NE1720: Multi-state Coordinated Evaluation of Winegrape Cultivars and Clones

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

NE1720: Multi-state Coordinated Evaluation of Winegrape Cultivars and Clones

Duration: 10/01/2017 to 09/30/2022

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification



Winegrape cultivar selection is among the most important components of vineyard and viticulture industry management. Prior to the turn of the 21st century, most U.S. states produced few to no winegrapes, primarily because of limitation in cold hardiness and disease resistance of the Vitis vinifera, the European winegrape species that comprises most commercial cultivars grown in the U.S. in traditional production regions. The introduction of new, interspecific hybrid cultivars has allowed for the development of grape industries in regions not previously considered possible. At the same time, continued evaluation of V. vinifera and hybrid cultivars and clones is critical to maintaining the winegrape industries in non-traditional regions. The major V. vinifera cultivars grown worldwide were selected over decades or even centuries for best suitability in European regions, and were then spread to California’s and other arid western U.S. states. As new winegrape industries emerge, continued growth, and the economic impact that comes with it, is dependent on improving quality and quantity of grapes and wine produced. Continued discovery, development, and evaluation of winegrape cultivars and clones is critical for maintaining growth within this emerging agricultural sector.


Needs Identified by Stakeholders


NE-1020 project members include research and extension faculty from institutions across the U.S. that regularly solicit stakeholder input for continued development of their programs. Consistent responses from stakeholders include support not only for continued cultivar development and evaluation, but also for developing best management practices to improve consistency, quantity, and quality of crops from evaluated winegrape cultivars and clones. There is also a need to evaluate new and emerging cultivars and clones across a wide range of environments. For example, in Colorado, intermittent extreme cold winter temperatures in the past ten years have repeatedly decimated V. vinifera cultivars, and caused industry to realize the need for more well adapted cultivars with better winter hardiness. In the most recent, industry-wide survey of research priorities in viticulture conducted by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board (which is part of the Colorado Department of Agriculture) done in 2014 the number two priority was “varietal selection", ranked after “responding to cold injury”. Those topics are not unrelated, as many Colorado vineyards have responded to recent losses from cold injury by increasing plantings of cold hardy hybrids identified in recent NE-1020 work. Of currently ongoing research projects "suitability of grape varieties for Colorado (cropping reliability, cold hardiness)" was ranked number 1. In a survey of Vermont growers, “weather-related damage” was rated as the greatest potential threat to their industry, followed by “canopy management”, “disease management”, and “availability of suitable cultivars” [1]. NE-1020 research in Vermont and surrounding states has addressed all of those topics, and cold-hardiness and disease management in particular have been addressed through evaluations of cultivar susceptibility to cold damage and disease [2-4].  Growers in NJ have cited ‘information on cultivar performance’ as their number one research need in a recent stakeholder survey.  For cold-climate regions, there is a need for cultivars that mitigate high acidity to produce different wine styles, since the Vitis riparia-based cultivars presently grown in the region have very high titratable acidity that requires significant winemaking effort to reduce [5-14]. In the Dakotas, realizing survival under extreme winter conditions and sustained productivity is an issue. Throughout the new production regions, resiliency to weather-related injury including mid-winter lows and spring and fall frosts is an issue [10, 15-20].


In 2015, the American Vineyard Foundation, a national grape and wine industry-funded research organization, conducted a survey of the most important research needs for grape and wine producers. Plant material selection including clonal and cultivar selection was ranked third, with 25.1% of respondents ranking it within their top two goals [21]. However, the two higher-rated research areas, “production efficiency & profitability” and “disease & insect control”, are included in NE-1020 objectives and its supporting projects’ evaluations of clones and cultivars and the best management practices for growing them.


