University of Missouri MU Grape and Wine Institute College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
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About the Grape and Wine Institute

Don't like the weather? Just wait a few minutes and it'll change! That's what Missourians say about the weather in this Midwestern state. Missouri has a unique climate with unpredictable weather, which affects yield and quality of the grapes grown in the state.

The MU Grape and Wine Institute (GWI) conducts research on best winemaking and grape growing practices and how they impact the growth of the wine industry in Missouri and the Midwest.

Grape Harvest

A hundred years ago, Missouri was the second-largest wine producing state after New York. Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) played a key role in saving the French wine industry in the mid-1800s when grapevines in Europe were dying from a parasitic grape pest phylloxera. European grape varieties were saved through being grafted onto American grapevine rootstocks. The GWI continues rootstock research.

Today, Missouri wines are making a comeback and are winning national and international awards.

At GWI, faculty research and teaching teams are working on viticulture (grape production) and enology (wine production), involving students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Student researching grapes.

Working in the research lab will enable the students to get hands-on experience. This experience will better prepare them to work at vineyards and at one of the over 90 wineries Missouri has throughout the state, which currently are forced to hire out-of-state workers unfamiliar with Missouri's climate and soil conditions.

MU, as a land-grant institution in the state, not only conducts world-class research, but also takes the knowledge gained to the people of the state through extension programs.

Areas of Research

  • Cultural practices for Missouri soils and climate
  • Development of disease-resistant and high-yield grape varieties
  • Insect and other pest controls
  • Rootstock development
  • Fermentation and wine production
  • Storage, handling and service in the wine industry

Other possibilities for research thrusts include a statewide breeding program that would aim to develop new grape varieties best suited to Missouri's climate. The wine industry in Missouri is an important part of the state's economy, with more than $6 million in retail sales in 2005 in addition to contributing $189 million to Missouri tourism. The GWI's research in viticulture and enology will have a positive impact on the development and growth of the industry.

The institute is funded by the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, which directs funds from a statewide tax on wine sales for research, education and marketing.

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