11-Mar-10 08:13 | Eric Stafne

In the OGGWMA March minutes I noticed the section below:

  1. Including OSU as part of the voting membership (and presumably would direct funding to OSU) would fracture the efforts of the Viticulture and Enology Center, dividing up a relatively small amount of money into smaller portions that would result in the inability to fund projects of any size.

I was surprised to see that the efforts of OSU were put in a negative light.  As the voice for the Viticulture and Enology Program at OSU, I feel I must defend the program.  The presumption that OSU would attempt to funnel off funding is not correct.  Certainly, if funding were available, OSU would like to be able to compete for those funds; but our goal is to create a sustainable industry.  A voting membership for OSU would give some scientific oversight to the committee.

The mischaracterization of OSU as a voting member to siphon off funds is unfair.  OSU has a wide range of research and extension efforts that have and will continue to benefit the Oklahoma industry.  We are working on a state, regional, and national basis with highly recognized researchers to help raise the profile of the Oklahoma industry.  We are doing this with little funding coming from the Oklahoma viticulture and enology industry.  We realize that the industry plays an important role in the growing economy of Oklahoma and we wish to nurture that role.

Another point that is mischaracterized in the argument against OSU is the dollar amounts generated.  Even though the funding may be “small” those funds are usually leveraged as matching dollars in grants or other methods.  They also are indicative of industry support, which many granting agencies now require.

I am disappointed that some folks out there believe we are the bad guys.  We want all of you to succeed.  OSU has poured millions of dollars into grants, positions, courses, travel, etc. that have directly gone to support the viticulture and enology industry in Oklahoma through research and extension programming.  I have been here almost 5 years.  Before I came the extent of the viticulture and enology programming was the Grape Management Short Course developed by my predecessor Dean McCraw and a vineyard trial at Perkins.  Since 2006, a research enology facility was built on campus, a plant pathologist was hired, several other faculty member who previously had not worked on grapes are now working on projects involving grapes, several graduate students with grape related projects are on campus, the Perkins vineyard has expanded, two more vineyards in Bixby and OKC have been installed, numerous publications, workshops, and more — see below:

-OSU has been involved in the industry since the inception of the university in 1890

– OSU has published > 150 articles and publications on grapes, juice, and wine since 1894

– 594 students taught from 2001-2010 in the OSU Grape Management Short Course

– At least 57 of 77 Oklahoma counties represented in those students, plus 7 other states

– Students have estimated an average savings of $6,000 in start-up costs per student by taking the course; this equates to nearly $3.6 million dollars for all students over the life of the course

– 61% of current Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association (OGGWMA) members have taken the course and 78 past and present members of the Lincoln County Grape Growers Association (as of Dec. 2009)

– 11 OSU faculty members, 3 staff, and 4 graduate students currently working on grape-related projects

– Competitive grant funds have been garnered by OSU to support viticulture and enology on a state, regional, and national basis totaling more than $1M

– OSU is the primary institution in creating a national grape extension website through USDA-NIFA with collaboration from 13 other states (http://cris.nifa.usda.gov/cgi-bin/starfinder/0?path=fastlink1.txt&id=anon&pass=&search=R=34171&format=WEBLINK)

– OSU hosted the National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership Conference in 2009 in Oklahoma City

– Dr. Stafne is vice-chair of the National Grape and Wine Initiative (NGWI) extension and outreach committee (www.ngwi.org)

– Dr. Smith has spearheaded the creation of the Grapevine Disease Testing Service through the OSU Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostic Lab (http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-6019/L-328%20Grape%20Diseases.pdf)

– OSU was the first institution to document many new insect and disease issues facing grape growers in Oklahoma, including Pierce’s Disease

– Dr. McGlynn has established a research enology facility at the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center on the campus of OSU

– The OSU Viticulture and Enology program publishes the only grape-related newsletter for the Oklahoma industry (http://www.grapes.okstate.edu/levigneron.html), now in its fifth year

– OSU has published the Handbook of Oklahoma Vineyard Establishment and Management with specific recommendations for Oklahoma growing conditions

That is just a sampling of what we have done and we will continue to move forward.  Please check out our website for more information (www.grapes.okstate.edu).  We are here to help.  Feel free to comment or contact me.  I would be happy to discuss anything we do with you.