Importance of the Work and Consequences If It Is Not Done 


Since the NE-1020 project started in 2004, grape production east of Pacific-coast states has continued its expansion beyond traditional eastern production areas (NY, PA, MI, and VA). For example in NY, wineries and grape production have expanded to 49 of the 52 counties in the state, and production has moved beyond the limited regions where V. vinifera and other interspecific hybrid cultivars have been grown for decades. There are now wineries in all 50 states. As of 2015, cold-hardy grapes have been planted on an estimated 7500 acres in 12 northern-tier midwestern and eastern states, a 28% increase from a 2011 survey [22] and a 100% increase from virtually no production in the region prior to 1995.  Emerging wine industries in northern tier states had an industry economic impact (for cold-hardy cultivars alone) of $539M in 2016, up from $401M in 2011 (34% increase over 4 years) [22]. Growers in these states look to viticulturists to provide data-based recommendations about suitability and potential profitability of these new cultivars.


Grapes have a high establishment cost of $20-30K/acre and delayed returns during a 3-4 year establishment period [23].  Profitability and sustainability depends upon reliable productivity and resilience to inevitable climate-related injury. A recent case study in Vermont indicated that, given optimum management and selection of a cultivar suited for the site, climate and market that would not require replanting, typical break even on net cash occurred in year 7 for a 15 acre vineyard, and year 17 for a smaller 5 acre vineyard, and positive net present value of the enterprise occurred after twenty years [24]. While this appears to put grape production in a particularly risky category, such time periods to attaining profitability are similar to apples [25], and considerations for both of those crops assume wholesale, commodity markets for fruit. However, winegrape production has the unique characteristic of substantially greater value for the finished product (wine), which increases overall value of the raw commodity within the industry. Despite that, vineyards must be profitable on their own before winemaking considerations are accounted for, and delays in production from poorly-performing cultivars, crop losses from cold or disease damage, or poor quality cultivars with low crop price will delay or even prevent net vineyard profitability. 


Cold winter temperatures; short, cool growing seasons; and humidity that is conducive to disease development limits the production of traditional V. vinifera cultivars in most emerging winegrape regions, and novel cultivars may be more suitable even in regions where  V. vinifera cultivars may thrive.  Cultivar selection is the primary method for reducing losses from cold injury in vineyards, and the relatively new development of cold-hardy winegrape cultivars suitable for the eastern U.S. and other emerging regions is only beginning to be optimized.  Members of the multi-state project routinely conduct cold hardiness, disease resistance and training studies providing the breeders feedback on advanced selections as well as moving our understanding of vine physiology (2-5,8,15,16,18).


Grape breeding programs in NY, MN and AR, have successfully evaluated and released new cultivars [10, 26-28].  Ongoing research on trait genetics is being adopted rapidly via marker-assisted selection to increase breeding precision in the New York and Minnesota breeding programs ( Reisch and Clark are actively adopting genetic marker technology to facilitate the development of disease-resistant, cold hardy cultivars with high quality wine potential. Information generated through NE-1020 trials will feed back into those breeding programs to either field-validate genetic bases for cold hardiness, disease rtesistancem, and other important traits. A new evaluation program in ND is screening germplasm for ultra-cold hardy traits that are adapted to ND’s short growing season and extreme cold winters [29]. Private breeders have also been important in developing emerging cold-climate grape cultivars which require evaluation across diverse regions and climates [30, 31]. In addition, novel V. vinifera and other hybrid cultivars from Europe and other areas are of interest to growers in regions where cold hardiness is less of an issue, but the number of available selections is daunting for individual vineyards to evaluate and could result in years of lost revenue unless public, long-term evaluation of cultivars and clones is conducted to reduce evaluation time prior to commercial planting.


Testing of new cultivars and clones is typically limited to a few areas. Coordinated, multi-state testing is needed to evaluate adaptation in a variety of environments. With changing climate and increased weather variability, cultivar adaptation, including physiological hardiness and robustness to changes in insect and disease pressure will be an increasing issue. This multi-state project will leverage substantial investments made in breeding programs, and help evaluate genotype x environment interactions.  Sustaining these efforts over several years is a requirement to fully evaluate winegrape cultivars and clones over the life cycle of a typical vineyard and across multiple years of weather occurrences. This is especially important for inland ‘continental climate’ regions, which are more subject to extreme swings in temperature than more maritime-influenced climates. Availability of grapes adapted to these continental climates has greatly increased interest in grape growing, as has the emergence of the farm winery segment in the East.  However, planting a poorly-adapted cultivar in the wrong place is a costly mistake. Vineyards can face expensive replanting and retraining costs after winter injury.  Even if a cultivar produces adequate yields, poorly adapted cultivars may ripen inconsistently, and produce inferior wines.


