In response to cries by the wine industry for more accessible and approachable research, the Trellis Alliance, working with UC Davis, has begun providing summaries of the industry's most relevant and timely research efforts. The Trellis Alliance
, made up of UCD Department of Viticulture and Enology alumni and other industry professionals from the U.S. and abroad, began reviewing articles on specific topics in order to help its own membership better understand today's most important new ideas and technologies. The Trellis Alliance also makes the summaries available to all who are interested via their website (see link below).
"Our goal is to facilitate communication between UCD and the wine industry," said Kay Bogart, president of the Trellis Alliance. In deciding which research will be summarized, Bogart works side by side with Jim Wolpert, Cooperative Extension Viticulture Specialist for UCD's Department of Viticulture and Enology; and Bibiana Guerra, Ph.D., a UCD department graduate, who was recently hired to write the research summaries. In making their decisions, they consider the following (among other criteria): (1) is the information practical for growers and winemakers, (2) was it previously published out of the mainstream, resulting in poor access to the industry, and (3) are the findings or information relatively modern (2000-2006)?
Motivation for the project stemmed from the fact that research articles are generally difficult to locate, understand and apply toward daily practices. The value is there, but it is often an intimidating task to discern it.
"We said, let's locate articles for people, cut through the thick language, and give them just the information that is most relevant to their work, in an easy-to-read presentation," said Jim Wolpert. "The final summarized articles are about two pages long (reduced from 8-12 pages), so hopefully people will spend the time to read them."
"The problem with most publications is that they are written for peer review," said Bogart. "The research is often very long and technical and doesn't impact practical application in our industry. We have pulled the research from these publications and summarized it while retaining the original integrity and intention."
So far the Trellis Alliance has more than 22 summaries on its website (with a link to the original article source also listed), and one or two new summaries are uploaded each week. Articles are currently grouped into the following seven categories (the current number of summaries in each following): Canopy Management (8); Irrigation and Nutrition (8); Phenolics and Color (5); Roots and Soils (6); Vineyard Design (1); Wine Production (3); and Wine Sensory (2).
"Before I write," said Bibiana Guerra, "I try to research each paper, looking up technical words and contacting the author to ask about any doubts, to make sure I thoroughly grasp their message. Then, I try to tell the story as I would like it to be told to me." Guerra is well qualified, with an M.S. in Viticulture from UCD, an M.S. in Enology (earned in France), and a Ph.D. in molecular biology (earned in Spain). She has also held positions in vineyard management, winemaking and grower education.
Motivation for writing the summaries also stemmed from interests in maintaining AVF (American Vineyard Foundation) funding. "While the AVF believes that the research they have funded has been productive," said Wolpert, "they also look to see how the funding has impacted the work that people in the industry are doing; and it's often difficult to see the tangible results of this research. They see that certain things have been achieved, but also question the process of how research reaches the people who will benefit most by it."
Wolpert sees this more accessible research as one of the means toward a better educated and stronger wine industry. "What we really want in this business are the smartest people possible. The smarter they are the better decisions they will make," he said.
The Trellis Alliance welcomes input and suggestions for future summaries of research reviews, book chapters and original papers that could benefit a wider audience. For more information about Trellis Alliance and to access the research summaries, visit http://wineserver.ucdavis.edu/content.php?category=Trellis%20Alliance Note: Trellis Alliance's largest outreach effort is the annual symposia, "Recent Advances in Viticulture and Enology" (RAVE), which is held each spring at UC Davis (attendees are automatically awarded membership in the Trellis Alliance with their enrollment fee.) The 2007 RAVE will be held on March 22.