Grape & Wine Science Cluster Activities

Posted Jul 5th, 2018 in News Articles, Research

Grape & Wine Science Cluster Activities

On July 4th, 2018 federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, announced an investment of up to $8.4 million to the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN) under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience Clusters.

- Jill Windeatt

On July 4th, 2018 federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, announced an investment of up to $8.4 million to the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN) under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience Clusters. This is the first time grape and wine producing organizations from across the country have come together, as the CGCN, to develop a national research cluster. The breakdown of Cluster activities is as follows: 

Activity 1 – Science Coordination

(Canadian Grapevine Certification Network) Canada Wide

Science Coordination involves the coordination and monitoring of Cluster science and research activities. This includes liaising with Principal Investigators, ensuring research is aligned with priorities, reviewing annual and final results reports, and assisting researchers in organizing and executing Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) activities.

Theme 1 – Strategic Management of Grapevine Virus Diseases

Activities in this theme will determine the incidence of virus infections across Canada, the role of insect vectors and their control play in infection spread, and the virus impacts on grape yield and quality.  Results from this work will serve to develop strategies to control vectors, mitigate infection impacts to wine quality, and reduce infections in the longer term through adoption of a national clean plant replacement program.

Activity 2  


AAFC Summerland
Field strategies to mitigate the impact of grapevine viruses in British Columbia This activity continues work performed under a BC GF2 AgriInnovation Program with increased focus on the role of vectors in the spread of leafroll and red blotch viruses and on long term mitigation. Small lots of wine will be made from infected plants to assess impacts on wine sensory attributes that will be validated by sensory panels.

Activity 3 


Brock University, AAFC Vineland
Grapevine virus diseases and Virus Vector Control Survey Ontario vineyards for rate of incidence of leafroll and red blotch virus; determine rate and mode of transmission; evaluate vector populations and role; investigate impact on plant physiology and fruit quality, develop mitigation strategy for vector control.

Activity 4 


AAFC Kentville
Survey and evaluation of viruses (GVLRaV-1 and-3 and GVRBaV) and their effects on plants (including hybrids) Survey Nova Scotia vineyards for presence of virus; compare performance of infected and uninfected vines; evaluate physiological parameters; survey for presence of vectors.

Theme 2- Cold Hardiness and Adaptation to Climate Change

Research activities under this theme will explore methods to reduce crop loss risks by increasing vineyard tolerance to extreme cold events through enhanced hardiness, crop protection technologies and improved cultivar selection. Cold weather remains an ongoing challenge for the grape and wine industry across Canada. While climate change is predicted to expand areas suitable for wine grape production in the country, more frequent extreme weather events throughout the year, including cold episodes lethal to grapevines, are also predicted.

Activity 5 


Centre de recherche agroalimentaire de Mirabel (CRAM) and AAFC St-Jean-sur-Richelieu
Assessing Grapevine Cold Hardiness under Climatic Conditions of Eastern Canada by applying various techniques Three separate sub activities aim to a) develop a monitoring and modeling system for cold hardiness of a number of different cultivars; b) evaluate protection systems (geotextiles) for cold sensitive cultivars. c) assess the use of rootstocks to improve cold hardiness of hybrid cultivars. 

Activity 6 


AAFC Summerland
Factors Affecting Grapevine Winter Hardiness 6 objectives are to a) study effect of timed water stress, root stock selection, young vine protection and vine senescence on hardiness; b) continue bud hardiness testing and develop model that can replace testing; c) continue to investigate bud and phloem tissue exposed to cold temperatures; d) explore grapevine root hardiness and impact of cold injuries to roots; e) assess grapevine disease effect on winter hardiness; f) identify cold hardy vines for clonal selection.

Activity 7 

(Willwerth/ Wright)

Brock University and AAFC Kentville
Grapevine evaluation and cold hardiness program to ensure superior plant material for the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network and to improve the sustainability of the Canadian Grape and Wine Industry Main objectives are to: a) evaluate grapevine material for performance, cold tolerance and quality and improve the sustainability of the entire Grape and Wine Industry; b) Assist with selection of superior plant material for the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network as well as future plantings across Ontario.

