MU Announces Expansion of State Wine and Grape Research Program

Missouri’s wine and grape industry soon will be served by a new research and educational institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia

January 8th, 2007

COLUMBIA, MO. – Missouri’s wine and grape industry soon will be served by a new research and educational institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology will be located on the MU campus, said Jinglu Tan, director of the MU Division of Food Systems and Bioengineering.

“Wine and grape production in Missouri-and across the center of the country-has been growing fast for many years,” Tan said. “This institute will be a leader in research for grape production in this region of the U.S.”

The institute will reside within the food science division Tan leads, which is a part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The institute’s faculty will have joint appointments in FSB as well as in the college’s Division of Plant Sciences.

Tan said the institute will eventually have seven institute-funded faculty and staff members, with one team focused on viticulture (grape production), a similar group focused on enology (wine production), plus an administrative assistant. Each team will include a professorial-level research scientist, an extension associate and a research specialist.

The institute will likely include other MU research and extension faculty. “Initially, the institute will focus on research and extension efforts for grape and wine producers in Missouri and surrounding areas. It will be fully integrated into the full MU teaching, research and extension programs, and will involve students at the graduate and even the undergraduate level,” Tan said.

Mid-continent wine producers currently must recruit around the world for high quality workers for their vineyards and wineries.

“Our long-term vision is this institute will help prepare MU students to step into that work force. They will be trained under Midwest conditions as well,” Tan said.

Institute faculty and staff will focus on all areas of grape and wine production: cultural practices for Missouri soils and climate; development of disease-resistant and high-yielding grape varieties; insect and other pest controls; rootstock development; fermentation and wine production; as well as areas of storage, handling and service.

“The college has many departments that also will play a role in the grape and wine industry: horticulture, plant breeding, genetics and plant protection; the sensory, food chemistry and other capabilities of our food science program; and the service and beverage management areas of our hotel and restaurant management program,” Tan said.

Tan said he expects faculty from across CAFNR and the MU campus to become involved in collaborative work at the institute.

Basic support for the institute, approximately $800,000 for fiscal year 2007, will come from the Missouri Grape and Wine Board. That board directs funds from the state-wide 12-cent tax on wine sales for research, education and marketing.

MU has a long connection with the Missouri Grape and Wine Board involving projects within the food science and hotel and restaurant management programs.

“This new institute is critical to enhancing the businesses of our wine and grape producers,” said Jim Anderson, executive director of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board. “Long-term, it will develop the varieties and practices specific to Missouri needs. We also will see an immediate impact. Having faculty out in the state, learning about the issues vineyard owners are dealing with, and helping solve some of those current issues, will be a great benefit to industry.”

Currently, most Missouri grape production research is conducted on cooperating, privately-owned vineyards across the state. That work will continue under the direction of the institute.

CAFNR faculty also are evaluating which of the college’s research farms and centers will be appropriate for specific, long-term research trials, according to Marc Linit, associate dean for research and extension, whose responsibilities include management of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station network.

“I am excited about the establishment of the state’s grape and wine program on the MU campus, Linit said. “The opportunity for the institute’s scientists to collaborate with the diversity of scientific and economic expertise in CAFNR and elsewhere on campus will benefit the wine industry in Missouri and elsewhere in the Midwest.”

Source: University of Missouri Extension

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