And... she's back! And I haven't let the jetlag from my trip to Istanbul and Cyprus slow me down a bit. Afterall, I have your needs first! I launched right into tasting season here in Beantown on Wednesday afternoon, spitting so you don't have to. Being out in the "field" does challenge a girl to stay on top of other wine related news. But in the fray, I found something this week I thought might be interesting for us to banter about: oenolgoical research. A few weeks ago I posted about dogs in the vineyard and their role in sniffing out vine mealy bugs. Additional research for that post really got my curiosity up about other projects underway to help winemakers and viticulturists do what they do best. Then a couple of days ago I saw an article on Wines & Vines (my source for nerdier information about what's do'n in the trade) about Dr. Kennedy abandoning ship in Oregon for better funded research opportunities in Australia.
Booming wine biz Down Under certainly has made that part of the world a sweet haven of luscious research. Those guys aren't afraid to take a risk - applying modern techniques to their wine making approach and out in the fields. But calculated risk-taking is all the better. And so the Australian Government have done their part to fund research on a variety of topics including Pierce's Disease, one that first emerged in the US winemaking regions of California and Florida. Even a quick Google search loads numerous links to organizations like the Australian Wine Research Institute and the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, an organization/partnership between the Aussie Government and the wine industry. If you do the same search with US inserted, you get links to information about wine and health-related research, not winemaking et. al.
In the US industry money feeds the research engine. The last I know of research funding coming from within the US federal government was an attempt to integrate a request for funding via the Farm Bill in 1995; (I don't think it was on the roster last year when this bill was up again, but please correct me if I'm wrong). I don't think that attempt was successful, either. State funding is likely another can of worms. I'd be shocked if California, for example, doesn't have some funds allocated accordingly.
I'm not terribly surprised that wine research funding isn't a national priority. And I'm not even advocating that it should be. But it is an interesting bit of news. How many more US researchers are going to abandon ship? Dr. Kennedy is making the move on the heels of Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling, formerly of Cornell.
What do you think? Should the wine industry bare the brunt of funding research? Do you know how much funding comes from which sources here in the US?