Robert Steinhauer, pictured with his wife, Verna, was named the 2008 Merit Award winner by the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. Steinhauer's peers gave him a standing ovation.
PHOTOS: Ken Freeze/Brown Miller Communications
Portland, Ore. -- The Oregon Convention Center was abuzz the third week of June with researchers, vineyard managers, winemakers and suppliers as they gathered for the 59th annual meeting of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV).
Winemakers polished their knowledge of microbiology and oxidation, while viticulturists heard the latest news in plant disease research during intensive educational seminars.
Ed Sbragia, left, and Tom Peterson were two of Steinhauer 's many Beringer/Fosters colleagues attending ASEV.
Many attendees spent a day touring nearby Willamette Valley vineyards and wineries, and another day talking and tasting with their colleagues from Burgundy in a related symposium. According to Mike Miller, spokesman for ASEV's 59th annual meeting, 1,500 people attended the event that wrapped up with a day-long sensory symposium June 20.
The opening session June 18 at the Oregon Convention Center featured the honorary research lecture by Dr. Peter Winterhalter of Germany, who spoke about his 24 years of work with countercurrent chromatography (CCC). Winterhalter explained his groundbreaking research with colleagues using CCC to isolate and identify aroma precursors in wine. He said he started on quince and papaya fruits, and then applied the technology to identify the kerosene "off flavor" of Rieslings from Germany, South Africa and Australia.
Shunji Suzuki of the University of Yamanashi, Japan, explains his research on Pinot Gris.
Student Eve-Lyn Hinckley, who won the best student oral presentation award for viticulture.
Ed Hellman of Texas A&M University serves on the ASEV Technical Projects Committee.
Wine lactone aroma was another target of Winterhalter's research, and he investigated ways to determine the age of wines by utilizing CCC. Using blackberries rather than grapes, he found anthocyanins in the berries that, when used on laboratory mice, reduced the precursors of colon cancer by 45%.
Winterhalter, enjoying his moment in the sunshine of his colleagues' attention, demonstrated to the ASEV attendees how the equipment worked, first with a slideshow, and then by enlisting his former researcher, Sue Ebeler of the University of California, Davis, to perform a revolving dance move with him that approximated the movement of key parts of the machinery. He said that CCC will not replace common chromatography in enology, but it is valuable for isolating wine constituents on a preparatory scale.
One well-attended grapegrowing session covered research into plant diseases such as Pierce's disease, Botrytis and berry shrivel disorder, while speakers at a concurrent winemaking session discussed aroma chemistry--particularly flavors and flavor precursors in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Researchers from New Zealand, where Sauvignon Blanc comprises 73% of the country's wine exports, shared their findings indicating that location is directly tied to the aromas of the varietal. Growers wrapped up the day with sessions on vineyard management and berry development, while winemakers heard from university microbiologists about genes, yeast, oxygen concentration and oxidation.
ASEV president Craig Rous presented Robert Steinhauer, longtime vineyard manager for Beringer, with the organization's 2008 Merit Award (see "Robert Steinhauer Reflects")
in what was perhaps the best-attended event of the week. After Steinhauer's address, his colleagues gave him a standing ovation.
Julie Tarara (left) and Jungmin Lee represented the USDA at the conference in Portland, Ore. Tarara spoke about the effects of field temperature and anthocyanins on Merlot.
The second day of technical presentations included two sessions on water relations and a sensory session featuring speakers from the Niagara Peninsula, Canada; Australia, Germany, Oregon and California. Winemakers wrapped up the day with a two-hour session on wine phenolic composition.
In addition to the technical sessions on grapegrowing and winemaking, 145 companies staffed 162 booths in the tradeshow area, which will be discontinued at the 2009 annual meeting, according to Miller, the spokesman of this year's meeting.
Among the various booths, and scattered around the tradeshow floor, wine industry newcomers and veterans attended a variety of supplier showcase seminars, ranging from analyzing pH and SO2 with electrodes, to repairing and maintaining barrels, to increasing efficiency with vineyard equipment--a seminar that was chaired by Patty Skinkis of Oregon State University, Corvallis, and highly attended by growers from the Northwest. Miller said, "We've got a nice contingency of winemakers and growers from the Northwest--Oregon and Washington."