2014 PA Wine Marketing & Research Board Symposium Summary

By: Denise M. Gardner, Extension Enologist



Each year, the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board (PA WMRB) financially supports educational and research initiatives in the fields of enology, viticulture, and wine marketing. This year’s Symposium featured several wine and grape-related research projects that were funded by the PA WMRB and pertinent to the Pennsylvania wine industry:

  • Continued NE-1020 variety trial, which features about 40 wine grape varieties grown in two vineyard plots: North East, PA and Biglerville, PA. This variety trial showcases the climatic and terroir differences associated with these two regions within Pennsylvania. Vines and wines are evaluated through chemical analyses and sensory evaluation of several wine varieties. This was the first year that highlighted data from three consecutive years, which allowed researchers to show trends associated with growing chemistries, harvest, and wine chemistries. Vidal Blanc, Albarino, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that were processed in the 2013 vintage were tasted at the 2014 Symposium. Additionally undergraduate and graduate student involvement in the NE-1020 project was highlighted. You can see current updates on the NE-1020 project by checking out Penn State Extension Enology’s Facebook Page.  In addition to the support from the PA WMRB, this material is based upon funding provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement No. 2010-51181-21599.
  • Evaluation of aroma scalping in wine production was presented by Jared Smith, graduate student in Dr. Ryan Elias’s lab. Jared is currently investigating the potential of absorption of specific wine aromas into polymer-based wine equipment. While Jared’s initial research shows that aroma scalping may occur on certain polymers, he is now evaluating scalping potential in commercial wines. Additionally, Jared is hoping to evaluate potential cleaning mechanisms associated with releasing aromas that have absorbed onto winery equipment.
  • An update on bunch rot management was given by Bryan Hed, who is located at the North East Extension office. Bryan’s research has looked at the effects of leaf removal, Vapor Guard® (an anti-transpirant) application, and the use of oils and their associated effects on bunch rot related diseases. Bryan currently recommends leaf pulling as the most effective way to manage rot development on grape clusters. Future research will evaluate the effects of Mancozeb and Botector®.
  • Laura Homich, an undergraduate at Penn State, presented her research on co-inoculation in Chambourcin wine production as a potential acid management tool for high-acid red varieties. This research project was conducted at the Food Science Department on a pilot plant scale and also in conjunction with two commercial wineries in Pennsylvania. Chemical results showed little differences between treatments (co-inoculation of primary and malolactic fermentations, vs. sequential primary fermentation followed by malolactic fermentation). Attendees tasted both the research wines and commercial wines that were produced in the 2013 vintage. Attendees found little, if any, sensory variation in wines that were produced by either method.
Rob Crassweller

Dr. Rob Crassweller

Laura Homich

Undergraduate, Laura Homich

Penn State's Dr. Rob Crassweller, Laura Homich, & Bryan Hed

Penn State’s Bryan Hed

Additionally, several guest speakers were invited to the 2014 Symposium and gave fascinating talks related to winemaking:

  • Penn State’s Sensory Evaluation Center Laboratory Technician, Rachel Primrose, presented her research that is currently evaluating the maximum perception thresholds associated with sweetness in wine. Rachel is looking at the impacts of sugar presence in both low-acid and high-acid wines, and evaluating the influence of both sugar and artificial sugar additions.
  • Dr. Molly Kelly from Virginia tech discussed the effects of foliar nitrogen and sulfur sprays and its impact on the aroma composition of Petit Manseng wine. Her research showed that a combined foliar spray of nitrogen and sulfur related to an increase in aroma compound concentrations, in addition to sensory changes in the finished wines. Molly alluded to the fact that these spray techniques could be applied in the vineyard to enhance the aroma composition in Petit Manseng wines or in other winegrape varieties similar to Petit Manseng (i.e. Viognier, Albarino, etc.).
  • Also from Virginia Tech University, Dr. Amanda Stewart presented her research and insights on Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen (YAN). Amanda discussed the importance of managing and measuring YAN: reduce the risk of stuck or sluggish fermentations, potentially enhance the aroma/flavor impacts in each wine variety produced in the variety, and to help wineries develop unique nutrient strategies specific for each variety or wine style being produced. Current YAN recommendations are based off of west coast regions and varieties, while recent research indicates a need for a better understanding of YAN in native, hybrid and east coast Vitis vinifera varieties.
Rachel Primrose

Rachel Primrose from the Dept. of Food Science Sensory Evaluation Center

Molly Kelly

Dr. Molly Kelly from Virginia Tech University

Amanda Stewart

Dr. Amanda Stewart from Virginia Tech University

One of the most exciting features of the 2014 Symposium was the introduction of Dr. Michela Centinari, the newly hired research viticulturist at Penn State University. Michela gave a broad overview of her post doctorate research on the effects of root pruning on vegetative growth of vines and final wine quality. Additionally, Michela introduced several of her research objectives during her tenure at Penn State University. Michela is hoping to look at late spring frost damage, an evaluation of KDL, and also a joint project looking at rotundone concentrations in Noiret and Grüner Veltliner.

Michela Centinari

Professor of viticulture at Penn State University, Dr. Michela Centinari

In 2015, the Pennsylvania Winery Association (PWA) and PA WMRB are hoping to host a joint conference for Pennsylvania wine industry members. Please stay tuned for further updates regarding this joint meeting in 2015!


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