New York’s wine and grape industries fared well in the recently approved state budget and will receive $5.3 million to construct a new research and extension facility and establishment of research vineyards in a new location, and $85,000 to enhance wine and grape research and Cooperative Extension programs at Cornell University’s Hudson Valley Laboratory.
The $5.3 million will go to Cornell’s lab in Fredonia for land acquisition and new construction—a project that has more than ten years of planning behind it. A joint Cornell-industry working group is searching for a new site with acreage that reflects the soil and growing conditions of grape growers across the region. Cornell plans to sell the existing Fredonia Vineyard Laboratory and use the proceeds to help fund long-term research and extension activities at the new site, according to a news release.
The vineyard laboratory was originally built in 1909 and moved to its present location in Fredonia in 1961. Research at the lab, which has focused on increasing yields, improving quality, and lowering production costs of primarily Concord and Niagara grapes, has supported grape growers in the Lake Erie region, home to more than 60 percent of the vineyards in New York State.
Rick Dunst, manager of the lab, said that the infusion of funding supports Cornell, Penn State, and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists and educators at a crucial time for juice grape producers, who have been struggling with low prices and stiff competition from other regions.
The Hudson Valley lab has a long history of tree fruit and vegetable research, said Dr. Thomas Burr, director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. For the first time, the lab will now have responsibility for viticulture research as well, he stated in a news release.
One of the first research objectives will be to help the industry identify suitable grape-growing sites and cold-hardy grape cultivars.
Cornell researchers and extension specialists have been working to improve production practices, promote innovation, and solve problems for vintners and grape growers along the Hudson River. According to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, there are 38 wine producers in the Hudson River Valley, including Brotherhood Winery, the nation’s oldest continuously operating winery.