Looking for Love in 2021

January 2021

Many of us entered the new year with admittedly unrealistic expectations that 2021 would be better than 2020. Immediately! A month in, we’re still waiting for the new year to deliver us from the old year we’re ready to forget. Obviously, it’ll take time for things to unwind. In the meantime, we’ll keep our heads down and stay busy. Judging from our first Board meeting of the year, that won’t be hard.

Held via Zoom on January 25, NGRA’s combined Annual Meeting of the Members and First-of-Year Board Meeting heralded the start of many new projects and initiatives, and new opportunities for engagement for our members.

The top task of the Annual Meeting is the election of officers and Board directors. Accordingly, we are pleased to renew the terms of all four NGRA officers and five Board directors, and to install two new directors on our Board. Thank you and congrats to all, especially those who are new to our Board:

  • Steve Vasquez, Sun-Maid Growers of California – Raisin Commodity Sector Representative
  • Andrew Meggitt, Missouri Wine & Grape Board (St. James Winery) – Hybrid/Native Species Commodity Sector Representative

Also at the Annual Meeting, members are invited to join committees, where much of our progress is made. Our Development Committee, co-chaired by John Martini (Anthony Road Wine Company) and Jim Anderson (Missouri Wine & Grape Board), will work to better define membership levels and benefits, not only for industry representatives but for the affiliate members (service and equipment providers) we hope to welcome in 2021. And a Planning Committee will form to lay the groundwork for an all-Board, in-person strategic planning meeting in late 2021 or early 2022.

Our First-of-Year Board Meeting was no less momentous. Board members voted to support several new projects, all initiated by our Research Theme Committees and targeted to serve all sectors of our national grape industry. They span issues like in-field nutrition and fruit-quality assessment; broad-spectrum, durable disease resistance; and vineyard soil health monitoring and management. And they include building a national directory of grape-related Extension personnel and drafting a white paper on the state of viticulture and enology extension in America, seeking to understand the evolution of–and funding for–this critical function and local farm advisors as our industry changes. Plus, we heard more about the project–and Ph.D. student–we’re sponsoring for our first-ever FFAR Fellowship in 2021, which aims to bring AI to yield forecasting.

So, like I said: No problem staying busy in 2021!

Research is slow magic (a phrase I shamelessly steal from UC Davis economist Julian Alston), and so is the passage of time. Progress will come and some sense of normalcy will return–it all takes time. But in the meantime, maybe February will show us all some love!

Donnell Brown
NGRA President