Promoting Industry Research
The Winemakers Research Exchange (WRE) is a research cooperative for any and all wineries interested in participating. The primary focus of the WRE is on enhancing wine quality and economic profitability through the evaluation of different vineyard and winemaking practices on the chemical and sensory characteristics of finished wine. The WRE helps wineries plan projects that are of interest to each individual winery to ensure acceptable levels of scientific rigor, consults with winemakers on how to successfully implement these projects, coordinates shipping of samples, organizes and funds laboratory analyses, sets up sensory sessions on experimental wines, and summarizes and presents results in a coherent, transparent, and public manner. These services are all provided to the winery free of charge. The WRE’s ability to provide strong results is improved by widespread winery participation, as well as by multiple wineries performing similar experiments to compare the effect of different treatments across wineries throughout similar regions.
The WRE began in 2014 and was made possible by a grant from the Monticello Wine Trail. In the first year there was a wide variety of projects from over 12 different wine makers. Projects were completed during the harvesting/processing season and their results presented at one of the four sensory sessions held throughout the following year. It was evident that the exchange was filling a long-awaited need. In 2015 the WRE received grants from both the Monticello Wine Trail and the Virginia Wine Board allowing the WRE to continue and improve. There were over 40 projects completed in 2015, and another four sensory sessions were scheduled to present these projects. In 2016 the WRE received a grant from the Virginia Wine Board, allowing it to extend its services throughout Virginia. There were over 65 projects performed by almost 30 wineries in this year, and 10 sensory sessions have been scheduled to allow winemakers from across the state an opportunity to taste experimental wines. The Virginia Wine Board is continuing to fund the WRE through the 2017 season.