Theme 3: Sustainable Management of Soil, Water and Crop Quality

This theme focuses on reducing the environmental footprint of grape production, conservation of resources such as water and energy, preservation of natural components of vineyard ecosystems and the impact of responsible management on fruit and wine quality.

Activity 8 


AAFC St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Centre de recherche agroalimentaire de Mirabel
Evaluate the cost-effectiveness of canopy management practices as an aid to reduce disease pressure Objectives: a) survey of the Quebec grape industry to evaluate the current canopy management practices including timing, level of exposure and the grower’s expected benefit; b) investigate the influence of canopy and fruit zone management practices on microclimate, fungicide penetration (efficiency of coverage), disease progress, pathogen populations and yield losses (damages); c) adaptation of disease management decisions for canopy and fruit zone management practices; d) determine the economics of canopy management practices for disease management and fruit quality using cost/benefit analysis

Activity 9 

(Pedneault/ DeLong)

Universite Sainte-Anne and AAFC Kentville
Optimization of grape production in Eastern Canada: Toward an understanding of the relationships between growing conditions, berry ripening, berry maturity assessment, and wine quality Objectives are to: a) understand the impact of temperature on berry ripening, composition and sensory perception in Vitis varieties grown in Eastern Canada using an experimental approach; b) optimize harvest decisions to improve wine quality in Eastern Canada: Insights into berry to wine sensory perception and consumer preference; c) develop a non-destructive model for assessing grape maturity at harvest & advancing harvest maturity of Nova Scotia wine grapes.

Activity 10 


AAFC Summerland and Perrenia
Water and nutrient management strategies, and health promoting natural products can reduce the competition between grapevine and cover crops and enhance health and productivity of vineyards. The focus of this study is on water and nutrient management for Canadian vineyards. Specific objectives: a) to investigate Subsurface Water Retention Technology (SWRT) and biochar-compost mixture inter-row application for improving soil water holding capacity and reducing the competition between grape vine and cover crops for water and nutrients. b) To evaluate the effect of Vermi Compost (VC), VC tea and Stella Maris application rate, method and frequency on yield, fruit quality, plant nutrient status and plant and/or soil health 

Theme 4 – Optimizing the Quality of Canadian Wines

Research under this theme is focused on improving quality of Canadian wines in a way that ensures the environmental sustainability of the production cycle and maintains and grows public trust. Needs addressed are further improvements in wine quality, consistency and value relative to imported wines, and enhanced product diversity in tune with modern consumer preferences which include natural products.

Activity 11 


AAFC Summerland
Nitrogen Management in Viticulture and Enology: Improving grape and wine quality and enhancing vineyard sustainability through precision management of N and strategies to increase natural yeast assimilable nitrogen in grapes and wine Objectives a) Vineyard nitrogen management: Soil and foliar N application to determine the impact on and relationships among amino acid profiles, yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN) content, fruit quality, bud hardiness and flavonoids (pigment and tannin); evaluate the effectiveness of N application to alleviate leaf roll virus symptoms of reduced yield and maturity; spectral imaging and precision management for vineyard N status using drone technology. b) Wine nitrogen management: Evaluate early and late broadcast N and late foliar N application in the field for impacts on wine quality including amino acid profiles, fermentation kinetics, sensory evaluation, wine protein content and compounds related to N metabolism (e.g. Flavonoids); determine the influence that amino acid composition and diammonium phosphate additions have on wine flavour, aroma profiles and fermentation kinetics; evaluate YAN requirements in icewine and high sugar musts with respect to recent findings on yeast nutrition such as biotin, pantothenic acid and other vitamin requirements. Evaluate wine proline content in relation to field conditions and nitrogen treatments and determine if there is a relationship with wine body.
Activity 12 


Brock University
TanninAlert: Improving Canadian red wine quality and consumer acceptance through winemaking techniques by grape variety and tannin level The main objective of this project is to improve Canadian red wine quality by ensuring grape phenolic ripeness is incorporated into harvest decisions. Scientific knowledge for the Canadian wine industry regarding tannin concentrations in seeds and skins of varieties specific to wine style will be acquired. This will result in red winemaking guidelines tailored to tannin concentrations from the grape tannin database. The program will initially start to build a database in Ontario, but once established, will be extended to the rest of Canada.
Activity 13 


