-packed, hardback cookbook features Washington State University Executive Chef Jamie Callison’s gourmet recipes.
Campbell is an undergraduate student in the WSU Viticulture and Enology Program and president of the Viticulture and Enology Club at the Pullman campus.
Everyone who liked our Facebook post about the cookbook between February 18 and March 17, 2015, was entered to win a copy.
Stay in touch with wine science by following the WSU Viticulture & Enology Program on Facebook for program and wine industry updates.
AgWeatherNet demo attracts learners of all ages
AgWeatherNet Director Gerrit Hoogenboom recently visited the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus to share information about the university’s 160 automated weather stations across the state.
Not only was there a crowd of WSU viticulture and enology students, but 13-year-old Angelo Bravo came to learn more about being a meteorologist — a career he’s been interested in since age 3! His mother Sylvia said, “When other kids were watching cartoons, he was watching the weather channel.”
Thanks for visiting, Dr. Hoogenboom, and we look forward to your weather predictions, Angelo.
The AgWeatherNet team is located at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. However, AgWeatherNet is programmatically linked to the research, extension and instruction efforts conducted by the WSU College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. The data gathered and presented by the AgWeatherNet has many applications that serve not only Washington agriculture, but research efforts as well.
Celebrate Taste Washington Wine Month!
March is Taste Washington Wine Month, an annual celebration of Washington State’s award-winning industry. Visit the Washington State Wine website for promotions happening at participating restaurants, wine shops, winery tasting rooms, and hotels.
And don’t forget, the culmination of Taste Washington Wine Month is Taste Washington – happening over four days, March 26th – 29th, 2015. We hope to see you there!
Voice of the Vine
Each issue of Voice of the Vine brings you stories about viticulture and enology and WSU researchers, students, and alumni working in Washington’s world-class wine industry. Subscribe here.
If you are interested in WSU research and education about organic agriculture and sustainable food systems, check out Green Times. Subscribe here.
On Solid Ground
On Solid Ground features news and information about ways WSU researchers, students, and alumni support Washington agriculture and natural resources. Subscribe here.