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Viticulture / Enology / Wine

Wine glass splashing with smoke. Photo Dreamstime
Summer 2018

Smoke gets in your wine

Smoke truly gets under the skin of wine grapes.

As microscopic particles and liquid droplets ooze and eddy through the vineyard, grapes are coated with toxic chemicals. Worse, smoke from forest and range fires manages to get into the plant itself, wreaking havoc with the plant’s internal chemistry.

In self-defense, grape vines attempt to sequester toxic smoke particles that infiltrate berries and leaves by binding sugar molecules to the offending invaders. The plant can then metabolically shuffle the sugar-trapped particles into places where the smoke won’t be as harmful to the vines’ mission: produce grapes and reproduce.

Humans interfere with the vines’ mission when we … » More …

Microbes in soil
Winter 2017

The microbe whisperers

Tarah Sullivan is fiercely insistent that we are all interconnected. The Washington State University soil microbiologist and ecologist says that understanding those connections is key to a healthy future.

“I know it sounds a little hokey,” the mother of two daughters apologizes without backing down: “Microorganisms connect everything everyday in every way. We absolutely could not survive on the planet without active and healthy microbiomes, in humans and in the environment.”

Sullivan’s work focuses on how microbial communities in soil impact heavy metal biogeochemistry. Many metals are important micronutrients for both plants and animals—but too much of a good thing can make plants sick. … » More …

First Words
Summer 2017

Left turns

I recently learned that drivers for UPS make 90 percent of their turns to the right. Since 2004, the package delivery company has had a policy to avoid left turns. They save millions of gallons of fuel and dollars each year because there’s less idling.

While I applaud the UPS effort to save gas and reduce emissions, there’s still something adventurous about the left turn, the unexpected veer in a new direction. We often refer to a left turn as a complete shift in our lives. Some of us even change our entire careers, such as Washington State University alumni Berenice Burdet, Richard Larsen, and … » More …

grape vine illustration
Summer 2017

Hanging a left at wine

The allure of winemaking has attracted a menagerie of professionals to the business. Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program has lured aerospace engineers, Army medics, apparel designers, scientists, and many others to the field. Here, we bring you a few of the stories of those who have changed careers by hanging a left at wine.

After years of dissecting rat brains, Berenice Burdet had had enough.

The Argentinian neuroscientist was untangling stress’s web of physiological effects on the hippocampus. The stress we feel in a crammed subway train, Burdet says, affects our behavior by dampening affect. We become depressed, and activity levels decline. … » More …

Fall 2016

Three’s a charm

It’s easy to find the Cougar wine along the row of stainless steel tanks at Bergevin Lane Winery in Walla Walla. The WSU logo gives it away. But what’s inside really distinguishes Cougar III wine.

“The idea that what’s in the bottle comes first is the predominant feeling around here,” says winemaker Dave Harvey ’88. “But what’s most unique about this vintage of the Coug wines is that everybody is Coug: vineyard owners, winery owner, winemaker.”

Winery owner and manager Annette Bergevin ’86 laughs at the synchronicity as she, Harvey, and winery dog Paco walk past the tanks.

Cougar III wine also has three … » More …

Caviar and sparkling wine
Winter 2014

Holiday sparklers and caviar

Holiday Sparklers

by Hannelore Sudermann

At Karma Vineyards, where grapevines pour down the hillside toward the southern shore of Lake Chelan, a 3,000-square-foot cave holds the next few years’ of sparkling wine.

Three different grapes from the 14 acres of vines go into the bubbly: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. They’re treated much the same way they would be in the Champagne region of France, where the complex and labor-intensive method of making sparkling wine was perfected.

“The méthode champenoise is worth the work,” says Julie Pittsinger ’06, who owns Karma with her husband Bret. They opened Karma’s doors in … » More …