AAFC Kentville, Saint Francis Xavier University and Mount Saint Vincent University
Improving wine quality through mixed and sequential fermentations with indigenous yeasts Key objectives: a) to determine the species composition and relative abundance of indigenous yeasts and MLF bacteria in select Nova Scotia vineyards; b) to characterize the microbial consortia in spontaneous fermentations of musts derived from these vineyards, and correlate this information to the structure of the corresponding vineyard microbial communities; c) to relate the indigenous vineyard microbial communities and the microbial communities of fermenting musts to the chemistries and organoleptic qualities of the resulting wines; d) to investigate the competitive interactions between indigenous and commercial yeasts as well as between yeasts and MLF bacteria during fermentation.
Activity 14 


Brock University
Improving sparkling and still wine quality: preventing high volatile acidity, honey off-flavour and other faults that reduce wine quality through natural Canadian indigenous yeast isolates The overall objectives of this project will serve to identify if two “sweet/honey” off-flavours from ethyl phenylacetate (EPhA) and phenylacetic acid (PhAA) are present in Ontario Pinot noir grapes as a result of sour rot infection as well as in sparkling and still wines fermented from those grapes; test consumer acceptance of the compounds in red and sparkling wines; and test if natural indigenous yeast isolates from Canadian vineyards can remove the compounds along with acetic acid. Furthermore, a natural yeast isolated from an Ontario vineyard will be trialed for commercial scale red wine production.

Theme 5 – Reducing the Environmental Impact of Crop Protection in Grapes

Research activities in this theme aim to more accurately predict the onset of pest and disease threats.  Proposed research will also develop novel tools to monitor and address these threats in ways that will dramatically change the current approach to pest recognition and control across the country.

Activity 15  


AAFC Summerland
Unearthing the impacts of plant-parasitic nematodes on grapevine health and productivity Objectives: a) Determine the distribution of key species of plant-parasitic nematodes (PPNs) in relation to soil health indicators in representative Okanagan vineyards; b) assess spatial co-variation of PPN populations with vine water stress, vine decline symptoms in virus-infected and virus-free grapevines, and the incidence of trunk and crown gall diseases;      c) use controlled-inoculation of field micro-plots to experimentally determine effects of key PPN species and mixtures on incidence and expression of disease complexes; d) determine the presence and abundance of key PPN species in representative vineyards in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Activity 16 


University of British Columbia
Novel approaches to IPM strategies for climbing cutworm in wine grapes Objective: To develop an IPM strategy which makes best use of nematodes to manage cutworms in Canadian wine grapes.
Activity 17 


AAFC Summerland
Development of sustainable management practices for leafhoppers on grapes Objectives: a) determine the Anagrus species parasitizing leafhopper eggs in BC and ON and search for their winter plant hosts; b) evaluate if provision of alternate winter hosts of A. erythroneurae can enhance parasitism of WGL in commercial vineyards; c) evaluate in the laboratory the deterrency of new plant-based materials to VCL and conduct field spray trials with these and with deterrent essential oils identified previously; d) assess the efficacy of new ‘softer’ insecticides under field conditions; e) improve accuracy of damage thresholds in relation to water stress and determine the effect of timed, short term deficit irrigation on leafhopper populations.
Activity 18 


Brock University
Mitigation of infestations of multi-coloured Asian lady beetle in Ontario vineyards Objectives: a) evaluate effectiveness of alternatives for managing Multicoloured Asian Ladybeetle (MALB) infestation using repellants such as potassium metabisulfite, kaolin clay and botanical extracts; b) evaluate the efficacy of the optical sorter on harvesters for removing MALB in the vineyard; c) develop best management practices for managing MALB in Ontario vineyards.
Activity 19 


