Research History & Funding

Wine Advisory Committee Members

The Wine Research Advisory Committee (WRAC), a subcommittee of Washington State Wine, serves as the scientific review arm for the wine industry. Each year, the WRAC establishes research priorities based on industry stakeholder input, issues Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to the scientific research community and reviews research reports and proposals. The volunteer members of WRAC make annual research funding recommendations for approval by the Board of Commissioners of Washington State Wine. 


2016-2017 WRAC Members

Chair, Rick Hamman, Hogue Ranches, Prosser

Joy Andersen, 14 Hands Winery, Prosser

Dick Boushey, Boushey Vineyards, Grandview

Brian Carter Brian Carter Cellars, Woodinville

Kevin Corliss Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Prosser

Julia Kock Klipsun Vineyards, Benton City

Mike Means, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Paterson

Kay Simon, Chinook Winery, Prosser

Bruce Watson, Seattle, Wine Consultant

Scott Williams, Kiona Vineyards and Winery, Benton City

Wade Wolfe, Thurston Wolfe Winery, Prosser


After adopted by the industry, more than 30 years of research has resulted in game-changing cultural and winemaking practices that share the goal of improved wine quality. Highlights of past research that have been adopted by the industry:

  • Pest management: WSU innovated pest control strategies to develop a grapevine trunk barrier application for cutworms that eliminated the need for broad-spectrum pesticides and has reduced the use of pesticides by 80 percent from 1995 to 2005. WSU estimated that eliminating organophosphates in the mid-2000s—when there were 28,000 acres of wine grapes in the state—added $15 million to the growers’ bottom line by saving $1 million annually in reduced insecticide costs and increasing yields by .5 ton per acre from improved cutworm control, valued at $14 million. Savings today would be nearly double the $15 million based on 50,000 acres of wine grapes. An added benefit has been fewer spider mite outbreaks; growers no longer need season-long control of mites and can control mites with one miticide application, saving up to $100 per acre annually in miticide costs or $3.5 million on a statewide basis.  
  • Irrigation: WSU pioneered deficit irrigation strategies for red wine grape varieties to control canopy growth and density and produce small berries with concentrated flavors, saving 30 percent in irrigation water use and pumping costs and improving wine quality.
  • Disease management: Through research, WSU developed a risk-assessment model for powdery mildew, which has helped growers eliminate one or more fungicide applications annually and reduce fungicide use by 40 percent. Each fungicide spray is estimated to cost growers an average of $45 per acre or $2.2 million for each application based on current state acreage of 50,000 acres. 
  • Cold hardiness: Growers use a cold hardiness model developed by WSU to help make freeze/frost protection decisions and match cultivars to sites, which saves fuel and energy costs from unnecessary wind machine use and helps growers make wise planting investments.