OWRI 2014 Year in Review


The OWRI presents our Year in Review video. It features a vine to wine picture compilation of research activities, outreach, and other happenings from our OWRI team members throughout 2014.

Please view it here.

Wishing you a safe and happy New Year!


Danielle Gabriel
Communications and Outreach Manager
Oregon Wine Research Institute

Seven Questions with James Osborne

Each month the OWRI will highlight a different researcher from our program and discuss current/future research goals, hobbies, and other interesting information. This month, our featured faculty member is  James Osborne.
1. What is your position at OSU/OWRI?

I am an Associate Professor and Enology Extension Specialist in the Food Science and Technology Department and a core member of the OWRI. I started in this position in September 2006 after working in my home country New Zealand at the University of Auckland and Delegat’s Winery. My job responsibilities are split between research, extension, and teaching (30:40:30%) with my research program focusing on understanding the impact of wine microorganisms on various aspects of wine quality.

2. What do you enjoy most about your work?

What I enjoy most is the diversity of tasks my job offers. Firstly, I get to teach students in our undergraduate and graduate program. This is a challenging but rewarding experience especially as our graduates start making an impact in wine industries all around the world. I am also able to work closely with the Oregon wine industry through both research and extension activities. Addressing industry needs through applied research is intellectually challenging and satisfying especially knowing that you are working on research questions that can impact the continued improvement and competitiveness of Oregon wines.

3. When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

When I’m not working I enjoy time at home with my family. I have an 8yr old son and a 5yr old daughter who keep me very busy as well as baffled by their endless energy. Aside from this I do enjoy playing an occasional game of golf or tennis when time and weather allows. My rugby playing days are well behind me and so I make do with watching rugby on TV/internet when I can as well as an occasional football (American) game.

4. What inspired you to choose your career path?

I arrived at this career path in a rather indirect manner. I grew up in NZ on a dairy farm and through school had an interest in science, particularly biology. At University I studied microbiology and it was through this discipline that I first became interested in wine. My MS research work focused on the malolactic fermentation and after that I was hooked. I enjoy studying microbial interactions in a medium as diverse and challenging as wine especially given how little we really understand about what’s going on.
5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

That’s a tough question as no one piece of advice really stands out to me over others. However, I would say trying to maintain balance and perspective in life is probably one piece of advice that has been the most helpful and challenging to me on a daily basis. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the minor details sometimes and taking a moment to place things in perspective can make all the difference.
6. Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

Sir Edmund Hillary: A New Zealand legend. A great and humble man who is a true hero to New Zealanders

Stephen Colbert: Hilarious, sharp, and thoughtful. In or out of character he would make for a great dinner guest

Charles Barkley: Would provide us with some great conversation starters and has an opinion on just about everything

7. What is your vision for the future of your research?

I have always been interested in better understanding how microbial interactions during winemaking can be utilized to either encourage growth of certain microorganisms or inhibit growth of others. This covers everything from the microbial load that comes in on the grapes to interactions between spoilage bacteria and yeast during wine aging. I believe that a better understanding of these relationships will help in the management of microbial communities throughout the winemaking process.

Willamette Valley Viticulture Scholarship (WVVS)

One of the veterans in the Oregon wine industry is Buddy Beck, who got his start in the wine industry over 25 years ago.  After graduating from Oregon State University he was given an opportunity to work with Allen Holstein at Argyle Winery where he managed vineyards for ten years.  Today Buddy is the owner of Advanced Vineyard Systems, Inc. managing 20 vineyards and working with 50 wine makers around the Willamette Valley.

Buddy learned about the Willamette Valley Viticulture Scholarship (WVVS) and the matching donation the Erath Family Foundation would make supporting viticulture industry employees. He was immediately interested and on board.  Buddy made the first donation to support his employee and Chemeketa viticulture student, Carlos Martinez-Feleyson in the WVVS. Buddy said, “I instantly thought of Carlos. He’d already decided to attend the viticulture program and I knew it was a question of financing.”

Carlos said, “I didn’t decide to get a degree in viticulture from the very beginning. My dad had worked in the vineyard industry since 2000, but he recommended that I look for a career somewhere else. My primary interest was with computers, so I took electives in computer programming in high school. I was looking to a career as a software engineer. However, Buddy asked me if I wanted a job when I had turned 16 and I accepted. At first I did it for the money but then I started to get interested in the process that grapevines go through during the seasons. So I had the practice but I needed the theory. “

Carlos’ father and Buddy have been his inspiration for going into the viticulture degree program.

Carlos adds, “Buddy was the first person to offer me a job and the opportunity to achieve something with my life. He also put faith in my ability to learn, and has been willing to sponsor my education.  I have been given the opportunity to further my education in viticulture, and I hope others have the chance that I’ve been given. “

Buddy adds, “This is a wonderful opportunity for Carlos and I appreciate Dick Erath and his family for developing this scholarship. It will help others get into the industry that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. “