For the 2023-24 fiscal year, the OWB is funding $279,060 in technical research grants. Below are the six funded projects that were recommended for funding by the Research Committee and approved by the Oregon Wine Board of Directors. Updates on these projects will be reported throughout the year.
Determining the Spoilage potential of Brettanomyces strains Isolated from Oregon Vineyards and Cellars
Christopher Curtin, Assistant Professor, Oregon State University.
Previous research in other wine-producing regions of the world has identified at least four different genetic groups of Brettanomyces that cause wine spoilage, with one sulfite-tolerant group of particular concern when found at high frequency. This research will utilize whole-genome sequencing to address the extent to which Oregon vineyards and wineries harbor similar Brettanomyces strains, and through micro-fermentation will evaluate the prevalence of sulfite-tolerance and spoilage potential. Results generated through this work will inform a workshop focused on methods of Brettanomyces detection and control.
Project reference: 2023-2806 Spoilage potential of Oregon Brettanomyces
Grapevine Trunk Diseases (GTD) Management for conventional and organic production
Achala N. KC, Associate Professor, Tree fruits and wine grapes pathology, Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center, Oregon State University – Co-PI: Patty Skinkis, Professor – Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University
Project objectives: Compare the efficacy of fungicides and sealants in protecting pruning wounds and test the effect of pruning time and subsequent wound protection length of both conventional and organic registered fungicides
In the first year, treatments to manage one of the Botryosphaeria pathogen, Dothiorella iberica was applied to pruning wounds in two vineyards in a randomized complete block design with four replications. The conventional fungicides Topsin M WSB and Rally 40WSP were chosen along with the organic fungicide Bio-Tam 2.0. and VitiSeal. Inoculum of D. iberica spores were sprayed on wounds immediately after treatment as well as on non-treated control vines. Treated vines were monitored monthly for the presence of foliar symptoms. At harvest, data on yield and cluster count were recorded.
In the first year of the study, treated vines did not exhibit any GTD-related foliar symptoms . The treatments did not significantly affect cluster count, cluster weight, and yield per vine in any location. This result was expected since it would be too early to see the GTD effect on yield-related variables. From the first year of this study, we found a significant reduction in disease incidence in all treatments except from one. However, these results need further confirmation.
Project reference: 2023-2676 GTD management
Field Evaluation of Drought Tolerant Rootstocks Using Stable Isotopes
Alec Levin, Viticulturist and Assistant Professor, Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center and Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University.
Grapevines are grown in some of the most diverse eco-regions of the world including areas that are drought prone. Traditionally introduced to protect wine grapes against soil-borne pathogens, numerous attempts have since been made to characterize rootstocks for drought tolerance. However, other environmental factors have been observed to play confounding roles. Therefore, in this research, we aim to characterize the drought tolerance of 10 commonly used grape rootstocks grown in a replicated field trial through a combination of physiological, agronomic, and fruit quality responses. This research will be foundational for growers when choosing rootstocks best suited for drought-prone areas.
Project Reference: 2023-2791 Rootstocks, drought, and isotopes
Impact of Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) Timing and the use of non-Saccharomyces yeast during Cold Soaking on Pinot noir Wine Color and Sensory Properties.
James Osborne, Professor, Enology Extension Specialist, Oregon State University.
The malolactic fermentation (MLF) is a key process in the production of red wines and some white wines. While it is commonly conducted after the completion of the alcoholic fermentation (sequential), it can also be induced at the same time where Oenococcus oeni is inoculated shortly after the beginning of alcoholic fermentation (concurrent). This project seeks to increase understanding of the impact of MLF timing on Pinot noir as well as interactions with no-Saccharomyces yeast that may influence color and mouthfeel properties. Findings from this study will allow strategies to be developed for the use of MLF and non-Saccharomyces yeasts to improve Pinot noir wine sensory characteristics.
Project reference: 2023-2704 – MLF Timing and Color
Developing an RNAi Topical Application to Combat Grapevine Red Blotch Disease (GRBD)
Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV) is a harmful pathogen for the wine industry, and there is no current effective management strategy to limit its spread. We aim to develop a new bio-pesticide method that releases GRBV-based small RNA stretches in vineyards to boost a significant immune defense system in plants, RNA interference. It could be compared to RNAi therapy in humans. We use an organic carbon-based nanomaterial named Carbon Dots to ensure the systemic effect and efficient uptake of the RNA stretches by grapevine plants. Using this approach, we aim to limit the GRBV spread and its negative impact on fruit composition. This would benefit the Oregon wine industry by providing a cost-effective and specific solution to Red Blotch disease.
Project Reference: 2023-2784 RNAi against Red Blotch Virus
Baseline Data for Smoke Exposure and Taint of Nine Grape Varieties and Corresponding Wines
Elizabeth Tomasino, Cole Cerrato
The main objective of this project is to provide baseline measurements of multiple varieties of grapes and wines grown and made in Oregon for comparison when smoke events happen. Essentially this is to create a database of naturally occurring smoke-related compounds from samples made from non-smoke exposed grape and wine. Compounds commonly found in smoke being analyzed include the free phenols; guaiacol, 4-methyl guaiacol, o/m/p-cresols, syringols, and 4-methyl syringols. The 5 main bound phenol glycosides include guaiacol rutinoside, methylguaiacol rutinoside, syringol gentiobioside, methyl syringol gentiobioside, cresol rutinoside and phenol rutinoside. Samples are also being stored for when thiophenol analysis is available.
Project Reference: 2023-2792 (ex. 2719) Smoke baseline compounds in Oregon Wines