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App Launches for Pennsylvania Grape Growers and Wine Lovers
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 05/18/2022

Penn State Extension recently launched a new web application, "Cultivars in the Commonwealth," aimed at empowering grape growers and wine makers throughout Pennsylvania. The app gives detailed information on various cultivars, or types of grapes -- e.g., pinot noir or chardonnay -- grown across the state.

Users can click on a county to display the cultivars grown in that county. They also can filter by type of cultivar to learn about its planting properties, crop yield, fruit composition and maturity, disease resilience, wine quality, consumer demand, sales trends, and more. In addition to grape growers and wine makers, the app is designed for grape and wine industry stakeholders, those new to the industry, marketing personnel, and hobbyists.

The project emerged to document some of the unknown: which cultivars are grown throughout the state, where they are grown, quantities in which they are grown, and how they perform at that location based on several traits of interest to grape growers and winemakers, explained Cain Hickey, viticulture extension educator based in Centre County.

"Grapes are grown all over the state," Hickey said. "But climatic differences can change which cultivars can be successfully grown. For example, just because merlot and chardonnay can work in Chester County doesn't necessarily mean they will work in Centre County."

New grape growers who want to determine the feasibility of a specific site may particularly benefit from the app, Hickey noted. In addition, researchers and grant writers could use the app to quickly gather statewide information about cultivars.

"It's interactive in the sense that users can enter the app based on their frame of interest, whether they're trying to figure out statewide trends, they're interested in the details of what's going on in each county, or they're interested in only specific traits, such as crop yield, fruit composition or disease resilience." Hickey said.

Experienced commercial growers can help expand the database by filling out a Penn State survey but should keep location in mind, noted Hickey. "We're only interested in feedback about grapes grown on Pennsylvania soil and/or wines made from grapes grown on Pennsylvania soil."

The app was made possible through a grant supported by the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board and funded by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The Penn State Extension Grape and Wine Team coordinated the project.

"A web app is a unique extension deliverable -- usually extension products are fact sheets, articles, videos, workshops or webinars," Hickey said. "Some states gather statewide, cultivar-specific production data. But, to our knowledge, few to none seek the level of cultivar- and location-specific detail we sought in this effort. Thus, it is possible other states could benefit from having a similar resource."

The app is available at "Cultivars in the Commonwealth" at https://extension.psu.edu/cultivars-in-the-commonwealt


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