Viticulture and Enology

Taking on climate change in vineyards

Warren Winiarski knows how to make beautiful wine and wants to help his beloved Napa Valley continue to do so for years to come. The legendary founder and former winemaker of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars fame is funding an ambitious research project to update and expand the globally recognized Winkler Index and give the industry new tools to cope with climate change.

Progress in climate study of wine grapes despite challenges of 2020

Beth Forrestel, an assistant professor and plant biologist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, leads the project to modernize the Winkler Index that growers used for decades to match suitable wine grape varieties with different regions of the state. Even though smoke, wildfires and pandemic-induced restrictions presented some formidable obstacles to field research in 2020, the initial year of the study, Forrestel reports progress by those involved with the work.

UC Davis Establishes Research, Training in Cultivated Meat

Is cultivated meat — essentially, animal protein grown under lab conditions — a nourishing prospect to help feed the world, or is it more sizzle than steak? A consortium of researchers at the University of California, Davis, aims to explore the long-term sustainability of cultivated meat, supported by a new grant of up to $3.55 million from the National Science Foundation Growing Convergence program, in addition to previous support from the Good Food Institute and New Harvest.

UC Davis Releases 5 New Wine Grape Varieties

Plants Are Resistant to Deadly Pierce’s Disease

For the first time since the 1980s, University of California, Davis, researchers have released new varieties of wine grapes. The five new varieties, three red and two white, are highly resistant to Pierce’s disease, which costs California grape growers more than $100 million a year. The new, traditionally bred varieties also produce high-quality fruit and wine.

Grapevine Red Blotch Disease Threatens U.S. Grape Industry

$3 Million Grant Awarded to Study Causes, Impact of Grapevine Virus

University of California, Davis, scientists will lead a collaborative effort to study grapevine red blotch disease, which threatens the $162 billion U.S. grape industry. The virus causes red veins and blotches on grape leaves. The fruit on diseased plants is smaller, ripens more slowly, and its sugars and colors are muted.

Raising a glass to grapes' surprising genetic diversity

Here's a discovery well worth toasting: A research team led by Professor Brandon Gaut with the University of California, Irvine and Professor Dario Cantu with the University of California, Davis has deciphered the genome of the Chardonnay grape. By doing so, they have uncovered something fascinating: grapes inherit different numbers of genes from their mothers and fathers. Their paper has just been published in Nature Plants.

High-Wire Act

UC Davis and the wine industry cultivate a fruitful relationship

South of Merced, under the hot summer sun of the San Joaquin Valley, Miguel Guerrero of The Wine Group is trying a new high-wire act. In collaboration with UC Davis Cooperative Extension, Roduner Ranch vineyard manager Guerrero is experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon vines and other varieties elevated by a single wire at 66 inches—plantings that are 2-to-3 feet higher than the traditional wine grape canopy.

UC Davis Receives $1 Million From Keck Foundation Following Virus Discovery

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Alberta, Canada, have made preliminary discoveries about how Zika and hepatitis C viruses reproduce at the cellular level, providing new insight into a family of viruses that also includes West Nile and dengue. Now their cutting-edge research will be supported by a $1 million grant from the prestigious W.M. Keck Foundation. The foundation primarily focuses on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering, and undergraduate education.

New insight into why Pierce’s disease is so deadly to grapevines

Research could help diagnose disease early and increase plant health

Scientists are gaining a better understanding of Pierce’s disease and how it affects grapevines. The disease, which annually costs California more than $100 million, comes from a bacterium called Xylella fastidiosa. While the bacterium has been present in the state for more than 100 years, Pierce’s disease became a more serious threat to agriculture with the arrival of the glassy-winged sharpshooter insect, which can carry the bacterium from plant to plant.