University and Agriculture Experiment Station (AES) researchers are uniquely and best suited to conduct this research. Among the participants in this project are numerous researchers with land, staff, equipment, and facilities capable of conducting comprehensive and objective field research.  The support of the AESs received by each cooperator does not represent simply a plot of land on which to plant their vineyard. The support systems and expertise of University and AES researchers include statistical support, computing hardware and software, basic and field laboratories stocked with modern equipment, field research stations with suitable land, equipment, and technical staff, and faculty colleagues who may provide ad hoc support and review of projects. Research and intellectual properties protections in-place within the University and AES systems ensures that all parties including breeders, nurseries, growers, wineries, and researchers themselves will be adequately protected, and ensure that research is conducted in a thorough and objective manner.


Technical Feasibility


The NE 1020 project has developed a network of sustained collaboration of viticulture and enology specialists across multiple states since 2005. Presently, participants from 15 states have active plantings, and partners from several other states who do not have formal NE-1020 plantings contribute expertise to the project (Table 1).  The existing team has the expertise to plan new plantings, apply appropriate viticultural practices, and collect data to evaluate new cultivars and clones.  Objectives from the initial phase of this project were intentionally limiting so as to develop a trial with maximum applicability across multiple regions and robust statistical design. However, the limitations built into the original methodology, including establishment of a single NE-1020 planting design implemented in 2008 on specific rootstocks, training systems, and management programs, was deemed too restrictive by several participants, who dropped out of the project as a result. As the project moves forward, NE-1020 researchers will adopt a more flexible model, allowing for more rapid evaluation and testing and continued planting of new cultivars and numbered selections and reducing limitations on individual collaborators to conduct cultivar evaluations that do not fit into a single national model.  Successful collaboration over past years provides the foundation for this new model and continued success. While the robust, multi-site evaluation of cultivars within specifically defined climatic regions has not been conducted to date due to unforeseen differences in data sets, loss of collaborators, and vine loss in certain regions due to weather or management-related events, several plantings have resulted in published cultivar comparisons that are establishing performance benchmarks in the literature [4, 11, 29, 32-38].


Advantages of a Multi-state Effort


Multi-state efforts capitalize on university faculty expertise for cultivar and breeding line evaluation where infrastructure exists for grape management. Evaluating cultivars in multiple growing environments in a coordinated and collaborative fashion makes data collection, analysis, and reporting more efficient and useful. Coordinated effort shortens the time to evaluate cold-hardiness and environmental adaptations by having many locations experiencing diverse weather events. In addition, as many of the states represented in the project have new wine and grape industries, likewise, many of the represented Universities have faculty new to viticulture. In several cases, faculty with small or tree fruit pomology experience have transitioned some or all of their attention to viticulture-related activities. In other states, agronomists have transitioned into the field. Additionally, new faculty have been recruited into novel programs with no history of a position in grape or wine production. The shared professional comradery among NE-1020 participants has allowed programs in each state to optimize their effectiveness by identifying gaps in knowledge, infrastructure, and experience, and has facilitated collaborations that address those shortcomings within a particular institution or program. The current project has allowed sharing of winemaking expertise for processing grapes from several plantings (e.g., multiple states have contributed grapes to Cornell and MN winemaking projects conducted through related, leveraged SCRI projects; several states have utilized differential thermal analysis chambers housed at other universities).  This leverages the winemaking and other expertise in states that do not have University winemaking or other specialized facilities.


