The Pacific Northwest is a relatively new and rapidly expanding grape-producing region with most new acreage in the semiarid areas of Washington, Idaho, and southern Oregon. Production practices are necessarily different from those of more traditional regions like California and Europe because these northwest areas have a short growing season, significant risk of winter injury, intense solar radiation, and require irrigation for successful production. Many farming practices and the selection of grape varieties are based on growers' experience and anecdotal evidence.
To compete in national and international markets, northwest growers must produce high quality grapes consistently and sustainably. One component of this is improved efficiency in their mechanized and automated operations.It also is critical to understand how the unique climatology of this region influences vineyard productivity and grape quality. This fundamental knowledge will allow the development of improved farming practices, including for example more efficient irrigation, especially where water resources may be both limited and in demand by competing groups of users (e.g., agriculture, industry, fish habitat, population centers).Environmental variables like sunlight and temperature affect grapevine biology through processes like fruit development. For example, wine (or juice) quality is a product of berry ripening. Any factor influencing the ability of the vines to ripen fruit will affect wine quality: irrigation, temperature, sunlight, and nutrients all influence vine and berry growth. Research specific to this area will offer growers sensible alternatives for increasing vineyard efficiency and the quality of their final product.