Vol. 13, No. 1 January - February, 1998
Department of Food Science and Technology
VPI & SU
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0418, E-mail: email@example.com
I. ASEV-ES Annual Meeting and Sparkling Wine 1
II. ASEV-ES Membership Renewal/Application 1
III. SymposiumViticulture Information Resources on the Internet 2
IV. Major Features of Northwest Berry & Grape Infonet 3
The annual meeting of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Eastern Section is scheduled for July 22-24, 1998 at the Crowne Plaze Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. An international symposium on sparkling wines - Issues in Sparkling Wine Production, will be held in conjunction with the meeting. Further details to follow.
II. ASEV-ES Membership Renewal/Application
By supporting American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) Eastern Section with you membership you are not just promoting research on Eastern wine and grape issues, but supporting and awarding students studying in these fields. (Heather McMahon a student in the Enology-Grape Chemistry Group at VPI-SU is a current scholarship recipient.) ASEV/ES is a two-way bridge between academia and industry. Your support of that bridge contributes to the vitality of our thriving Eastern wine industry. In addition, membership in the Eastern Section provides you with the opportunity to attend the annual conference, which presents grape and wine issues from an Eastern perspective. Eastern Section Membership is only $15.00.
Attached is a Special Membership Renewal/Application Form for Eastern Section status only. If you have already sent in your dues for the 97-98 fiscal year (Nov. 1), thank you for your support. If you are interested in upgrading your membership beyond just the Eastern Section to a full membership in the national ASEV, applications are available upon request. Full membership in ASEV entitles you to receive the American Journal of Enology & Viticulture.
Chris Stamp, Chairman, ASEV/ES
III. Viticulture Information Resources on the Internet
The exponential growth of the Internet, fueled by the development of the World Wide Web, has put a wealth of information at your fingertips - if you are online. A 1997 survey by the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 13% of U.S. farmers have internet access. A question posed by many people when considering an Internet subscription is: does the Internet really offer anything that is unique, worthwhile, or of interest to me? For anyone involved in grape and wine production, the answer is yes!
There are two basic issues of concern: 1) how do you sort through an estimated 50 million documents and find the information you need, and 2) how do you know whether the information comes from a reliable source or just someone expressing their opinion.
The quickest way to find information on the Web is to use what is known as a "search engine." There are a dozen or more free search engines on the Web that enable you to search for topics by entering key words or phrases. For example, you could type in the keyword viticulture and after a short (usually) wait the search engine will return a list of Internet sites or documents that contain the word viticulture. Interestingly, the number of sites found by different search engines looking for viticulture can vary from 25 to 2,500. The searching mechanism differs with search engines, so varying results are returned. The general rule is to use several search engines when research a topic to better ensure you are finding most of the available sites. Even so, search engines are still hit-or-miss and you may not find the information you seek even though it does exist on the Internet. Repeating this search process for multiple topics requires a lot of online time, much of it wasted following false leads.
How Credible is the Information
The second issue, that of credibility of the information, is more difficult to address because of the nature of Internet publishing. Anyone can publish on the Internet, which is quickly obvious when you begin browsing the offerings. As with any information, you must consider the author's credentials, and possibly their alternative motives. One clue to the source of information is found in the URL (uniform resource locator) or address of a web site. The domain name (unique Internet name of an information provider) is the first part of an address, and for sites originating in the U.S., it always ends with a dot followed by a 3-letter extension. For example, the domain name of Southwest Missouri State University is http://www.smsu.edu; the .edu indicates an educational institution. Other common extension are .gov for government agencies, .org for organizations, and .com for commercial sites. Generally, you can consider educational and government sites to be highly reliable sources of information. Organizations (.org) often provide credible information, but generally the are promoting the causes of the group they represent, so again, consider the source of the information. There are many excellent commercial sites and it is usually obvious that they are selling or promoting a product.
