About & Membership

The National Grape Research Alliance is an industry-driven nonprofit organization that works to align research priorities at the highest level to strengthen the competitiveness of America’s grape industry. As you can see from the list of our Board Directors, all segments and grape-growing regions of the U.S. are represented, collectively driving the future of the industry: wine, juice, table grapes and raisins.

Our Accomplishments

Since its inception in 2003, NGRA has been instrumental in securing some $65 million in funding for grape research, including for projects like Efficient Vineyard, delivering innovations in variable rate vineyard management, and VitisGen, identifying key loci for powdery mildew resistance and developing promising new resistant varieties of wine and table grapes with good fruit quality. That figure also represents the establishment of new federal research units (permanent funding), like the Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research Unit in Davis, CA, new facilities as for the National Grape Genetics and Genomics Center in Geneva, NY, and hiring new scientists in locations where they will serve critical needs of the grape and wine industry.

As the voice of the grape and wine industry to federal research agencies like the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), NGRA helps drive federal dollars toward priority science, whether through research programs of staff scientists or via grant funding programs like NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. NGRA also is viewed as an important partner in initiating and validating research projects among scientists supporting our needs. A letter of support from NGRA is considered a must-have as they apply for federal grants.

What does this look like ongoingly and in practice? Here’s a snapshot of some recent examples:

NGRA-Initiated Research

  • The Efficient Vineyard project successfully concluded in 2020, providing an achievable template for growers for variable rate vineyard management. The sensor that was developed by Carnegie Mellon University as part of the project has gone on to commercial deployment as the Flash sensor from Bloomfield Robotics.
  • VitisGen and its two successor projects have made great strides in marker assisted breeding for powdery mildew resistance, as well as technologies for high-throughput phenotyping for infection. The team has identified candidate genes for the trait and is now moving to confirm them, and is exploring the mechanisms for broad-spectrum disease resistance.
  • Our Integrated Production Systems Research Theme Committee’s project, “HiRes Vineyard Nutrition,” led by Markus Keller (Washington State University), received SCRI funding in September 2020, totaling $4.75M through 2024.
  • Our Extension and Outreach Theme Committee’s project, “Online Guide to Grapevine Varieties and Rootstocks,” co-led by Matt Fidelibus (UC Davis – Kearney Agricultural Center) and Glenn McGourty (University of California Cooperative Extension, emeritus) received grant funding in May 2021 from the American Vineyard Foundation. Upon completion, this online tool will be accessed via the NGRA website.

Educational Events

Support for–and from–Our Research Partners

  • NGRA President Donnell Brown served Relevance Review Panel Manager for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative in 2021 and 2022.
  • Donnell also was appointed to serve on the USDA’s National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board beginning in 2021. She also was elected to the Board’s Executive Committee and selected as an advisor to its Specialty Crop Committee.
  • Our Science Advisory Council was formalized in 2020 and is comprised of three emeritus members: Bruce Reisch (Cornell University), Sally Schneider (USDA-Agricultural Research Service, retired) and Judy St. John (USDA-Agricultural Research Service, retired).

Interested in supporting and/or being a part of our research mission? Find more info about membership here.