Auburn Grape Study Good News for State Vineyards, Wineries

The future of wine grapes in Alabama may be about to change. Elina Coneva, an Auburn University Horticulture Associate Professor, established a 100-vine research vineyard at the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station’s Chilton Research and Extension Center four years ago. One of the biggest problems facing the wine industry in the South is the prominence of Pierce’s disease, which causes bacteria to clog water-transporting tissues in a vine. Coneva used a species called Vitis Vinifera, a hybrid of European wine grapes, but took advantage of a California plant breeder’s Pierce’s disease-resistant grapevine selections. Thus far, every year has produced an impressive yield, as well as stayed free of any trace of Pierce’s disease. As a result of these promising tests, wine growers are getting a better sense of best management practices and production system recommendations for Alabama.

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