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Refining Wine(2)

Time:2019-01-09 11:41wine - Red wine life health Click:

Wine Refining

Numerous reasons exist for growers and winemakers to participate in OSU and USDA-ARS research projects. Taking part can help shape the research agenda, solve real-life problems, put scientific rigor and real data into the study, and gain relationships that can advise and answer questions. Chien calls field research a way to grow “citizen scientists,” a term coined by Ted Casteel of Bethel Heights Vineyard. He continues, “Participation in research gives growers a chance to learn the scientific methods, inferences and deductions; the difference between correlation and causality. It helps them to be more observant and analytical.”

Elizabeth Clark, winemaker at Airlie Winery, has participated in Skinkis’ crop load trials, and has come to value her relationships with OSU faculty. “I’m very comfortable calling them now. They’re a sounding board,” Clark said. “There’s a level of trust there.”

Typically, wine marketing and tourism research has been funded by ODA and Travel Oregon. Yet, in 2017, OWRI added an applied economics arm, signaling the importance this aspect of research has on the wine industry. “We’re looking at wine clubs and how to improve the efficacy of [them], tasting room dynamics from a consumer behavior standpoint and how to best use the tasting room point of sale,” Chien commented.

Travel Oregon funded seven wine-related projects in 2017 and 2018 through wine country license plate fees, two of which involved research to develop wine tourism demographics. ODA, with funding from the USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant program, has historically focused on wine marketing and promotion, but according to ODA staffer Gabrielle Redhead, the department is more inclined now to fund research and would like to explore studies related to the Specialty Crop Program priorities.

Funded by “a tax on the sale or use of all agricultural products used in a winery for making wine, as well as all vinifera or hybrid grapes or grape products exported out of Oregon,” OWB also conducts wine marketing and tourism research in its work to advance the industry. In 2017 and 2018, OWB allocated $350,000 to research supporting seven OSU and USDA-ARS projects. In 2018, OWB conducted a series of grower conversations around the state to help shape their future research priorities.

No matter the domain — basic sciences, applied agriculture or consumer behavior and market economics — research takes dedicated scientists, time, focus and money. OSU viticulturist Dr. Alex Levin calls research a stair-step approach to what is now a robust wine industry.

Levin notes, “There’s a feeling sometimes: ‘What has research done for me lately?’ People tend to remember the big jumps. But research tends to be very incremental, and the advances come year after year, sometimes leading to things that you do or things that you shouldn’t do. Both are important.”


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