Woodhall III Vineyard
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 Oregon Wine Research Institute "vine to wine" approach to research. It is a functional, OLCC-licensed winery, located on the northwest side of OSU's campus in Corvallis. Despite the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the research winery processed over four tons of Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot gris in support of fifteen OWRI research projects, two industry-contract projects, and undergraduate enology courses during 2020 and 2021. In addition, the winery also produced Pinot noir and Pinot noir rose for the production of the OSU Beaver Classic wine-soaked cheddar varieties.
In 2021, the winery produced large batches of smoked and unsmoked wines which will be used for sensory threshold testing. The sensory thresholds of smoke-related compounds are poorly understood and ill-defined. Sensory research in this area will increase understanding of smoke compounds in red wines. Also in 2021, wines were made in the winery from smoke-exposed grapes in which the smoke was created using 13C-labeled barley as a fuel source. Through HPLC, GCMS, and NMR analyses, researchers will gain a more comprehensive understanding and identification of the compounds involved in smoke taint. Another smoke exposure study currently underway in the winery is investigating the use of macro-oxidation during various stages of alcoholic fermentation of smoked grapes as a means to lower the concentrations of smoke-related compounds. Macro-oxidation of ferments took place during either the first three or last three days of fermentation. These wines will be assessed via GCMS and LC-MS/MS for the presence of smoke-related compounds.
The winery 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.