Creating Order From Chaos
One of the drawbacks of the Internet is that there is very little organization to the massive amount of information that is available. Search engines help the Internet user find some pieces of the puzzle, but they are not capable of presenting the whole picture. One method of bringing order to the chaos of the internet is for an author to create a Web site that is focused on a specific topic and includes numerous links to other sites with pertinent information. This type of Web site is known as a collection, an index, or a clearinghouse if the linked sites are previewed for content. Oregon State University Extension has created such a site for the grape and berry industries of the Pacific Northwest. The NW Berry & Grape InfoNet http://osu.orst.edu/dept/ infonet went online in December, 1995 with the primary goal of providing a one-stop-shopping place for information relevant to berry and grape production. A secondary goal is to facilitate increased communications within and between industry and the university. Although it was created with the Northwest industry in mind, most of the Berry & Grape InfoNet's features are relevant for all viticulturists.
The opening page of the InfoNet presents a menu of fifteen possible selections. Within these selections you will find the full range of viticulture related information available on the internet, excluding commercial sites for wineries, equipment and service suppliers, etc. Commercial sites are generally excluded to preserve the educational focus of the InfoNet. A few commercial weather sites are utilized to provide the latest weather forecasts, radar, and satellite images. The content of the InfoNet consists of more than 12 megabytes of resident files and several hundred links to other Internet sites. Links have been carefully selected to include only reputable information providers.
IV. Major Features of the Northwest Berry & Grape Infonet
This popular category gives the user information on how to grow grapes and 8 other berry crops. There are also links to several related topics including sustainable agriculture, pollination and bees, pesticides, and university extension publications. Selecting "Grapes" sends us to a menu of fact sheets covering such topics as fertilization practices, rootstocks, sprayer calibration, and phylloxera. There are also links to other sources of grape growing information including the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, and the German DAINET. DAINET is a large collection of Internet information (much of it in German) on agriculture with a comprehensive section on grapes, including the International Vitis Database. This online database enables you to search for information about specific grape varieties, or to search for varieties with certain characteristics such as resistance to Powdery Mildew.
Another very popular category is Pest Management, in which the InfoNet provides specific local recommendations for disease, insect, and weed control. The disease and insect sections include descriptions of the pest or disease symptoms with photographs to aid in diagnosing the problem. Excellent collections of weed photographs are available from the Weed Science Society of America and several other Web sites, so links are provided to assist with weed identification.
This section also contains links to other Web sites with excellent information on grape pest management. Of particular interest to eastern viticulture is the Cornell University project to develop a regional viticulture "Expert system" on the Web called VITIS, which will include disease and insect control and vineyard management information. The Pest Management section also contains subcategories on Integrated Pest Management, Biological Control, Pesticides, and sustainable Agriculture. Each of the subcategories provides numerous links to the most pertinent sites on the Web.
The Research category is quite large, and includes many links to universities, research institutes and agencies, and experiment stations from around the world. Federally funded research programs can be reviewed by accessing the Current Research Information System from the USDA. It is a searchable database that finds relevant programs based on the keywords that you supply.
There are 21 links to research web sites outside of the U.S., at least 13 of which cover viticulture. Australia produces the CSIRO Grapevine server, a research site focused on accurate identification of grapevine cultivars. Charles Sturt University, also in Australia, is developing an online Viticultural Decision Support System. The German Agricultural Information Network has already been mentioned under Crop Recommendations, but it also contains considerable information on German viticultural research. Other valuable Web sites for viticultural research originate from France, New Zealand, South Africa, and Switzerland.
Several research journals are now available on the Web, including the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, Viticulture and Enology Briefs from the University of California, Journal of Small Fruit and Viticulture, and California Agriculture. Most research journals provide an index of recent articles and citation information, but some also publish an abstract of each paper.
