Released November 9, 2009
COLUMBIA, Mo. –The University of Missouri has established an experimental winery to test grape varieties and growing practices in Missouri.
“Our goal is to provide information on varieties to grow and cultural practices that will enhance efficiency and profitability for the industry,” said Keith Striegler, director of the Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology.
“There are now 92 wineries in Missouri generating economic development and activity, particularly related to tourism,” he said. “Our goal is to provide an economic engine to drive this rapidly growing industry.”
It is critical to make experimental wines to take the institute’s viticulture experiments all the way through the winemaking processes, Striegler said.
These experimental wines will undergo chemical and sensory analysis as well as tasting by industry professionals. Grape varieties and cultural practices are tested for adaptation to Missouri growing conditions.
Unlike many of the most well-known winemaking regions, Missouri has a continental rather than a Mediterranean climate. This means varieties must be able to endure cold winters, hot summers, heavy rain and drought.
“Certain varieties can survive, grow and produce fruit, but don’t make good wine,” he said. “Providing information on which varieties perform best in Missouri from the vineyard to the cellar is important.”
The winery will provide hands-on training for students who want to include enology or viticulture as a track.
Missouri wineries have had to hire people from around the world. “We want to train Midwestern students who want to stay in the Midwest. In the long term, it is in the best interest of the industry to grow our own talent,” he said.
The small-scale winery includes a stemmer, crusher, a press, bottling equipment and refrigeration to maintain proper temperature during fermentations.
Currently, a large number of fermentations are being done on Chardonel wine harvested in a mechanization project. This project involves mechanical pruning and shoot thinning to balance the crop load on the vine for optimal quality.
Striegler said plans call for obtaining a commercial license and developing a label that reflects well on the university.
The Institute is part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Basic funding comes from the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, which directs funds from a statewide tax on wine sales for research, education and marketing. For more information, see http://iccve.missouri.edu.
Source: Keith Striegler, 573-882-6681
Contact: Robert E. Thomas, 573-882-2480, firstname.lastname@example.org