The research needs of Washington State’s wine industry are being explored by an industry-wide taskforce, organized by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers.

“The unprecedented expansion of the Washington wine industry in the past decade had created opportunities as well as challenges,” stated Paul Champoux in a letter addressed to the wine industry. Champoux, chair of the grower group, grows wine grapes near Paterson.

“The critical area we have not addressed in nearly a decade is research funding,” Champoux said, adding that the industry is in a position now to address a shortfall in research funds.

Viticulture and enology research in Washington is funded from a combination of wine tax dollars and WSU’s budget. At one time, about $425,000 was annually spent in the state on grape and wine research. But in 2004 and 2005, research funding dwindled to $405,000. In the same time frame, WSU has added five viticulture and enology faculty, at the request of industry.

The taskforce will explore research funding by following a similar approach that was used to address the need for clean, certified planting material, said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the grape growers association. The taskforce, comprised of representatives of the Washington Wine Commission, Washington Wine Institute, Washington State Grape Society, Grape Growers Association, WSU educators and other industry members, is charged with developing a set of recommendations to present to industry.