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Eastern wine industry to get boost from $1.3-million grant

From Jan. 17, 2011 Cornell Chronicle article, Wine and vine experts receive $1.3 million for research to boost eastern wine industry by Amanda Garris.

Justine Vanden Heuvel“Unpredictable rainfall, overly fertile soils, new varieties and a young industry — these are but some of the challenges in producing quality wine in the eastern United States. Cornell has been awarded $1.3 million to address these problems in East Coast vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms as part of $3.8 million grant from the federal Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI). …

“‘In the northeastern United States, soils that are high in organic matter and excessive rainfall can cause problematic vine vigor, resulting in high production costs and reduced fruit quality,’ says Justine Vanden Heuvel (above), assistant professor of horticulture. ‘We will be testing the effectiveness of cover crops to slow the growth of shoots, resulting in higher quality fruit.’

“Vanden Heuvel will also work with horticulture professors Ian Merwin and Alan Lakso to dissect how light and temperature affect grape flavors and aromas — from bitter to fruity — in Riesling and cabernet franc. Plant pathology professor Wayne Wilcox will look at the corresponding effects on disease incidence, so that the project will produce comprehensive cultural recommendations appropriate to a grower’s climate and target wine style.

“In addition, Lakso and colleagues from other universities will use modeling to develop decision-making tools for vineyard managers, from identifying good matches between a potential vineyard site and grape variety to how much crop they can ripen in a particular vineyard.”

Anna Katharine Mansfield, assistant professor of enology and grant co-investigator, will develop recommendations that will improve wine quality through appropriate fruit processing. Brad Rickard, assistant professor of applied economics and marketing, will investigate advertising approaches to see how they influence consumers’ interest in — and willingness to pay for — wines made in the eastern United States. Several Finger Lakes wineries will be collaborating in the project.

Read the whole article.

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