RICHLAND, Wash. — Several of the international wine community’s leading researchers will visit the Columbia Valley on Friday, March 17 to take part in the Washington State University wine symposium titled Climate Extremes: Is the Pacific Northwest Wine Industry Ready?
Southern Oregon University’s Gregory Jones, viewed by many as the wine world’s top expert in climate research, will join University of California-Davis professor Roger Boulton and Geisenheim University professor Hans Schultz at the WSU Tri-Cities campus in Richland.
The St. Patrick’s Day climate summit will run 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and be staged at the East Auditorium, a short walk from the state-of-the-art Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Tri-Cities Wine Science Center.
Topics will include climate trends, impacts of extreme weather, solutions for mitigating damage and available resources. Jones and Schultz shared the stage during the 2016 Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle to present The State of Riesling: Climatic Trends, Current Growing Conditions and Future Projections.
Researchers from California, Germany on panel
In the Pacific Northwest, a string of five vintages with warmer spring and summer temperatures have led to earlier harvests. The region also has experienced early fall frosts before vines are fully dormant followed by generally mild winters — aside from this year — and sharp declines in temperature through early spring.
Extremes can damage vines and factor into fruit and winemaking decisions. Organizers hope the March symposium will help growers and winemakers to better manage vineyards.
The lineup of speakers includes:
- Boulton, professor, chemical engineer and Stephen Sinclair Scott Endowed Chair in Enology at UC-Davis. He studies chemical and biochemical engineering aspects of winemaking and distilled spirits production.
- Steve Ghan, climate scientist for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory operated by Battelle. His research involves complex topography on microclimate, which simulates the impact of climate change on mountain snowpack around the world.
- Jones, who also serves as SOU’s director of the division of business, communication and the environment, is a professor and research climatologist in environmental science and policy. His research specializes in the climatology of viticulture, with a focus on how climate variation influences vine growth, wine production and the quality of wine produced. His father is Earl Jones, founding winemaker of Abacela in Roseburg, Ore.
- Markus Keller, WSU professor of viticulture. His research involves developmental and environmental factors and vineyard management practices that influence crop physiology of wine and juice grapes.
- Schultz, president of Hochschule Geisenheim University in Germany. He’s viewed as an international expert on grapevine physiology and climate, and he’s conducted viticulture research in Germany, France, Australia and California.
The symposium is a part of the Ravenholt Lecture Series, which is designed to bring grape and wine industry professionals to WSU to share their research. Funding for series stems from an endowment within the Albert R. Ravenholt Foundation. Ravenholt, a pioneer in the Washington wine industry, founded Sagemoor Vineyards. He died in 2010 at the age of 90.
Members of the wine industry and students are encouraged to attend the symposium. Registration is $100, which includes the post-symposium reception. Discounts are available to students on a first-come, first-served basis, but priority will be given to WSU viticulture and enology students.