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Eastern U.S. Wine Industry Meets ASEV's Eastern Section takes on stink bugs, winemaking and grapegrowing
by Linda Jones McKee and Hudson Cattell
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Oenol-Entertainers: (left to right) Hans Walter-Peterson, Anna Katharine Mansfield and Fritz Westover get the crowd warmed up at the Oenolympics.
Baltimore, Md.—Pest management joined winemaking and grapegrowing on the agenda at the American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s 36th annual Eastern Section conference held July 11-14 in Baltimore. “Pest Management Symposium: Impacts in the Vineyard and Winery” took aim at a wide variety of pests and problems from grapevine yellows to leafroll to late-season fruit rots and stink bugs.
One session included a tasting of wines made from stink bug-contaminated juice. Stink bugs are appropriately named—when crushed, they emit a strong odor, sometimes described as “citrusy” or “piney.” When large numbers of brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) devastated the peach crop in Maryland during the 2010 harvest, grapegrowers and winemakers worried about the impact of BMSB taints on wine, if these pests were present in grape clusters or harvest lugs and inadvertently crushed into the juice.
Dr. Joe Fiola, extension specialist in viticulture and small fruit at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville, worked with Dr. Tony Wolf at Virginia Tech during the 2010 harvest to conduct trials and determine the potential for BMSB to contaminate wine. During the Pest Management Symposium, grapegrowers, winemakers and other researchers tasted the research results.
Fiola added specified numbers of stink bugs to different lots of both white and red juice from stink bug-free grapes. “I used to like cilantro,” Fiola told Wines & Vines. “But the aroma of cilantro caused by the stink bugs in grape juice has ruined that flavor for me.” Each lot of juice was then fermented, and over the winter the wine was finished and bottled.
At the Eastern Section meeting, each participant tasted three glasses of white wine and three glasses of red wine. The goal was to determine which wine, if any, was made from BMSB-dosed juice. Fiola served one glass of control wine and two stink bug-tainted wines in each flight. With both the white and red wines, the group could not detect any levels of stink bug taint in either the aroma or the taste—good news indeed for the wine industry.
While this news of unaffected wine quality came as a happy surprise, grapegrowers remain concerned that stink bugs may cause damage as they feed on grapes. The BMSB suck the juice from grapes, leaving shriveled berries in a bunch. The site where the bug’s proboscis penetrates the berry may become a place where other rots and diseases can further damage the clusters.
Research continues on a variety of crops to determine how to control or eliminate BMSB: To date no perfect spray has been found. In eastern Asia, where the BMSB originated, a parasitic wasp controls population levels, but, needless to say, researchers are hesitant to import another potential pest that might have other negative impacts in North America.
Eastern Section awards and scholarships
At the section’s annual banquet July 13, Dr. Bruce W. Zoecklein, emeritus professor of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech, received the Eastern Section’s Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his distinguished career in Missouri and Virginia. The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Lallemand Inc. in gratitude for sponsoring the student paper competition for many years. Clayton Cone accepted on behalf of Lallemand.
Eight $1,000 student scholarships were awarded this year. Recipients, listed here with their institutions and major professors, were: Patricia Chalfant and Yi Zhang, Ohio State (Imed Dami); Celine Coquard-Lenerz and Mark Nisbet, Cornell (Anna Katharine Mansfield); Cain Hickey, Virginia Tech (Tony Wolf); Lydia Rice, Arkansas (Jean-Francois Meullenet); Imelda Ryona, Cornell (Gavin Sacks); Amanda Stewart , Purdue (Christian Butzke).
The student paper competition, sponsored by Lallemand Inc. and National Grape Cooperative, awarded $500 each to Patricia Chalfant and Vinay Pagay, a student of Alan Lakso at Cornell.
Results of elections for the coming year were announced at the annual business meeting. Fritz Westover of Texas A&M becomes chairperson-elect. Three new directors were elected: Katie Cook, University of Minnesota; Jodi Cresap-Gee, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Paolo Sabbatini, Michigan State University. Kevin Ker of KCMS Applied Research and Consulting was re-elected.
Hans Walter-Peterson of Cornell Cooperative Extension was installed as the chairperson for 2011-12; this year’s chair, Imed Dami of Ohio State University, remains on the board of directors as past chairperson.
The next annual conference will be held at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Mich., from July 15 to July 19, 2012.
The winning team participates in the first Oenolympics challenge: uncorking bottles using non-traditional uncorking implements.
ASEV’s Eastern Section has always emphasized participation of enology and viticulture students from the colleges and universities throughout the East that train future industry leaders. Scholarships honor top students, and students are encouraged to present their research in the student paper competition during the conference.
This year, after the pest-management symposium, three teams of students competed in an inaugural Oenolympics, cheered on by their professors and other attendees. Under the guidance of Dr. Anna Katharine Mansfield, toga-wrapped “wine goddess,” and entertained by SNL hopefuls Hans Walter-Peterson and Fritz Westover, teams mixed from various schools undertook four challenging tasks.
First, they had to open six bottles of wine using a variety of implements, none of them designed for the task at hand. Second, they siphoned wine from a jug into six bottles, and recorked them. Next, each team had to spit wine accurately into a pitcher, with each participant moving farther from the pitcher. In the fourth task, two students on each team were blindfolded and served tastes of six wines by their teammates. They were required to identify the six wines by both for their variety and their states of origin.
Ultimately, the team of Cain Hickey (Virginia Tech), Celine Coquard-Lenerz (Cornell University), Alexandra Ray (Southern Illinois University), and Amanda Stewart (Purdue University), was declared the winner. The victors took home bottles of wine and, of course, bragging rights.
Patricia Chalfant tries to guess the grape variety and state of origin after sipping wines during the Oenolympics.