- About Us
Oregon State University has been conducting vineyard research projects at Woodhall III Vineyard (WHV) for over 30 years. Dr. Frank Baynes and his wife, Betty purchased the property and planted the first vines in 1976. In 1986, they donated the property to Oregon State for use as a research vineyard. Woodhall is a 26-acre property located in the northern part of the recently proposed Lower Long Tom American Viticultural Area (AVA), in the coastal range, west of Alpine, Oregon. The property is primarily on a south-facing slope, 450 to 700 feet in elevation, with approximately 9 acres suitable for wine grape production. With a warm microclimate, Woodhall makes an excellent vineyard site.
In 2015, renovations began to enhance the function of the facility. Each renovation since then improves the land and continues to make it a suitable research site. Many of these changes have been overseen by vineyard manager Scott Robbins, whose tireless dedication to this vineyard has been instrumental in its success. Another significant development was the hire of a full-time assistant vineyard manager, Josh Price, who has been a vital part of all the changes going on at Woodhall. A weather station in the AgriMet Cooperative Agricultural Weather Network was installed in late October 2020. The weather station will provide critical weather information and a climatic archive of weather conditions for the south Willamette Valley location. The weather station installation and annual maintenance are funded by the Oregon Wine Research Institute at OSU.
Woodhall continues to perform advanced "vine to wine" research that includes clone and rootstock trials, berry physiology and ripening, herbicide and nematodes, vine yields and canopy management, among others. In 2015 a new 2-acre Pinot noir research block was planted to test trellis systems and vine spacing, and the research faculty are planning to install 1600 Chardonnay vines in the late fall 2020 to address questions asked by industry about this resurgent grape variety. As the viticulture program expands at OSU, Woodhall has become an important teaching tool to educate and inform OSU students and the Oregon wine industry through classes, training, and research.
The Oregon State University Research Winery is a key component of the OWRI "vine to wine" approach to research. It is a functional, OLCC-licensed winery, located on the northwest side of OSU's campus in Corvallis. During the 2019 harvest the winery processed over 3.5 tons of Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot gris grapes supporting fourteen viticulture and enology research projects involving scientists from the departments of Food Science, Horticulture, Environmental & Molecular Toxicology, and the USDA-ARS. Aside from grapes, the winery also processed nearly 350 pounds of apples for preliminary cider research.
The 2019 harvest marked the final year of winemaking for a multi-departmental, multi-institutional, collaborative project investigating the impact of nitrogen additions in the vineyard versus in the winery on Pinot noir and Chardonnay wine. Sensory studies using trained expert panelists revealed no consistent differences between Pinot noir wines created from grapes supplemented with nitrogen in the vineyard versus nitrogen supplementation of the must in the winery. However, differences were found in Chardonnay. Most notably that Chardonnay wines supplemented with nitrogen in the vineyard had more tropical aromatic notes than those supplemented with nitrogen in the winery. An additional year of sensory testing is planned to complete the project. Another collaborative research project at the OSU Research Winery focused on Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV) and its effects spanning from the vineyard to the final wine. These studies included investigating the impact of GRBV and irrigation techniques on wine quality, the effect of abscisic acid on GRBV-infected vines and wine quality, and the impact of early leaf removal on GRBV-infected vines and final wine quality. The first year of sensory analysis of wines from these studies occurred in early 2020, and a second year is planned for 2021.
The winery also plays a key role in supporting viticulture and enology research and education, serving as a critical component in the training of future Oregon winemakers through classes, training, and research.