Libraries and Resources
For those of you interested in search grape and wine related topics not found on the InfoNet, this category provides links to online libraries and other Internet resources. The library section contains links and instructions for accessing the collections of several prominent libraries with major agricultural holdings. You can access the national Agricultural Library, and the libraries of Oregon State University, Ohio State University, Cornell University, and the University of Illinois. Of special interest is the Viticulture and Enology Manuscript Collection from the library of the University of California, Davis. The library section also includes links to online periodicals, including the research journals previously described and trade magazines such as Vineyard & Winery Management magazine and Smart Wine Online.
The Internet Resources section provides links to the major agricultural directories, indexes, and collection on the Web.
Markets and Trade
The Markets section provides links to statistical reports on the U.S. grape acreage, grape and wine production, and prices. The national Agricultural Statistics Service compiles data from all states into national reports. Each state also has their own statistical service, which reports on local production and prices. A commercial company produces a Web site called US WineStatus that prepares extensive statistics on U.S. wine production and sales trends. Access to most of these data requires a subscription fee, but some data are available for public access.
The Trade section contains links to government agencies that report on international trade trends and statistics, and programs to assist exporters. The USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) produces a searchable database on U.S. Imports & Export Statistics for Bulk, Intermediate and Consumer Oriented Foods and Beverages (BICO) which includes wine. The FAS also prepares trade data and analysis reports. For exporter assistance, the FAS has a WEB site that describes their export programs, types of assistance that is available, and their foreign market research report. The USDA's Economic Research Service also provides several reports on U.S. agricultural trade and export. The Web site of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the united nationals offers a huge searchable database of statistics on international production and trade of agricultural commodities and products, including wine.
Government and Law and Organizations
As you would expect, nearly every government agency that you can think of has a Web site. This section contains links to state and federal government agencies that are of most immediate interest to the grape and wine industry. For example, the BATF Web site offers publications on compliance matters and information for applicants. You can also download most of the BATF forms concerning wine, although the forms must be submitted in hard-copy.
The Law section provides a link to WineLaw, the legal and compliance information division of Wine Institute, the trade association of California wineries.
This category provides links to grower organizations, commodity commissions, marketing associations, and professional societies. Among the viticultural listings in this group are the American Vintners Association, Women for WineSense, Wine Institute, Oregon Wine Advisory Board, and the American Society for Enology and Viticulture.
Communication Features of the Infonet
As I stated earlier, the second goal of the InfoNet is to facilitate increased communications. Two InfoNet features serve this goal specifically for the Pacific Northwest: Newsletters and E-Mail Directory. Newsletters offers a selection of "electronic newsletters" covering specific crops. A particular advantage of the electronic version is that time-sensitive information can be made available very quickly compared to the traditional mailed newsletter. The E-Mail Directory provides a list of E-Mail addresses for university personnel in the Pacific Northwest. Availability of this list has increased communications between growers and university faculty.
The Mailgroups feature has both regional and international impact on communications. Mailgroups, or Discussion Groups, are essentially E-Mail mailing lists of people with a common interest in discussing a specific topic. The InfoNet provides a popular regional mailgroup (NWGRAPE) for the grape and wine industry of the Northwest. There are also two international discussion groups that you should be aware of: the VITICULTURE mailgroup, and the ENOLOGY mailgroup. Each of these mailgroups now have more than 150 subscribers from at least 14 different countries. Subscribing, which is free, enables you to send and receive messages with the entire group. For instance, one subscriber recently sent a message saying that he was seeking information on Tempranillo clones. That message went out to everyone in the group, giving each an opportunity, if they chose, to respond to that request. Replies to the original message also went to every member of the group, so everyone learned more about Tempranillo from the discussion even if they chose not to participate. Focused mailgroups such as these are valuable tools for tapping into the collective wisdom of grape growers and wine makers around the world.
Certainly the ever-growing quantity, diversity, and usefulness of the information on the Internet is very impressive. Utilize this resource to improve your ability to prosper in a highly competitive marketplace.
The Department of Food Science and Technology has a web page which provides information regarding the department personnel and activities: http://www.fst.vt.edu