The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource’s Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology recently hosted a Grape and Wine Symposium on the campus of the University of Missouri.

Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with spokesperson Mark Linit:

Mark Linit

Press release from the University of Missouri

From genetics to chemistry, economics and marketing to health, the science of grape and wine production offer myriad possibilities for collaborative research.  The first Grape and Wine Symposium, sponsored by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource’s Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology, gave researchers from across the University of Missouri campus an opportunity to connect and learn more about each other’s impactful research.

“The biggest benefit for me was to meet our colleagues from Missouri State University,” said Ingolf Gruen, associate professor of food science at MU and interim director of ICCVE. “It was essential for us to meet them, to chat, to establish potential collaborations.  What they’re doing is very complementary to what we’re doing.”

Peter Hofherr, CEO of St. James Winery, uncorked the event with a history of the industry in Missouri – from Missouri’s role in rescuing the industry with its white blight resistant vines in the nineteenth century to its decline after prohibition and the present resurgence with nearly 100 wineries across the state.

“I didn’t know the history of wine making in Missouri, so the first talk was fascinating to me,” said Brenda Peculis, associate professor of biochemistry at MU.  “Jack Schultz’s talk about the diversification of plants and where they break off in gene duplication is related to a project that I have going in my lab now. It was great to connect with other researchers.  The presentations led to new ways for me to look at my own research.”

Attendees also heard about grapes as a model research plant for genetic mapping, sensory chemistry research at the ICCVE, health benefits of grapes and wine, genomics of grapevine disease resistance and marketing challenges and opportunities in emerging regions, such as Missouri.

“Wine seems to attract a lot of people to collaborate and we’re hopeful that it will make a huge difference in the industry as we go forward,” Hofherr said.

“There will be a lot more interactivity with consumers and a lot denser hospitality-wine industry and food and agricultural cluster niches,” Hofherr said.  “That opens the door for a lot of rural Missourians to step forward and produce specialty products that grow and reflect their regions.  Missouri with its diverse geographies can grow just about anything. The multitude of products, given the network that we’re building, is going to be powerful for economic development for Missouri.”

The ICCVE is working to grow Missouri’s wine industry at its experimental wine laboratory on the CAFNR campus, at wine-grape cultivar plots at the Southwest Research Center, through extension outreach programs and industry partnerships across the state.