Project participants cover diverse disciplines and areas of expertise (Table 1). Faculty associated with the project hold appointments across the land-grant spectrum including in teaching, research, and extension, and most faculty hold split appointments among those foci. Expertise includes viricultural management, which is the most common thread among participants, but also: plant pathology and entomology; Integrated Pest Management systems; Clean Plant certification; enology; plant breeding; genetics; plant physiology; biostatistics; and interdisciplinary plant science.


Collaboration among participants in the NE-1020 project has provided an opportunity and tools for securing funding for four Multi-state SCRI projects totaling over $19.9 million in funding: Northern Grapes: Integrating viticulture, winemaking, and marketing of new cold-hardy cultivars supporting new and growing rural wineries; and Improved grape and wine quality in a challenging environment: An Eastern US model for sustainability and economic vitality. Current participants in NE-1020 indicated a total of over $1.7 million in complementary funding from federal, state, and private sources, in addition to SCRI and Hatch funds available from participating AESs (Table 2).


Likely Impacts


Notable Impacts of the Current project:  


Among the primary impacts resulting from the first phase of this project have been an increase in grape production in non-traditional regions and a shift in cultivar selection to less risky cultivars in light of recent cold damage and other environmental threats. During the research period of the current project, severe cold events in the central and eastern U.S. including the ‘Polar Vortex’ winter of 2013-2014 and other unseasonably cold winters of 2008-2009 and 2014-2015, and early winter freezes in 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2013 tested both commonly-grown and newly adopted cultivars in many states. For example, in CO, IN, MI, NC, NJ, and OH growers are planting cultivars trialed in NE-1020 plantings, including V. vinifera and hybrid cultivars as a direct result of this research because those cultivars have shown good cold tolerance and potential for making high quality wine. In CO, where 15-20% of V. vinifera cultivars were removed after substantial winter-kill in the past three years, vineyards were replanted to cold-hardy cultivars tested in the NE-1020 project. In IN, ‘Chardonel’, ‘Cayuga White’, ‘Valvin Muscat’, ‘Noiret’, ‘Marquette’, ‘La Crescent’, have been planted in commercial vineyards and, just as important, several cultivars have been ruled out as unacceptable, thus saving growers substantial investment and lost productivity. In OH, ‘Regent’ and ‘Gamay noir’ have been selected as cultivars adapted to that state’s conditions. Through the Northern Grapes Project, information on performance and management of MN and other cold hardy cultivars from ND south to IA and east through MI and to VT was collated and presented to growers to evaluate adaptation of ‘Marquette’, ‘Frontenac’, ‘La Crescent’, and ‘St. Croix’ [39, 40].


In PA, NE-1020 is credited with: increasing collaborations between researchers and industry; facilitating research in improved winemaking practices; identifying and characterizing viticultural microclimates; and increasing undergraduate learning opportunities around viticulture and enology [41]. In CT, research in NE-1020 vineyards facilitated: increased yield for top wire cordon trained hybrid cultivars which prompted growers to consider changing their trellising system; identification of Virginia creeper and wild grapes as reservoirs for powdery mildew inoculum which inspired better vineyard sanitation by growers; and early scouting of disease onset was immediately passed on to growers alerting them to take appropriate action [42, 43]. Development and evaluation of regionally-adapted cultivars is critical to increasing growth within emerging winegrape industries. Between 2005 and 2014, winegrape acreage in non-traditional grape production regions increased by 47.5%, and the number of wineries by 81.2% (Table 3).


Expected Future Impacts:  

Under our new model, we expect to be able to screen and test more candidate cultivars over a shorter amount of time by conducting efficient evaluations, and by establishing continual plantings over the course of the project.  Continued release of new cultivars (e.g. Itasca, Verona, and Crimson Pearl released from cold-climate breeding programs in 2016 alone) and pre-release trialing of promising selections (e.g. the highly disease resistant red wine selection NY06.0514.06) requires continued, objective evaluation under the NE-1020 project. Successful testing and education will result in more informed growers who make better planting decisions, and suffer fewer losses from planting a poorly-adapted cultivar in the wrong site.  Multi-state, interdisciplinary evaluation will allow for assessment of other attributes (e.g. insect, fungal disease, phytotoxicity of agrichemicals, unique juice characteristics) to maximize potential productivity and quality of this new germplasm. Under this project, we expect that wine industries in our region will continue to grow, with an average increase in acreage and wine value of 25% during the project period.


