Viticulture Assistant Professor Opening – Oregon State University

Oregon State University, in conjunction with the Oregon Wine Research Institute is currently recruiting for an assistant professor position in viticulture research and Extension. This position will be be located at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center branch research station in Central Point, Oregon. With the rapidly developing industry southern Oregon, there is a significant need for research and Extension. This position is also a vital part of the Oregon Wine Research Institute team, ensuring that we are offering the best in applied viticulture and outreach to the premium winegrape industry in the state of Oregon.

Details of the position are provided here, or the Oregon State University Employment website Please share with those you think may be well suited to this type of position in applied research and Extension. For full consideration, the application deadline is June 20.



Seven Questions with Walt Mahaffee

  1. What is your position at the USDA/OWRI?

I am a Research Plant Pathologist with the Horticulture Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, courtesy faculty in Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University, and a Core member of the Oregon Wine Research Institute

  1. What do you enjoy most about your work?

Solving problems and the accidental discoveries that occur when talking with growers.

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

Not sure that I don’t always work – at least mentally. I am always thinking/dreaming about our research.  Outside of the lab, I am a fairly active soccer referee with AYSO, USSF, and High School and involved in mentoring and training of new referees particularly youth.  This requires that I jog a fair bit so that I can keep up with players. I am also a lead mentor for Crescent Valley FRC Robotics team, soccer coach, and on the board of a foundation. At home, I am into woodworking, home renovation and gardening. I also write some poetry – of sorts.  My family (Caroline [wife], Hunter [son] and Adelaide [daughter]) and I try to spend as much time as possible in the snow going as fast as we can.  We are also into biking and backpacking when the other activities allow.

  1. What inspired you to choose your career path?

I do not remember it being conscious choice.  I stumbled into it.  I started college in pre-vet but found that the rote memorization still required in the classes was not for me.  College, like high school, was a chore until something clicked when I took my first microbiology class.  I was hooked on trying to understand how something so tiny could alter civilizations and even planets.  I could have studied anything related to microbes but accidently met my Master’s major professor while playing Pictionary with his 6 year old daughter – long story.  During my MS degree, I worked on project that resulted in two commercial biological control agents for seedling diseases of cotton and peanuts.  The realization that I could use my passion for microbiology to benefit agriculture sealed the deal.  I also learned during this time that the corporate world was not for me.  I hate dressing up; so much so that I have turned down significant pay increases over the years purely because of the dress code.

  1. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

There are two things that come to mind.  One I am not sure you would call it advice.  My grandfather would always ask me a question whenever he heard me say “I can’t”.  “How do you know?” or “Can’t you think of something else.”  He taught me to aim high, dream bigger and accept no limits.  It also taught me to always challenge authority.  Something my children seemed to have learned.  My other grandfather used to tell me “whenever you meet someone, give them a firm hand shake, look them straight in the eye and remember you are no better them and they are no better than you”  From this, I have learned that everyone can teach me something and I am better off if I learn it.

  1. Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

Steven Hawking, Roger Waters, Elon Musk and the subject of conversation would be whether time exists.

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

I do not really have “a vision”.  I see the world in probabilities with numerous potential outcomes.  So I am constantly chasing multiple visions.  Currently, I consider the most probable outcome of my group’s and our collaborators research (hopefully before I die) is the development of a risk management system that encompasses autonomous robots and simulation environments to bring unprecedented fine scale resolution to risk management in agriculture, not just wine grapes.  To do this we must work with computer scientists, engineers, physicists, sociologist, economists, and many others and quit thinking about why it can’t be done and start thinking about what will it take to do it.  After all, this is how the Oregon wine industry got its start.

Seven Questions with Paul Schreiner

  1. What is your position at the USDA/OWRI?

I am a research plant physiologist at USDA-ARS and a core member of the Oregon Wine Research Institute. My expertise lies in plant eco-physiology, plant nutrition, and symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF).

  1. What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy three aspects in particular: the freedom and challenge of solving mysteries relevant to real-world vineyards via the scientific process; my attempts to accurately interpret results and to convey findings in a clear and compelling manner; and working together with colleagues, students, and industry professionals.

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

I like to hike, mountain bike, and explore the natural world. I also enjoy yoga. I can no longer run to get my physical fix, so I’m trying to find a new activity that is as convenient and expedient as running was without further damaging my feet. Now that our boys are on their own (mostly) and I am no longer coaching/refereeing/supporting their activities, Lori and I also hope to travel more.

  1. What inspired you to choose your career path?

As a boy, I was always interested in how things work. After I got out of engineering in college and started taking organic chemistry, I became fascinated with biochemistry and obtained my B.S. I worked as a technician for a couple of years after that and learned that if I wanted to have a choice in what I did as a scientist that I would need to get my doctorate. Becoming a plant physiologist at ARS was a subsequent combination of work, luck, and opportunity.