University of British Columbia     
Using groundcover to control soil borne pathogens in grapevine Objectives: a) assess existing ground cover management/disease incidence in the Okanagan wine growing region; b) develop ground cover mixes (and management) that reduce root disease; c) test (b) and monitor common vine diseases in commercial vineyards. 
Activity 20 


University of British Columbia
Crown Gall Disease of Grapevines: Identification of a biocontrol and sustainable management strategies Objectives: a) Testing of dormant grapevine nursery stock for abundance of Agrobacterium vitis; b) isolation of potential biocontrols against A. vitis from vineyards in British Columbia and Ontario; c) evaluation of potential biocontrols to prevent crown gall in a greenhouse assay; d) evaluation of organic amendments to prevent or suppress crown gall in a greenhouse assay; e) evaluation of compost and copper treatments to suppress crown gall in a commercial vineyard; f) evaluation of organic amendments, inter-row cover crops and copper treatments to prevent crown gall in an experimental vineyard. 
Activity 21 


AAFC Summerland
From nursery to vineyard: implementation of effective management strategies against grapevine trunk diseases in Canada Objectives:  1. Management of GTD in nurseries and young vineyards a) investigate non-destructive methods and evaluate molecular tools to efficiently detect Grapevine Trunk Diseases (GTD) pathogens in nursery material; b) evaluate the status of domestic and imported nursery material with regard of GTD; c) determine abiotic stress factors favoring GTD development in newly established vineyards. 2. Management of GTD in mature vineyards. a) investigate and implement novel and existing chemicals and/or biological control agents against GTD; b) investigate and implement best cultural practices to mitigate GTD under BC growing conditions

Theme 6 – Reducing the Environmental Impact through novel Disease Prediction and Crop Monitoring Tools

Research under this theme focuses on development of a successful sustainable pest management strategy beginning with accurate recognition pests and disease. Novel tools such as multispectral and hyperspectral imaging tools as well as DNA-based monitoring tools will be used as an approach to pest recognition and control across the country, resulting in healthier fruit and a reduction in the use of pest control products.

Activity 22 


AAFC Summerland
Spatial Characterization of Terroir and other Vineyard Attributes using GIS and Imaging Tools to Guide Precision Management for Water and Nitrogen and to Detect Infections by Virus and other Pathogens. Objective: a) update and modernize the Viticulture GIS and vineyard map inventory for BC and define vineyard soil textural classes for vineyard blocks to guide irrigation and N recommendations based on soil water and N holding capacities. Determine the impacts of viticulture practices on soil carbon sequestration in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Provide ongoing advice to ON and NS on employing soil definitions in GIS platforms to guide the sustainable management of water, N and C in vineyards; b) improve irrigation recommendations through studies of seasonally timed water stress interactions with fruit exposure (canopy manipulations) and their influences on fruit and wine quality (composition and sensory); c) develop methods to detect vine water stress and nitrogen status through drone based imaging (thermal emission, and multi- and hyper-spectral reflectance) to guide precision management of irrigation and N fertilization.  Nitrogen management studies will be linked to the Activity led by K. Usher; d) develop methods to detect infections by virus (e.g. leafroll), fungi (e.g. trunk diseases), and bacteria (e.g. crown gall) pathogens in vineyards using multi- and hyper-spectral reflectance imaging. This work will be linked to Activities led by J. Úrbez Torres and T. Voegel.

Activity 23: Knowledge and Technology Transfer

(Canadian Grapevine Certification Network) Canada Wide

Knowledge mobilization and technology transfer initiatives will be accessible to end-users in all provinces across Canada involved in the grape and wine industry to ensure maximum adoption and impact.  Through partnering with academic, federal and provincial research institutions across the country involved in the cluster, new knowledge and technology transfer initiatives will be developed and pre-existing, successful programs exploited for this purpose.

While every activity in this project has its own approach to deliver Knowledge and Technology transfer, the CGCN will develop tools to complement this work.   

From Our Team

  • CGCN certification will make a long-term contribution to the continuous pursuit of excellence of the Canadian wine sector by ensuring that the best quality, disease free propagating material is available to the grape industry.
    Hans Buchler, Chair of CGCN
Questions? Feel free to contact us.

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