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Missouri Wine Industry Helps Georgia's Make a Comeback

May 01, 2014


[JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.] The Missouri Wine and Grape Board and the University of Missouri's Grape and Wine Institute are partnering with the University of Georgia and the Vineyard and Winery Association of West Georgia to help rebuild the Georgia's once prevalent grape and wine industry. Missouri has a rich history of wine-making that was halted by prohibition; Georgia's story is much the same with the exception that prohibition started 13 years earlier and lasted two years longer in Georgia than in most of the rest of the country. Missouri is now assisting in the rebuilding of Georgia's wine industry by sending Norton grape vines to be planted.

"We're looking to bring that economic engine back," said Doug Mabry, executive director of the VWAWG. "I use Missouri as an example of how we should be doing things."

"Our industry has seen consistent growth, and we're happy to help the Georgia wine and grape industry move forward by sharing some of the lessons we've learned," said Jim Anderson, executive director of the MWGB.

On behalf of the MWGB, GWI is sending 20 dormant Norton vines to the University of Georgia to help them establish a trial program in conjunction with VWAWG. Due to the prevalence of Pierce's disease, which can be fatal to certain varietals, they are working primarily with hybrids and Native American grape varietals.

"This is how things get started," said Misha Kwasniewski, Ph.D., assistant research professor and enology program leader for GWI. "We're here and interested in helping in any way we can, and they're looking for disease resistant vines that are also adapted to the heat; that's Norton."

Norton is a Native American grape varietal that is well adapted to the demanding weather conditions of the Midwest. Norton was named the Mo. state grape in 2003 and is the most prevalent in vineyards, accounting for 19 percent of the grapes grown in the state.

The rebirth of the Missouri wine industry began in the 1960s and continues its growth, now with more than 125 wineries and 1,700 bearing acres of grapes. GWI conducts research on best wine-making and grape growing practices and how they impact the growth of the wine industry in Missouri and the Midwest.

The MWGB was established in 1984 to support the research, development and promotion of Missouri grapes, wines and juices. For more information about the Missouri Wine and Grape Board's history and initiatives, visit

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