  1. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Three things here. Be critical of your own work, and try to think of every other possible explanation for results so you can rule them out. And when required to get a job done, forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission. Finally, keep it simple; yes life is complex, but often the most elegant solutions are straightforward.

  1. Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Jimmy Page.

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

My vision is to better understand how various mineral nutrients affect both vine productivity and berry chemistry attributes to provide evidence-based guidelines for better management. At the same time I am interested in how AMF interact with grapevine roots, soils, and other soil organisms and influence vine metabolism. The ultimate goal for my research is to join these research areas into an overall conceptual framework that allows viticulturists to maximize quality and long-term vine health while causing the least harm to the environment.

2015 Grape Day

The 2015 Grape Day program has been formalized and registration is now available. This event, designed to allow industry members the opportunity to hear about our latest research and meet with faculty members, is a cornerstone of OWRI programming and events. For over ten years, OSU viticulture and enology researchers have been communication research to industry in this format, and each year our programming offers something new and engaging. Please view our 2015 program here. As you can see, we have a captivating and relevant lineup of speakers again this year. We hope to see you on campus on March 31!


Danielle Gabriel
Communications and Outreach Manager

Grapevine Red Blotch Disease in Oregon: An Update

Grapevine red blotch associated virus (GRBaV) is a concern to grape growers throughout the state.  The virus has been present in vines for many years- however, it was formally identified and a diagnostic assay developed in 2012.  In late 2014, a group of growers, nursery operators, OWRI faculty, and ODA plant health scientists convened to share information, provide an overview of the grapevine virus situation in Oregon vineyards, and strategize future steps.  Dr. Bob Martin, USDA-ARS plant pathologist, described his GRBaV survey results- GRBaV has been detected in the Willamette Valley, but is more widespread in vineyards in southern Oregon and recent sampling indicates that the virus moves very slowly from vine to vine, if at all.  For example, of 100 vines tested in a Willamette Valley vineyard planted in the 1970’s, only one positive plant was identified in a block of Chardonnay adjacent to a small block of Pinot noir that was completely infected. Similarly, 30 samples each of Grüner veltliner and Pinot gris adjacent to an eight year old severely infected Syrah block were all negative. If funding is secured, Dr. Martin will continue to investigate the spread of red blotch and its effects on wine quality.  Dr. Vaughn Walton, OSU entomologist, reported that vector identification studies are on-going in California, but very little is known about red blotch vectors or transmission.  The focus of his research is to monitor location and spread of the disease.  Studies are also being conducted in southern Oregon to assess the spread of the disease in that environment.

For more information regarding the research in southern Oregon, please click here to read a research report from Dr. Vinay Pagay and Dr. Bob Martin.

One question that may ease growers’ minds is that nurseries are now testing for red blotch.  One nursery owner said that 3,000 tested vines in WV yielded no positive results but southern Oregon had positives in the cultivars Tempranillo, Mourvedre and Merlot.  It is possible that red blotch has spread through planting stocks, either nursery materials or from top-working plants with wood from field sources. Education on how to stop the spread of the disease will be a key component of red blotch outreach efforts.

The movement of vines and the ODA plant quarantine system, which states that it is illegal to move known infected plant materials into or within the state is an important component in stopping the spread of infected vines.  95% of Oregon grapevine nursery stock comes from California, therefore potentially infected plants may have arrived prior to the testing for GRBaV.  Nursery managers from Sunridge and Duarte noted that the new Grapevine Foundation Block at Russell Ranch (where all material has been tested using the 2010 protocol for grapevine disease testing) will become the primary source of wood for certified nurseries. All material at the Russell Ranch tested negative for GRBaV in 2013.  This part of the discussion generated two practical recommendations to grape growers:

  • Plant only certified grapevine materials. Vines from Russell Ranch and Clean Plant Center Northwest (Washington State University-Prosser, WA) are certified free of GRBaV, Grapevine leafroll associated viruses and viruses causing trunk diseases.
  • Unless individual vines are tested for known viruses, do NOT propagate from any vines in your vineyard. The risk of spread of viruses, even from asymptomatic vines, is too great.

Geoff Hall, viticulturist from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates stated that WSU faculty and industry associations consistently reinforce the need to exercise caution and utilize proper practices when managing the spread of viruses in vineyards, which applies to Oregon growers as well.

Outcomes from this important meeting include:

  • A letter has been drafted to Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba requesting that grapevine red blotch associated viruses be added to Oregon’s plant quarantine list
  • ODA plant pathologists together with the Oregon Wine Board will apply for an ODA specialty crop block grant to do a survey of red blotch in Oregon vineyards
  • OSU will continue to provide extension resources on grapevine viruses
  • This group will serve as a vine improvement committee for the Oregon wine industry
  • There is a need to enhance grower outreach and education on grapevine viruses
  • Identify resources to increase virus testing capacity in Oregon

This group has agreed to meet again in December 2015.