Flexibility within future NE-1020 trial plantings will be the strength of the new, continued project. The specific requirements of the 2008 plantings, while well-intentioned, limited researchers’ efforts and resulted in a loss of participants in the early production years of trial vineyards. Some individual states’ industry support groups and AESs did not support restrictive and overly time-consuming evaluation standards that limited rapid evaluation of emerging cultivars. Also, riskier, less cold-hardy or more disease-prone cultivars which failed in experimental plantings left holes in vineyards and datasets which compromised overall project integrity. By establishing tiered evaluations of promising clones, cultivars and germplasm material in Objectives 1 and 2, we will allow for the rapid assessment of pre-release and emerging cultivars as well as more thorough evaluations of those deemed to have horticultural and commercial potential in U.S. vineyards and which require assessment in diverse climatic production regions.


Related, Current and Previous Work

Related, Current, and Previous Work:


The original experimental design for NE-1020 evaluation vineyards was based on a coordinated planting to be completed in 2008 in all states, with an exception for one vineyard that required installation in 2007 to comply with funding availability. In annual meetings of project cooperators from 2005-2007, specific objectives, experimental design, and data collection procedures were developed. Because collaborators had differing land, staffing, and facility resources, plantings were designed to be flexible in terms of the number of cultivars or clones evaluated, however, each planting had the following common characteristics: a common two ‘sentinel cultivars’ that would remain consistent in each planting in a similar climate zone; randomized complete block replication; six replicates of each cultivar; cordon and spur pruning; low-wire cordon (VSP) trained vines for vinifera, high-wire cordon training for hybrids; grafted to 101-14 rootstock for vinifera and tender hybrids unless local conditions prohibited, own-rooted for cold-hardy hybrids; required guard vines or rows; all vines planted within one year of one another (e.g. dead vines were allowed to be replanted in year two only); and consistent targets established for yield and vine growth. Vine orders were centrally coordinated and funded by grants from the (now defunct) CREES Viticulture Consortium or from individual investigator’s own research funds. In total, NE-1020 trial vineyards were established in 19 states in 2007 or 2008, however several cooperators left the project prior to completion and two established their plantings after 2008. Presently, twenty plantings in 13 states are actively used in the project (Table 4). Additional states joined the group but were not able to install ‘official’ NE-1020 vineyards because protocols for inter-state comparisons required all vineyards to be planted at the same time, and those states have maintained membership in a collaborative capacity.


Restrictive protocols for the original NE-1020 plantings, while designed to allow for robust comparisons between sites and cultivars, actually discouraged interstate comparisons because allowances were not made for vineyards that failed completely due to weather or other crop damage. In several states, severe winter cold decimated plantings early in the project; in others, herbicide drift or phytotoxic pest management sprays damaged plantings beyond their ability to provide consistent data. Retirements and other personnel changes among participants, and withdrawal from the program by some AES directors further reduced participation in the formal trials.


One end goal of NE-1020 is to improve economic development through development and improvement of a commodity crop, grapes, that has high inherent value when made into high-quality wine. However, winemaking itself is not explicitly outlined in the objectives of the project for several reasons. First, most collaborators do not have enology programs and laboratories within their institutions, and some have been actively discouraged from making wine in a research environment due to cost, security, or perceptional factors. Second, replicated, small-lot wine trials are particularly expensive to carry out, and the discussion of including them in the original proposal was had for the first several years of the project and even continues today. While including a specific, hypothesis-based winemaking objective in this proposal may negatively impact some AESs from supporting the project or could cause budgets to increase substantially, this project in its current and proposed formats is fully complementive of, supported by, and informed by, enology faculty within participating institutions [6, 13, 14, 39, 40].


