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NY viticulture model inspiring efforts

April 20, 2009  By Cornell University

grapeharvestApril 20, 2009, Westfield, NY – A program to enhance the sustainability
of New York’s grape and wine industry is extending its value to other

April 20, 2009, Westfield, NY – A program to enhance the sustainability of New York’s grape and wine industry is extending its value to other growers.


Representatives of the National Grape Cooperative, based in Westfield, N.Y., recently travelled to Michigan and Washington to support the continued development of sustainable viticulture programs in those states.
The National Grape Cooperative, which has about 1200 members including 44 in Ontario, has adopted the VineBalance Sustainable Viticulture program, developed by Cornell University, as the sustainable production standard for its growers in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The cooperative is encouraging growers in Michigan and Washington to develop tandem programs for consistency.
The National Grape Cooperative launched Grape*A*Syst, the grape growers’ sustainability assessment and risk reduction workbook, for Michigan grape growers on April 9. The cooperative is expected to launch a sustainable viticulture program for Washington state grape growers, with the assistance of Washington State University, in fall 2009.
National Grape Cooperative's director of viticulture research Thomas Davenport says VineBalance is expected to help growers avoid the challenge of having to meet several different sets of standards for the different buyers of grapes and grape products.
The core element of VineBalance is the New York Guide to Sustainable Viticulture Practices Grower Self-assessment Workbook that growers customize for their vineyard business.

“The workbook acts as a roadmap for evaluating viticultural practices and the diverse aspects of growing grapes in New York, and soon in Michigan and Washington states,” said Dr. Timothy E. Martinson, VineBalance program leader at Cornell University.
The VineBalance workbook contains 134 questions in eight sections with production protocols, a timeline and worksheets developed specific to the growing conditions in New York, Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie region and coastal Ohio. Pennsylvania State University grape extension educators participated in the development of the workbook.
Dr. Martinson says the more than 100 New York growers who have completed the workbook have given attention to such practices as safe storage and handling of fertilizers and pesticides; monitoring and improving soil health; and reducing spray drift.
"Sustainability is a result of the sum of decisions regarding the practices used to manage vine growth, weeds, diseases, insects, and soil fertility. VineBalance is a process by which growers can evaluate their entire range of production practices and decide how and when to adopt specific practices that will increase the sustainability of their vineyards,” Dr. Martinson says.

Learn more about VineBalance online at

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