Reference resources:

  1. ODA’s grapevine quarantine regulations can be found at
  2. National Clean Plant Network Red Blotch Fact Sheet:

Seven Questions with Elizabeth Tomasino

1. What is your position at OSU/OWRI?
I am an assistant professor of enology at OSU in the department of food science & Technology. Specifically I deal with wine sensory and chemistry and teach an undergraduate and graduate level enology course at OSU.

2. What do you enjoy most about your work?
I most enjoy the interaction with students and industry in conducting my research. Over the course of a month I will be training students, running sensory panels with consumers and winemakers all over the state and teach. It keeps me on my toes and is always different, which means it is always very exciting and interesting.

3. When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?
I have a range of interests that keep me occupied outside of work. I sing in the Corvallis Repertory Singers, attempt to attend several music and opera concerts each term, try to get in a decent amount of exercise each week, catch up on reading, cook and exploring the Pacific NW. There are still so many interesting places to go that I haven’t seen yet and just not enough time. Then of course there is my quest to visit and taste at all the wineries in the state, currently I’m about 50% there.

4. What inspired you to choose your career path?
The diversity in enology. I have known since I was sophomore in college that I wanted to work in food science but it took a while to figure out that enology was my field. I love the fact there are so many different types of science involved, including sensory science, statistics, microbiology, horticulture, plant science, virology, economics etc. It is never dull and there is always something to learn.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Your network is everything! Keep in touch with colleagues and friends and you won’t believe what can be accomplished.

6. Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?
Mozart , Pierre Herme (pastry chef) and Rosalind Franklin (chemist that was instrumental in determining the structure of DNA, RNA and viruses).

7. What is your vision for the future of your research?
My vision in the future is to provide those important connections/relationships between chemistry, sensory and consumer preference in wine. We are able to measure the individual components for each part and sometimes even relate these to specific viticulture and winemaking practices . But the most powerful and useful information for research and the wine industry will be when we can regularly and confidently interconnect this information. Imagine having a model where, based on your starting grape quality, you can have some useful and realistic information about the final wine outcome and potential consumer segment before you have even made the wine!

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. “

Seven Questions with Laurent Deluc

Mug Shot Question 1. What is your position at OSU/OWRI?

I am an assistant professor in the OSU Department of Horticulture (started in June 2009), and I am a member of the OWRI core faculty. My position is a combination  of grapevine research, teaching and outreach. My major focus is on studying functional genomics in grape berry development.  My group is interested in understanding the  molecular mechanisms associated with grape berry ripening and the influence of environmental factors.

 Question 2. What do enjoy most about your work?

The most interesting- and most challenging- part of my job is dissecting the complex process of grape berry ripening, which is still seen as an obscure biological process. The grape  berry cluster is not a single fruit but rather a population of individual fruits evolving together under a strong control of environmental and developmental factors. The emergence    of rapidly evolving and new technologies and their use as research tools present a unique opportunity better understand the grape berry ripening process. In the long-term, this      will give the Oregon wine industry new strategies and practices to improve fruit quality.

Question 3. When you’re not working, what do you do?

I always try to balance work time with quality time with my family. I enjoy hiking with my family to explore the beautiful sites that make Oregon an outstanding state, cooking, skiing, and biking with my family. Coming from the west coast of France, I often need to go to the coast just to feel the oceanic breeze.

Question 4. How did you choose your career path?

As I often say, it was purely coincidental. After my MS in Forestry, I knew that I wanted to explore and learn more about molecular biology in plant sciences. Grapes happen to be the model I started with and the idea to do basic research with potential societal and economic impacts suited my professional goals. After my Ph.D. in France, I accepted a post-doctoral position working on the grapevine model at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2004. The two research experiences in France and in US confirmed my determination to pursue research career in basic science using the grapevine model.

Question 5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Make a simple story from a complex concept. Basic researchers often tend to show tremendous amount of data, which are usually difficult to digest, when it is a matter of conveying a simple message. I am not always 100% successful in this exercise when I communicate with the industry, but I attempt to communicate in this way.

Question 6. Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

Hard to answers to this question without falling into simple stereotypes….

–     Nikola Tesla (inventor, mechanical engineer, futurist, etc…)

–     Alan Turing (father of the computer science and artificial intelligence)

Finally, the last one is dedicated to a grape scientist, Bryan Coombe (plant physiologist, which happens to be a grape physiologist). Dr. Coombe passed away in August 2014 this year. He was the pioneer in grape berry development and his vision about the grape berry model was 30 years ahead compared to other grape researchers at that time. His research has played a role in my decision to embrace the career of grapevine researcher.

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

My vision for the future of my research lies in two components of my grapevine research program:

–        Justify the grapevine model as a valuable tool to address fundamental questions in plant sciences and use it in a whole-plant context
–        Generate enough background knowledge in grape metabolomics that be utilized by the wine industry to address recurring and anticipated viticulture problems.