View between two rows of trellised grape vines with many bunches of nearly ripe purple grapes and some weeds growing in the soil View between two rows of trellised grape vines with many bunches of nearly ripe purple grapes and some weeds growing in the soil

Improving Soil Health on Vineyards

Generating Soil Health Solutions
Generating Soil Health Solutions

Program Contact

Dr. LaKisha Odom

lodom@foundationfar.org

Dr.-Christina-Lazcano

Dr. Cristina Lazcano

University of California, Davis

Year Awarded  2022

FFAR award amount   $999,003

Total award amount   $2,600,000

Location   Davis, CA

Program   Seeding Solutions

Matching Funders   Jackson Family Wines

Research Gaps Hamper Regenerative Agriculture Practice Adoption on Vineyards

Wine grapes are sensitive crops. They are particularly susceptible to subtle changes in temperature and precipitation, making them vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Regenerative agriculture, which uses holistic farming and grazing practices to strengthen soil health and crop productivity, may help grape vines weather changing climate conditions. While regenerative agriculture could yield more productive wine grapes, farmers need research proving the benefits to  adopting these practices. To better support farmers, this grant supports University of California, Davis researchers and Jackson Family Wines with U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service scientists to assess the effects of regenerative practices on vineyard soil health. This research aims to provide farmers with an in-depth understanding of how soil management practices drive soil carbon sequestration while connecting the dots between changes in soil carbon, soil health and grape quality.

Why This Research is Important

Grapes are the highest-value fruit crop in the U.S., valued at over $5.93 billion. In 2021, 6.05 million tons of grapes were grown commercially in the U.S., with over 70% of the fruit used in wine. California produces more than 99% of those grapes. To produce optimal fruit quality, wine grapes require narrow climate ranges. This requirement has forced growers on the U.S. West Coast to rapidly adapt to climate change challenges like droughts and other severe weather conditions to remain viable.

The wine industry is aware that adopting regenerative agriculture practices can benefit grape crops, and farmers are  experimenting with them to increase soil health and crop resiliency. Yet, large uncertainty exists on the efficacy of these practices across different conditions and the impacts on grape quality. Farmers need applied research that assesses the efficacy of regenerative agriculture in supporting soil health and production goals.

Dr.-Christina-Lazcano
Woody perennial crops like wine grapes have large potential to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change. Because of this, the wine grape industry is uniquely positioned to spearhead efforts in regenerative agricultural management. We are proud to contribute to the development of science-based best management practices to support the sustainability efforts of the wine grape industry. Dr. Cristina Lazcano
Associate Professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources

Learn More About this Research

Research Goals

This project will support and further develop partnerships between Jackson Family Wines, a pioneer in the adoption of  regenerative agriculture and one of the largest growers of premium quality wine grapes in the U.S., and researchers at the University of California Davis, University of California Berkeley, California Polytechnic State University, Skidmore College, Oregon State University, USDA and University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Jackson Family Wines is uniquely positioned to support this effort given their large acreage spanning a diverse climatic landscape from Oregon to Central California and their commitment to transitioning their entire 14,000-acre farming operations to regenerative agriculture by 2030.

The overarching goal of this grant is to determine the efficacy of regenerative agricultural practices to build soil health in commercial vineyards and evaluate effects on crop productivity and grape quality. To achieve this, the research team will address the following specific goals:

  • Establish a reliable sampling methodology to determine within-field changes in soil carbon.
  • Assess the effects of historical management in vineyard soil carbon and yield across different soil and climate conditions on the U.S. West Coast.
  • Determine the effects of regenerative agriculture practices on soil health and grape quality in 12 experimental trials.
  • Educate farmers, industry stakeholders and policy makers on the meaning and assessment of soil health and benefits of regenerative agriculture.

Matching Funders

Jackson Family Wines



Jackson Family Wines launched Rooted for Good: Roadmap to 2030 in 2021. This 10-year sustainability and climate action plan is a bold, comprehensive set of goals and initiatives designed to lead climate solutions, create a positive social impact, and support the Jackson family’s long-term vision for a sustainable future.

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