However, collaborators within the NE-1020 project have consistently attended annual meetings where results from project plantings have been discussed. Separate from, but complementary to the initial NE-1020, trials have been substantial multi-state collaborations between NE-1020 members and other participants that would not have been possible without collaboration and networking derived through this project. Collaborative projects derived from NE-1020 participation and often including NE-1020 vineyards as primary data sources and educational sites include:


  • Improved grape and wine quality in a challenging environment: An Eastern US model for sustainability and economic vitality. USDA SCRI 2010-51181-21599. PD A. Wolf, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. $3,796,693. (see resulting publications & outputs, Appendix 1).
  • Northern Grapes: Integrating viticulture, winemaking, and marketing of new cold-hardy cultivars supporting new and growing rural wineries. USDA SCRI 2011-51181-30850. PD T. Martinson, Cornell Univ. $5,139,193. (see resulting publications & outputs, Appendix 1).
  • Midwest grape production guide. Dami, I., Bordelon, B., Ferree, D., Brown, M., Ellis, M., Williams, R., Doohan, D. The Midwest Grape Production Guide was compiled by Extension specialists at Ohio State University and Purdue University. Its comprehensive topics include: planning your vineyard; grapevine anatomy and propagation; integrated pest management; pruning, training, and canopy management; vineyard maintenance; and harvest and marketing.
  • Accelerating grape cultivar improvement via phenotyping centers and next generation markers. USDA NIFA SCRI 2011-51181-30635. PD B.I. Reisch $4.5 million, 2011-2016. <>
  • VitisGen2:  Application of next generation technologies to accelerate grapevine cultivar development. USDA NIFA SCRI (award pending). PD B.I. Reisch $6.5 million 2017-2021.


The outputs associated with the above projects, in addition to citations listed at the end of this report, highlight significant effort and progress toward addressing the goals of NE-1020. In fact, the total activity leveraged from the SCRI and similar projects has been as important to this project as the activities and outputs from the project itself- NE-1020 has been very successful in leveraging resources across disciplines and institutions to help support a fast growing, novel, and economically impactful industry across the bulk of the U.S. Continued effort under the NE-1020 project will build upon the successful collaborations fostered under the current project, and will address shortcomings discovered in the original protocols.  The focus of the project will continue to be on the evaluation of new or emerging grape germplasm with the intention of identifying superior cultivars that meet the needs of regional sites and production systems.


  1. 1. Screen the viticulture characteristics of clones, cultivars and elite germplasm with significant potential throughout the USA.
  2. 2. Evaluate the viticultural and wine attributes of promising emerging cultivars and genotypes based on regional needs.
  3. 3. Conduct explorations of new germplasm and lesser-known cultivars that may have economic potential for the US wine industry.


The objectives set up a testing procedure to de-risk cultivar choices for replicated plantings needed to gather production, yield, quality and oenology characteristics and provide reliable recommendations for growers and wineries.  Thus, the activities and expected results under each objective are staged so that information flown from one to the next, if appropriate, to reduce wasted time and improve efficiency in this long-term project. Objective 1 allows both independent and multistate coordinated plantings.  Currently states of similar climatic conditions are cooperating by using common selections for part of the trial vineyards with additional niche selections being tested independently.  Only selections with viticulture performance equal to or better than regional standards will be used in Objective 2.  Objective 3 maintains continual progression of new selections into the trial process. 


Objective 1

Trial vineyards will be designed for relatively rapid evaluation of novel cultivars or advanced selections.  Advanced selections identified under Objective 3 will be trialed in agreement with the breeders. Planting will include six or more cultivars and may not necessarily be replicated across multiple states. For each advanced selection evaluated, a minimum of three replicates will be included. Vines will be planted in either a completely randomized or randomized complete block design depending on space needs. Vine training and management will follow standard protocols for the region. Vines will be evaluated for a maximum of five years for metrics of: cold hardiness, annual vine growth, crop productivity, and juice quality. Optional data will include disease and insect pest incidence. All protocols will follow standard procedures [4, 35, 38]. Data may be analyzed descriptively for individual cultivars, additionally, comparative ANOVA may be performed when robustness of datasets justifies but that is not the intention of this objective. Results will be reported annually to NE-1020 members to guide future replicated trials.


