MSU professor and MSU alum to receive achievement in viticulture awards
posted on June 29, 2012 10:31am
517-432-1555, ext. 222
or Paolo Sabbatini
517-355-5191, ext. 1302
EAST LANSING, Mich. – G. Stanley Howell, professor emeritus of viticulture and enology at Michigan State University (MSU), is this year’s recipient of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section (ASEV-ES) Lifetime Achievement award.
Howell will be honored at the ASEV-ES annual Grand Awards Banquet on July 18 in Traverse City at the Hagerty Conference Center.
Since coming to MSU in 1969, Howell’s contributions to Michigan’s cool climate viticulture and enology industry have been part of its expansion to more than seven times its value in 1969. Michigan has gone from a state that produced dessert wines to one of primarily dry table wine production, in addition to its juice grape industry. Howell’s major emphases included knowing and understanding how various wine grape cultivars handled stresses common in Michigan’s cool climate, finding those cultivars that are compatible and evaluating the wines created from those cultivars to see if they were economically viable.
Howell was part of the expansion of educational programs in viticulture and enology developed in response to the needs of a growing grape and wine industry, both in Michigan and the Midwest. Expansion included courses in grape production, wine production, wine judging and current issues in viticulture and enology, culminating in a certificate of technology from MSU. Post-retirement, Howell continues to assist in the development of viticulture and enology educational courses through the VESTA (Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance) program.
“During his long career at MSU, Stan Howell has contributed a great deal to the understanding, and practice, of cold-climate viticulture, especially as it pertains to Michigan,” said Dave Johnson, senior winemaker at Stone Hill Winery in Missouri. “Perhaps more important, however, is the impact he has made on his students and others who have worked for him. From my first days of graduate study under Dr. Howell… it became clear that he intended to hold his students to a higher standard, where nothing less than one’s best effort was acceptable.”
“Stan is well-recognized for his training and education of many students while at MSU,” says Thomas Davenport, retired director of the National Grape Cooperative. “He provided grape growers with the needed tools to improve yields that helped Michigan Concord and Niagara producers achieve profitability.”
One of Howell’s former graduate students, James A. Wolpert, will be receiving the Outstanding Achievement award at the same meeting. Wolpert received his Ph.D. from MSU in 1983, and is responsible for applied research and grower education programs for northern California as the viticulture extension specialist at University of California Davis (UC Davis).
“Dr. Wolpert was a driving force at UC Davis during his tenure as chairperson in the Department of Viticulture and Enology,” says Paolo Sabbatini, MSU assistant professor of viticulture. “Jim had a major impact on the California and U.S. grape industry during the rootstock/biotype-B phylloxera period when his research recommended discontinuing the use of AxR#1. He has established a great connection between UC Davis, the wine industry and its supporters in California that was pivotal in the multi-million dollar fund-raising program for the new viticulture and enology facilities at Davis, which are a model of both the most recent innovations in wine processing and the use of energy-saving methods.
“These latest innovations are now being copied by both research universities and winery development engineers across the nation,” Sabbatini notes. “Dr. Wolpert has significant research and extension contributions in California, including efforts to find appropriate rootstocks for California in the wake of the development of the biotype-B phylloxera mutation, and he has further provided evaluation of important varietal clones, especially of Zinfandel.”
Wolpert’s recognition by the ASEV-ES is based on the considerable contribution he made to viticulture research and outreach during his career in Michigan, and through subsequent research collaborations. Between 1976 and 1987, he wrote 23 publications, 11 of which were refereed and seven published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. He has also collaborated on efforts directly relevant to eastern U.S. viticulture with five refereed papers since 2008.
The scope of Wolpert’s writing has included issues in grapevine cold hardiness, methods to reduce economic losses due to frost damage, statistical methods for effective fruit sampling, pruning and training new varieties, and variety evaluation. In the course of these efforts, the initial research efforts on Vidal blanc, Vignoles, Chardonel (then NY. 45010) varieties began.
“Equally important, Dr. Wolpert was active in issues of Concord and Niagara grape production economics,” says Sabbatini. “He was a part of the team that determined that Niagara grapes harvested at 13 degrees to 14 degrees Brix made superior quality juice than when harvested at the 15-degree to 16-degree Brix standard for Concord. This had the impact of allowing increased yields of Niagara than would have been otherwise impossible. His contribution to eastern U.S. viticulture has been significant, and this award recognizes that contribution.”
Purchase tickets for the ASEV-ES annual Grand Awards Banquet on the ASEV-ES website at www.asev-es.org. Use the 2012 Annual Meeting registration form.