A new greenhouse at UC Davis will be built to protect grapevines from diseases such as red blotch disease, which can cause leaves to turn red, hamper fruit ripening and reduce wine quality. (Foundation Plant Services/UC Davis)

Jun 2, 2022
UC Davis Building $5.25M Greenhouse for Protection of Grapevine Collection

A new, $5.25 million greenhouse is being built on the University of California, Davis, campus to protect a vital grapevine collection from red blotch disease and other pathogens.

The 14,400-square-foot greenhouse will have a vestibuled entry, be insect-proof and provide another level of disease protection, according to a news release from the university. The project is being spearheaded by Foundation Plant Services, or FPS, which provides the U.S. grape industry with high-quality, virus-tested grapevine plant material.

The program serves as the primary source for grapevine plant material distributed to nurseries under the California Department of Agriculture’s Grapevine Registration and Certification Program, which provides the majority of grapevines planted in the U.S., according to the University. For the grape industry, it is essential to protect this material from disease-carrying insects and guarantee fast access to clean plant material.

The university mentioned a specific concern with red blotch virus, which infected more than half of the 2021 crop at Russell Ranch — one of two locations where FPS has maintained healthy grapevine planting stock. The other site, Classic Ranch, had less than 1% of the crop infected in 2021, but it’s unclear how the disease spreads or how long Classic Ranch will remain clean.

Once the greenhouse is operating, grapevines propagated from plant material from the Classic vineyard will be moved into the greenhouse, tested and verified as clean from disease, according to a news release from the University. From there it will be sold to nurseries, which will grow additional plants to sell to growers.

Normally the foundation has 4,000 vines available, but the greenhouse will only house 2,000 vines, so inventory will be cut in half, according to UC Davis.

The first greenhouse is expected to be finished by the end of 2023, the university wrote in the news release. FPS plans to build another greenhouse in the next two to three years to increase capacity.

Above, red blotch disease can cause leaves to turn red, hamper fruit ripening and reduce wine quality. Photo: Foundation Plant Services/UC Davis