Winebusiness.com - Homepage for the Wine Industry

OSU receives $1.2 million to expand fermentation science program


Date: 08/09/13

CORVALLIS, Ore. - In the closing days of the 2013 legislative session, Oregon lawmakers approved $1.2 million for Oregon State University to enhance the Agricultural Experiment Station’s fermentation sciences program.

Demonstrating broad bipartisan support, the legislation was sponsored by 41 Oregon lawmakers.

“It’s significant that a strong coalition of industry members and key legislators supported this initiative, given the challenging funding environment,” said Jim Bernau, founder of the Willamette Valley Vineyards. “This research effort will create more Oregon jobs in these growing industries.”

The funding will support university research in all aspects of the production of high value wine, beer, cheese, breads and distilled spirits, all products of fermentation.

Fermentation adds value to many of Oregon’s crops, according to Bill Boggess, an economist and interim director of the Oregon Wine Research Institute. For example, he said, artisan cheese increases the value of a gallon of milk ten-fold; high quality wine increases the value of Pinot noir grapes up to eight times; and craft beer increases the value of hops and barley as much as 30 times. In addition, distillation adds significant value to fruits and grains.

Among other enhancements to the existing program, the legislative funding will help establish a new research distillery at OSU, adding another key feature to its fermentation program.

The program began in 1995 when the Oregon legislature voted to match a $500,000 gift from Jim Bernau to establish the nation’s first endowed professorship in fermentation science. It quickly grew into a full suite of programs in brewing science, enology and viticulture, dairy, and breads.

With the additional investment from the 2013 legislature, OSU will be the first university in the nation with a working research winery, brewery and distillery, keeping pace with Oregon’s rapidly diversifying fermentation industries, according to Bob McGorrin, Jacobs-Root Professor and head of OSU’s Food Science and Technology Department.

“Oregon’s distilled spirits industry is relatively young and rapidly growing,” McGorrin said, “similar to where the Oregon wine and microbrew industries were 25 years ago.

In fact, all Oregon’s fermentation industries are advancing rapidly, bringing with them an increased demand for quality local ingredients, such as fruits, grains and milk, according to Dan Arp, Reub Long Professor and dean of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“We need to advance our research in order to keep up with these industries and their needs for product innovation, food safety and sustainable production. It’s all part of assuring Oregon’s reputation for premium quality products,” Arp said.

Besides the establishment of a new distilling program, the legislative funding will expand OSU’s fermentation research in areas such as:

• new varieties of aroma hops and new methods for assessing beer bitterness;

• molecular and microbial factors that affect wine quality;

• cheese fermentation methods for greater consistency and food safety.

Funding will also support research into the sustainable production of high quality ingredients used in fermentation, with emphasis on:

• wine grape research and innovative vineyard management;

• barley, hop and wheat breeding, creating new varieties for new products;

• milk production research and teaching at the OSU Dairy herd and student experience producing Beaver Classic cheese;

• anticipating agricultural challenges from emerging pests, disease, and climatic conditions.

Oregon is home to more than 460 wineries, 850 vineyards, and 170 microbreweries. The annual economic impact of Oregon’s wine and beer industries is approximately $5.5 billion, according to the Oregon Wine Board and the Oregon Brewers’ Guild.

In parallel with the growth of industries, student enrollment in the fermentation sciences program at OSU has grown 500 percent in the last 10 years, according to McGorrin.

OSU’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs build on certificate and associate degree programs at Chemeketa and Umpqua community colleges, partners in providing a strong workforce for Oregon’s fermentation industries, McGorrin said.

Representatives from those industries, in particular Sam Tannahill of A to Z Wineworks and Ed King of King Estate Winery, were instrumental in supporting funding for fermentation sciences at OSU.

About the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences: The college contributes in many ways to the economic and environmental sustainability of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The college's faculty are leaders in agriculture and food systems, natural resources management, life sciences and rural economic development research.

Subscribe to Daily news Email

FREE Wine Business Daily News delivers the industry's top stories emailed to you from our editorial team.

most popular daily news links

latest used barrels

- used barrels  •  Nov 25, 2014 at 9:40AM PST
- used barrels  •  Nov 20, 2014 at 6:55PM PST
- used barrels  •  Nov 20, 2014 at 6:55PM PST
- used barrels  •  Nov 20, 2014 at 6:55PM PST
- used barrels  •  Nov 20, 2014 at 12:40PM PST

latest real estate

- real estate  •  yesterday at 7:53AM PST
- real estate  •  Nov 25, 2014 at 9:51AM PST
- real estate  •  Nov 24, 2014 at 8:44AM PST
- real estate  •  Nov 13, 2014 at 8:19AM PST
- real estate  •  Nov 10, 2014 at 2:38PM PST

latest used equipment

- used equipment  •  Nov 25, 2014 at 8:44AM PST
- used equipment  •  Nov 21, 2014 at 11:12AM PST
- used equipment  •  Nov 21, 2014 at 8:33AM PST
- used equipment  •  Nov 21, 2014 at 8:33AM PST
- used equipment  •  Nov 21, 2014 at 8:23AM PST

latest services & supplies

- services & supplies  •  Nov 19, 2014 at 9:09AM PST
- services & supplies  •  Nov 15, 2014 at 9:18AM PST
- services & supplies  •  Nov 14, 2014 at 12:25PM PST
- services & supplies  •  Nov 12, 2014 at 10:49AM PST
- services & supplies  •  Nov 10, 2014 at 12:32PM PST

industry events

Search Events:

Copyright© 1994-2014 by Wine Communications Group. All Rights Reserved. Copyright protection extends to all written material, graphics, backgrounds and layouts. None of this material may be reproduced for any reason without written permission of the Publisher. Wine Business Insider, Wine Business Monthly, Grower & Cellar News and Wine Market News are all trademarks of Wine Communications Group and will be protected to the fullest extent of the law.