About & Membership

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 are represented, collectively driving the future of the industry: wine, juice, table grapes and raisins.

A Video Overview

Curious about how NGRA delivers on its research mission? Watch this five-minute overview!

Our Accomplishments

Since its inception in 2003, NGRA has been instrumental in securing some $50 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 our work from 2020 to present:

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.
  • 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.

Based on our biannual brainstorming and prioritization process, conducted in 2020, our four Research Theme Committees surfaced new priority research, all targeted to serve all sectors of our national grape industry. In 2021, these new projects will undergo refinement, planning and the application process for grant funding (if/as needed):

  • Genetics and Grapevine Improvement – “Broad-Spectrum Disease Immune Response in Grapevine,” Lance Cadle-Davidson (USDA-ARS) and Dario Cantu (UC Davis)
  • Integrated Production Systems – “In Pursuit of a Fruit-Quality Sensor,” Leonard Felix (CID-BioScience) and Terry Bates (Cornell)
  • Integrated Production Systems – “Applying Spectroscopy to Field-Level Assessment and Mapping of Fruit Quality Parameters,” Luca Brillante (Fresno State University)
  • Extension and Outreach – “The State of Viticulture & Enology Extension in America (white paper) and creation of a national directory for Extension personnel” to be hosted on the NGRA website, Stephanie Bolton (Lodi Winegrape Commission), Michelle Moyer (Washington State University) and Hans Walter-Peterson (Cornell)

Educational Events

Grant Funding: Projects and Sources

  • We maintain a database of funding for grape-related research projects throughout the U.S., in 2020 and going forward. Funding sources tracked include state and federal grant programs, as well as funding coded to grapes at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service—the latter totaling $19,850,600.
  • We also monitor states’ application deadlines for the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG).
  • NGRA provided nine letters of support for grant applications in 2020.

Industry Support

  • President, Donnell Brown, was appointed Relevance Review Panel Manager for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative for 2021.
  • Donnell Brown was selected to serve on the USDA’s National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board beginning in 2021.


  • From 2020 through early 2021, NGRA welcomed the following new members: The Vineyard Team, Arizona Wine Growers Association and our first independent industry representative Russell Smithyman.
  • Our Science Advisory Council was formalized in 2020 and is comprised of three emeritus members: Deborah Golino (Foundation Plant Services), 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.