About Us

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–Technical 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

Dean Volenberg, PhD

Viticulture 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.

Enology Extension Professor


Connie Liu

Connie Liu

Senior Research Specialist

Connie is responsible for wine lab service, training graduate students and conducting experiments, day-to-day equipment operations and upkeep in GWI analytical Laboratory.

Zhiwei Fang

Zhiwei Fang

Senior Research Specialist

Zhiwei is nterested in identifying the grape microorganisms, both epiphytes and endophytes, and their effects on the grape quality.

Harper Smith

Harper Smith

Viticulture Research Specialist

Harper is responsible for helping to conduct viticulture extension and research that addresses concerns of Missouri grape growers. Some of her projects include cultivar and fertilizer trials, virus surveys and trunk disease screenings. Additionally, she is further investigating the role insects may play in the transmission of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus in Missouri.

Dalton Gillig

Dalton Gillig

Vineyard Manager

Karissa King

Karissa King

Media Producer


Academics at the University of Missouri include both viticulture and enology programs for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as available scholarships.

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