WSU researchers are collaborating with colleagues in New York to give North American white wines a competitive advantage in the world market.
 “We want to help the U.S. come up with a product that consumers want to buy over (products from) other countries,” said Joan Davenport, project director and professor. “We want the United States to be number one.”
Toward that end, the team will host a series of meetings next year to ask wine-grape growers about their nitrogen management practices. The project is funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Specialty Crops Research Initiative.
The project is intended to develop an interdisciplinary multistate team to study the impact of nutrient management, with the long-term goal of fertilizer recommendations for growers that make U.S. grapes — and wine — the best.
Davenport, food scientist Kerry Ringer and viticulture extension specialist Mercy Olmstead have teamed with three scientists from Cornell University to conduct the research.
“What’s tricky is that too much nitrogen can make the grapes grow too vigorously and taste bad,” Davenport said. On the other hand, insufficient nitrogen can cause problems with the yeast production needed to make wine.
Ringer said she hopes to have a better understanding of how nitrogen management affects aroma, since most of her research has been with aroma compounds.
“We want to make better-smelling wine for the consumer,” she said.
Her goal is the highest quality product “from the vine, to the bottle, to your table.”