Last updated on March 25, 2010

A team of researchers examining abscisic acid in Merlot berries and the authors of a paper on winemaking effects were designated by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) to receive the best paper awards for viticulture and enology, respectively. The two papers published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV) in 2009 were chosen by the ASEV best paper committee for their contributions to the field.

The top viticulture paper, “Profiles of Abscisic Acid and Its Catabolites in Developing Merlot Grape (Vitis vinifera) Berries” (60: 277-284), was authored by Canadian researchers Stacey J. Owen, Monika D. Lafond, Pat Bowen, Carl Bogdanoff, Kevin Usher, and Suzanne R. Abrams.

“This is breakthrough research that may pave the way for numerous scientific studies going forward. It is one of the first investigations of catabolites of a plant hormone in grape and represents novel thinking,” explained best paper committee member Mark Greenspan. “Our current understanding about plant hormones is rudimentary and a better understanding of their role will have tremendous scientific benefit. Understanding their function will help us understand how our viticultural practices may be manipulated to control the development and maturation of fruit.”

The award for best enology paper was given to James F. Harbertson, Maria S. Mireles, Eric D. Harwood, Karen M. Weller, and Carolyn F. Ross of Washington State University for “Chemical and Sensory Effects of Saignée, Water Addition, and Extended Maceration on High Brix Must” (60: 450-460).

“The committee noted that the paper addresses questions and practices of all winemakers, but specifically the many boutique winemakers who do not have the facilities to address the impacts of often used winemaking practices on their products,” said committee chair Sara Spayd. “They commended the authors for having their fingers on the pulse of winemakers, particularly those in warm regions such as California, Australian, and southern France.”

Each year, the ASEV best paper committee reads and evaluates all the research articles published in the AJEV during the previous year and selects one paper in viticulture and one in enology that reflect outstanding research and a substantial contribution to its field. The 2009-10 committee members include Sara Spayd (chair), North Carolina State University; Torey Arvik, Jackson Family Enterprises; Bryan Avila, Napa Valley College; Kristen Barnhisel, Handley Cellars; Connie Fisk, North Carolina State University; Mark Greenspan, Advanced Viticulture; and Steve Vasquez, University of California Cooperative Extension. The authors will be presented with a plaque and monetary award at the June 2010 ASEV National Conference in Seattle, Washington.

Both best papers are currently highlighted on the AJEV online website and are available free of charge.