Objective 2

Replicated cultivar evaluation vineyards using promising materials identified in objective 1 or from researchers’ current trial plots will be established according to present NE-1020 protocols [4, 35, 38], with minor changes to allow for flexibility among individual cooperators. Promising materials must have cold hardiness, disease resistance, productivity and quality greater than or equal to the sentinel cultivars used in the previous NE-1020 plantings.  This will ensure progress towards sustainable cultivars and aid in de-risking cultivar selection for growers.  Expected plantings will be proposed at least one year in advance at NE-1020 meetings in order to allow additional cooperators to establish and conduct replicated trials at multiple sites. Specific rootstock, training, and management guidelines will follow local recommendations for a particular site but will be held constant within a planting. Plantings may occur in any year, but must be evaluated over a minimum of five and a maximum of ten years. Data will be subjected to ANOVA analysis with appropriate corrections made for multiple comparisons and/or imbalances in data (e.g., if vines die and generate missing data). Results will be reported annually to NE-1020 members and published in peer-reviewed journals at completion.


Objective 3

All NE-1020 participants can recommend ‘new’ cultivars and clones as part of this germplasm discovery objective. Grapevine germplasm evaluation will include advanced selections from breeding programs, newly identified clones, newly introduced (imported) cultivars, or underexplored/planted cultivars. Public breeding programs at MN, ND, AR, and NY, as well as private breeders (e.g. T. Plocher, E. Swanson) will be invited to participate in Objectives 1 and 2.  The breeders will establish material transfer agreements with each planting site and coordinate the propagation and planting of advanced breeding selections.  NE-1020 project participants will make recommendations to respective agencies to acquire and import germplasm for evaluation as needed. The results of Objectives 1 and 2 will be used by the breeders in making decisions for cultivar release. 



Measurement of Progress and Results


  • At least six refereed articles will be published based on NE-1020 coordinated regional research trials.
  • Four new winegrape cultivars will be introduced from U.S. breeding programs under the guidance of NE-1020.
  • NE-1020 research results will be communicated in 10 papers at scientific conferences and in 25 presentations to grower audiences.
  • A central website,, will be developed in year 1 to act as a clearinghouse and index for published information stemming from NE-1020 activity.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • Under our new model, we expect to be able to screen and test more candidate cultivars over a shorter amount of time by doing efficient evaluations, and continual plantings. Continued development of new cultivars (Itasca, Verona, and Crimson Pearl in 2016) requires continuation of NE1020 project. Successful testing and education will result in more informed growers, who make better planting decisions, and suffer fewer losses from planting a poorly-adapted cultivar in the wrong place. Multistate testing will allow for evaluation of other attributes (e.g. insect, fungal disease, phytotoxicity of agrichemicals; training systems) to maximize potential productivity and quality of this new germplasm. Successful vineyards lead to successful wineries and agritourism that stimulates local economies.
  • NE-1020 recommendations and educational programs will guide the planting or replanting of 1000+ acres of winegrapes in the next 5 years in participants’ states.
  • Winegrape growers in emerging regions will see increased net income per acre, and more consistent income and yield as a result of adopting regionally-adapted cultivars.
  • Wineries that utilize fruit evaluated through NE-1020 projects will see increased profitability based on improved wine quality and reduced grape market volatility.
  • By providing a means to field-test advanced grape selections developed using genomic and phenomic tools, NE-1020 will help to reduce the time from initial cross to released cultivars by five years.
  • • Cumulative state and federal investment in the research programs of NE-1020 collaborators will total $5 million during the life of this renewal


(2017):Objective 1 milestone. At NE-1020 annual meetings, a session will be reserved for discussion of promising cultivars or selections from breeding or other programs that may be of interest to PIs. Interested PIs from similar regions will be invited to include selection in their home evaluation vineyards.

