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Collina del Sogno is one of the first facilities to receive a certification of sustainability under the LIVE Winery pilot program. © 2010 Adam Bacher
Keynote Comparison of Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Systems: Commonalities and Differences in Plant Microbiomes
Speaker: Dr. Glenn McGourty, UC Davis
Winegrowers have embraced the concept of terroir—where in part, vineyard place, soils and farming practices among other things leave a distinct imprint on the flavor and quality of wine. With new advances in research, we are better able to understand how microbiomes—the microbes associated with plants—affect plant growth and resilience. These microbes live on and in plants, and actually represent genetic resources that plants can utilize. There are three microbiomes associated with plants. The phyllosphere is the microbial community associated with foliage. The fructosphere is the microbial community associated with fruit. The rhizosphere is the microbial community associated with roots. Sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming systems approach managing these microbial communities in different ways. New research is beginning to associate wine flavors with the microbes present in the different microbiomes, and may be more important than soil parent material in affecting wine flavor. Soil management is a “toolbox” useful for growers to exert the most control of vine growth and balance. In an era of climate change and rising greenhouse gas levels, improving soil health by building organic matter allows individuals to build more resilience into their vineyards while making a personal contribution to sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gases. Potential resilience includes storing more water in the soil, improving aeration and root exploration, more storage and easier exchange of nutrients and fruit that ferments virtually on its own when crushed without problems. This talk will compare and contrast how different farming systems improve soil health and wine quality while addressing serious environmental issues at the same time (reducing carbon footprint, storing soil moisture, improving water quality and creating biodiversity).
Topic 1: Mechanization in the Vineyard
Speakers: Joey Myers, Vinetenders and Chris Deckelmann, Meridian Estate Vineyard
Topic 2: Vineyard Nutrition
Speaker: Dr. Paul Schreiner, USDA-ARS
Paul Schreiner will present recent findings and discuss general information about managing grapevine nutrition. Dr. Schreiner will discuss when nutrients are taken up soil, show how deficiency symptoms appear in grapevines, and provide tissue nutrient guidelines for wine grapes. Dr. Schreiner will also present information about managing N, P, and K to optimize vine growth and/or fruit composition, and discuss the role and management of mycorrhizal fungi in grapevines.
Topic 3: Clean Plant Process
Speakers: Scott Harper, Clean Plant Center Northwest and Geoff Hall, Ste Michelle Wine Estates
The clean plant process is critical to the health and economic viability of our supported industries, because disease control relies on three key factors: elimination of infected material in grower and nursery blocks; ongoing disease management practices (scouting, testing, vector control, and removing infected plants); and the availability of clean planting material to replace existing blocks or to establish new ones. Without all three factors working on concert, you cannot prevent or control the spread of disease. With the emergence of diseases such as grapevine leaf roll, red blotch, and Pierce’s disease, the risks of using non-certified, and thus potentially infected, planting material are too great, and it is only with industry-wide participation in the clean plant process, and certification schemes, that we have chance of controlling these diseases.
The impact of the various grapevine viruses on fruit quality and yield can be devastating to the economics of a vineyard. As industry awareness and understanding of these viruses increase, wineries are distinguishing between clean and infected fruit when determining grape quality and thus ultimately affecting payment terms. These potential consequences contribute to the importance of obtaining certified plant material prior to installing your vineyard. With average lifespans of 30+ years, it is imperative to ensure you will not be removing the vine after only a few years due to underperforming yields or fruit quality. Therefore, supporting certification programs and understanding where your vines come from are critical to the overall success and longevity of your vineyard. Always discuss with your nursery the source material of your vine order, request the latest test results, even visit the source block in the fall to ensure there are not obviously symptomatic vines that could end up in your vineyard. Tight cooperation between growers, nurseries, and certification programs is absolutely critical to the overall sustainability of a wine industry.
About the Clean Plant Center Northwest
The Clean Plant Center Northwest (CPCNW), based at Washington State University, Prosser, acquires, develops, and distributes clean grapevine, fruit tree, and hop selections to nurseries and growers throughout the Pacific Northwest, the US, and around the world. Selections are introduced into our program, tested for damaging and economically important virus and virus-like pathogens, then sent through the virus elimination process, tested and re-tested to ensure that all pathogens were successfully eliminated, and then propagated and retained in our collection for distribution. These clean plants are also the basis of state certification schemes, as only material from a registered clean plant center may be used to produce new mother blocks.