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Council lands $2M for research Seven projects aimed

at enhancing quality, sustainability of wine and grape industries.

By Judie Steeves T

he B.C. Wine Grape Council has received $2 million from the federal Growing Forward program called Developing Innovative Agri-Products, for seven research projects, two wine-related and five viticulture.

Chairman Hans Buchler said the council will be collaborating with scientists at both the federal Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland, and UBC-Okanagan on the projects, which must be wrapped up by 2013, according to terms of the funding.

The council is financed by levies on grape production for research and development to benefit the grape and wine industries.

It also coordinates an annual Viticulture and Enology Conference, where the results of such research is disseminated to members and discussed by researchers, technical people, growers and those in the wine industry.

Grape acreage in B.C. has increased from 1,200 in 1989 to nearly 10,000 today, and the number of wineries is up from half a dozen or so to more than 160, so there have been multiple challenges in an era of such rapid growth.

Buchler pointed out that because of the high cost of land and production costs higher than in most other wine- producing regions of the world, it is important that the industry in B.C. focus on high-quality wines and on the low environmental footprint of the product, to attract local consumers and access niche markets. With that in mind, the council sought funding for projects that would help to optimize the sensory qualities of the product, while pursuing the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the entire production cycle, Buchler explained.


The first project involves updating the Geographic

Information System (GIS) research data gathered by PARC research scientist Pat Bowen and her team to help manage vineyards to best express the terroir of the site.

The second involves finding integrated pest management (IPM) techniques to help control climbing cutworms and

leafhoppers in grapes in research led by PARC researcher Tom Lowery.


Dan O’Gorman of PARC will conduct research into trunk diseases of grapevines.

Bowen will also investigate how various irrigation management

techniques affect fruit quality on different soils. PARC researcher Gerry Neilsen will look into plant nutrient issues such as the timing and type of nitrogen applications and their impact.

Wine chemist Cedric Saucier of UBC-O will investigate the physical and sensory evaluation of tannins in red wines and grapes using

spectrophotometric measurements for tannins.

PARC researcher Kevin Usher will look into how vegetative aromas in wines are impacted by vineyard management

practices, particularly the application of nitrogen.

Work on some of the projects has already begun, and it will begin this year on other projects. Buchler is project leader.

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British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2010

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