Grape research in Washington State will soon receive a financial boost from the Washington Wine Commission.
The commission will set aside about $100,000 for research this year from industry assessments that it collects. Last year, growers and wine producers approved an increase in their assessment rates from $6 per ton of grapes and 4 cents per gallon of wine to up to a maximum of $12 per ton and 8 cents per gallon of wine. The assessment rates for 2007 were set at $10 per ton of grapes and 6 cents per gallon of wine.
With the new assessment rates, the Wine Commission will, for the first time, dedicate industry funds to viticulture and enology research and education, said Robin –Pollard, executive director of the commission. She noted that 5 percent of the assessment revenue received by the commission will be earmarked for research and education, of which about $100,000 has been set aside for research in 2008.
"The additional funding will help our state to compete globally to be recognized as one of the top wine regions in the world," she said, adding that the new Wine Commission money represents a 20 percent increase for enology and viticulture research in the state.
The Wine Commission’s projected budget for fiscal year 2007 was $2.8 million, which included an estimated $1.6 million from assessments and $1.2 million from grants and event revenues. Based on projected industry growth, the Wine Commission estimates its budget in 2011 will be around $5.1 million, with $3.7 million –coming from industry assessments.
The Wine Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the Wine Commission, oversees grape and wine research in the state. The committee comprises ten viticultural and enological representatives from industry and one member of the Wine Commission’s board of directors. The five viticultural representatives are appointed by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and the five wine representatives are appointed by the Wine Technical Group. Administrative support for the committee is –provided by 501 Consultants, Inc.
Committee members set research priorities, call for research proposals, review proposals and the status of ongoing research, and make funding recommendations to Washington State University. All committee meetings, including the meeting held to make funding recommendations, are open to the public. Growers and wine –producers are encouraged to attend to provide input.
Juice grape research in Washington is funded by a voluntary assessment on processed juice grapes. The Concord Research Council, made up of juice processor representatives, oversees research projects related to juice grapes. The amount contributed for juice-grape-related research fluctuates depending on the size of the crop, but in recent years, WSU has received $92,000 to $124,000 annually from the juice grape industry.