LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 20, 2017) — To ensure its continued ability to provide research and education efforts for the state’s grape and wine industries, the University of Kentucky plans to sell some of the wine it produces through that research.
The wine will only be available to the university community through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s subscription-based Community Supported Agriculture Project for faculty, staff and students and at UK owned-and-operated facilities such as the Boone Center and Spindletop Hall. UK will not be stocking its wine on store shelves or making its wine available to local restaurants.
“Our intention is not to compete with wineries in our state,” said Lisa Cassis, UK vice president for research. “This program exists to support the grape and wine industries in Kentucky through our research.”
The program is partially supported by grants from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board. One of the guiding principles of the board in providing funds is to develop self-sustaining programs.
“We must explore all possible opportunities to make the viticulture/enology program sustainable if we wish to continue serving the grape and wine industry in Kentucky,” said Robert Houtz, chair of UK’s Department of Horticulture.
“We are happy to see UK making progress in developing a sustainable program,” said Warren Beeler, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy. “One role of the Kentucky Agriculture Development Fund is to invest in projects and programs that have a regional or statewide impact, add value to Kentucky agriculture and, ultimately, can operate on their own beyond the funding period.”
The Kentucky Wineries Association board has discussed UK’s vision and is in support of their ideas and moving forward with their plans, said Chad Peach, association president.
“There’s been much dialogue with questions going back and forth between winery owners and UK staff,” he said. “UK is willing to give the KWA and Kentucky wineries its plan and goals in writing. The KWA board has discussed UK’s vision and is in support of their ideas and moving forward with their plans. All money generated will go directly to support the viticulture and enology program. The money will help teach students, continue research and assist growers and wineries in all aspects of productions.”
UK grows different grapes at its horticulture research farm to identify those varieties particularly suited to Kentucky’s climate. UK specialists work with grape growers to identify and implement management strategies that will improve both profitability and grape and wine quality. They assist growers with vineyard establishment decisions, teach pruning and training techniques and answer production questions. UK also provides research and extension efforts to support Kentucky winemakers in their quests to make award-winning wines.
Additionally, the horticulture department and other faculty in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, offers courses that enhance career opportunities for students interested in entering the industry.
In order to sell the wines developed as part of its research, the university must obtain a license and is in the process of doing so. The winery will be operated under the UK Research Foundation.