(2018):Objective 1 milestone. Five cooperating sites will establish screening sites for new or promising cultivars or selections. Inclusion of new selections will occur on a rolling basis. Protocols for screening will be finalized by NE-1020 cooperators.

(2019):Objective 1 milestone. Cultivars will continue to be planted (or removed, if appropriate) in screening vineyards. Fruit evaluation will begin in year three after planting, and final screening occur in year five. Data and results from screened cultivars will be published to NE-1020 website immediately following year 5.

(2018):Objective 2 milestone. Review status or original 2007-2008 plantings at annual NE-1020 meeting. Identify pitfalls, problems with methodology. Update methods for future/continued projects. Solicit initial plans for replicated plantings from stakeholders. Prepare plantings for spring 2019 establishment.

(2019):Objective 2 milestone. Establish plantings on a rolling basis in accordance with a specific guidelines for each if replicated across sites. Cultivars may continue to be planted in year 2. Growth and bud hardiness data collected beginning year 2. Fruit evaluation will begin in year three after planting. Wine production and evaluation, if available, will begin year 4. Data and results from evaluated cultivars will be published to NE-1020 website and appropriate journals immediately following year 5 with final report publication in year 7-10.

(2017):Objective 3 milestone. At annual NE-1020 collaborators’ meeting, identify germplasm discovery participants including breeders, germplasm repositories, and collectors. A subcommittee will determine the number of lines to evaluate. Material transfer agreements will be drafted.

(2018):Objective 3 milestone. Propagate and receive cuttings for plantings at collaborator sites.

(2019):Objective 3 milestone. Establishment and preliminary disease resistance data will be collected. Replant as necessary. Continued replacement/replanting of new selections ongoing.

(2020):Objective 3 milestone. Initiate fruit evaluation. Replant as necessary. Continued replacement/replanting of new selections ongoing. Publish data in NE-1020 data repository and present to participants. Offer advanced selection to screening or, if appropriate, evaluation trials.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Outreach under the present NE-01020 project has been conducted through existing websites, newsletters, blogs, and listservs of individual project affiliates. Project outputs will continue to be distributed through those channels. A record of previous outputs is included in Appendix 1. In addition, a central website,, will be developed under the renewal of this project to collate and summarize outputs from individual participants.  


The NE-1020 project will be governed by a rotating executive committee voted annually at the project meeting by meeting attendees. Although all offices will be elected in each year, it is expected that an officeholder will begin in the Secretary position and rotate through to the chair position. Offices thus include: Secretary, Vice-Chair, and Chair (host). Thus, the Secretary is expected to host the meeting two years following, and the vice-chair the following year. After an annual meeting, the secretary shall submit meeting minutes to the meeting chair within 30 days, and the chair will submit the annual report within 60 days of the annual meeting. Reports will be submitted to the NERA Administrative Advisor who will submit reports to NIMMS. Following the annual meeting, the vice-chair (now chair of the following year’s meeting) will begin preparation for the following meeting and will assist the secretary and chair in compiling the annual report if needed.

Literature Cited

  1. Bradshaw, T.L., A. Hazelrigg, and L.P. Berkett, Characteristics of the cold-climate winegrape industry in Vermont, U.S.A. Acta Hort, 2016. Accepted Nov 2016.
  2. Berkett, L.P., et al. 2008 Grape Bud Survival on Eight Winegrape Cultivars in Vermont. in Proceedings of the 2nd Annual National Viticulture Research Conference• July. 2008.
  3. Berkett, L.P., et al. Disease evaluation of selected cold climate wine grape cultivars in Vermont, USA. in IOBC-WPRS Working Group Meeting on "Integrated Protection and Production in Viticulture.". 2013. Ascona, Switzerland: IOBC/WPRS Bulletin 24(5):393-400.
  4. Berkett, L., et al., Disease evaluation of selected cold climate wine grape cultivars in Vermont, USA. IOBC-WPRS Bulletin, 2014. 105: p. 29-33.
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