The Grape and Wine Institute
The Grape and Wine Institute (GWI) is a partnership between the University of Missouri and the Missouri Wine and Grape Board (MWGB). Research and Extension activities of GWI are directed by a collaborative alliance consisting of MWGB members as well as non-members of the grape growing and winemaking community. GWI faculty committed to supporting Missouri grape growing and winemaking.
Mission of GWI
To support the growth and prosperity of the continental climate grape and wine industry through education, research, and outreach.
Vision of GWI
To be the leading source of knowledge for a sustainable, progressive continental climate wine industry, providing world class research, teaching and outreach services to the grape and wine industry.
The University of Missouri Grape and Wine Institute conducts research on best winemaking and grape growing practices and how they impact the growth of the grape and wine industries in Missouri and the Midwest. Two faculty positions are dedicated to delivering research results to fulfill the mission of the GWI. These research faculty positions are dedicated to viticulture and enology. Another faculty position is dedicated to Extension outreach, delivering research-based information to winemakers and grape growers.
A hundred years ago, Missouri was the second-largest wine producing state after New York. Today, the Missouri wine industry ranks around 10th in total wine production. Missouri has a rich history in wine and grape research. In the 1860s, the French grape industry declined from an insect pest called phylloxera. Missouri's first state entomologist Charles Valentine Riley, winemaker and grape grower Hermann Jaeger, and University of Missouri professor George Hussman worked to solve the plague decimating the French grape industry. Grafting phylloxera sensitive European grape vines onto hardy North American root stocks resulted in immunity to phylloxera. Still today, rootstock research continues at GWI.
Current research at GWI focuses on delivering impactful results to continually drive forward the Missouri grape and wine industry. Missouri Wine and Grape Board-Research Committee steer the research. Further, research at GWI draws on the numerous collaborations both within MU and externally including collaborations with Saint Louis University, Missouri State University, and Lincoln University. Externally, collaborations span nationally and internationally.
The GWI provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in viticulture and enology. Students gain experiences at the three research vineyards located in Columbia, New Franklin and Mount Vernon as well as within research laboratories. Providing hands-on experience in vineyards and laboratories prepares students to join one of over 130 Missouri wineries.
Missouri grape and wine industry is an important component to the state's economy. The Missouri grape and wine industry has a $3.2 billion economic impact annually and provides more than 28,000 jobs.
Missouri Wine and Grape Board funds GWI. The board directs funds from a statewide tax on wine sales for research, extension, education and marketing.
Dean Volenberg, PhD
Assistant Extension Professor
Dean works closely with other members of the viticulture and enology program to transfer knowledge gained through GWI research to grape producers and winery operators. Dean's applied research viticulture program examines the impact of canopy management, vine balance, and integrated pest management practices on grape quality. Although his research is often directed at specific industry concerns having long-term implications, his extension program is dynamic and responsive to seasonal industry needs including grape production and processing.
Megan Hall, PhD
Viticulture Research Leader
Assistant Research Professor
Megan's current research focuses on characterizing the grape microbiome, both epiphytic and endophytic communities, as well as understanding how those communities can be manipulated through management strategies. Characterization of these communities takes place using qPCR and Illumina sequencing technology. Additional research projects conducted in her lab include understanding the role of Drosophila fruit flies in the sour rot complex (a late-season bunch rot affecting grapes close to harvest), and determining the effect of micronutrient foliar applications on vine yield and phytohormone levels.
Enology Research Specialist — Kwasniewski Lab
Connie is responsible for day-to-day equipment operations and upkeep, training graduate students and conducting experiments in the enology laboratory.
Senior Research Specialist — Hall Lab
Interested in identifying the grape microorganisms, both epiphytes and endophytes, and their effects on the grape quality.
Maimaiti (Matt) Maimaitiyiming
Post Doctoral Fellow — Kwasniewski Lab
Matt is an expert in remote sensing and he uses ground-, airborne-, and satellite-based observations for characterizing vine physiology, which is critical for berry quality and yield. He exploits a combination of remote sensing data, advanced machine learning/deep learning techniques, and field measurements for developing robust prediction models for vine productivity, ultimately providing applied approaches to boost grape and wine industry. Currently, he is working on several projects, collecting remote sensing data as well as assisting with other aspect of project management. His primary focus is on the SWC, however, we have also been collecting data in other sites related to temporal changes as well as looking for spectral signatures to identify molybdenum deficient vineyards.
Graduate Research Assistant — Hall Lab
My research focuses on grapevine trunk disease (GTD) which is an emerging fungal disease complex that affects vineyards worldwide. GTD causes general vine decline and can lead to eventual death of the vine. The fungal pathogens typically enter through pruning wounds and can cause cankers to form. Previous research has shown that GTD affects mature vines older than 12-years-old but little is known about the effects of GTD in young vines. My research seeks to understand the effects of GTD pathogens on young vines and explore the relationship between trunk splitting and GTD.
Graduate Research Assistant — Hall Lab
A major challenge facing viticulture is managing the onset of cluster diseases that affect the overall health of grapes and have a negative impact on wine quality. My primary research focus is on sour rot, which involves a complex interaction among yeast and bacterial strains present in the environment partnered with the persistence of fruit flies. My objective is the understand how fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) influence the incidence and severity of sour rot and more importantly, the effects that adults and larva have on grapes as adults lay eggs and larvae feed within clusters. With understanding the etiology of sour rot we can better comprehend methodologies behind proper management and prevention of outbreaks through the maturation process; incorporating effective and sustainable practices for vineyards in Missouri. Trust me, it is not the smells that brought me to this project!
Graduate Research Assistant — Kwasniewski Lab
Due to their disease tolerance and cold hardy nature, interspecific hybrid grapes are widely grown in the Midwest, including Missouri. However, the aroma profile of these hybrids are unique and generally less popular in comparison to the V. vinifera grapes. Mani Awale's research focus on identifying the grape derived free and bound volatiles in hybrid grapes and wines, using the more inclusive non-targeted metabolomics and understanding the role of physiology, different rootstocks and water stress on the aroma precursors in grapes and wines.
Graduate Research Assistant — Kwasniewski Lab
Tannins play a crucial role in the flavor development and stability of red wines, which directly relates to quality and the ability to age a wine. The majority of red grapes grown in the state of Missouri are hybrid red cultivars that have trouble extracting and retaining tannins due to mostly unknown tannin binding agents. Alex's research focuses on understanding the compounds in these red cultivars that may impact tannin concentrations in a finished wine.
Alex's extension work focuses on enology education through workshops that focus on specific issues affecting wineries throughout the state and general winemaking education. Along with workshops, Alex also helps run and maintain the research winery at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Graduate Research Assistant — Co-advised by Volenberg and Finke
I'm a master's student advised by Dr. Dean Volenberg and Dr. Debbie Finke in the insect ecology lab. My research is focused on a virus in grapevines called Grapevine Red Blotch virus, and I'm working to identify the insect vector here in Missouri. I work in infected vineyards in and around Hermann and Columbia studying the vector ecology of this disease.
Academics at the University of Missouri include both viticulture and enology programs for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as available scholarships.