Cornell deepened its century-long commitment to western New York's wine, grape and juice industries when it officially opened its new $5.4 million Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory (CLEREL) in Portland, N.Y., Aug. 25, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The new state-funded Portland facility replaces the research lab that Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has maintained in nearby Fredonia since 1909. The new facility is expected to help CALS researchers make further viticulture advancements in such areas as vineyard management and production systems, grape breeding, pest control and mechanical harvesting, and continue studies to increase yields, improve quality and sustainable vineyard practices, and lower production costs of grapes grown in the Lake Erie escarpment, especially the well-known Concord and Niagara varieties.
More than 50 acres of prime grape-growing land surround the new lab. The facility also includes state-of-the-art equipment for lab and field tests, and classrooms and meeting space for research and extension staff from Cornell and Pennsylvania State University, visiting scientists and growers.
Leading the ceremony were N.Y. State Sen. Catharine Young (R-Olean); N.Y. Assemblyman William Parment (D-Jamestown); Susan A. Henry, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Tom Burr, director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.
"The Portland laboratory serves as a regional hub for research and extension, as well as a resource for growers, producers and visiting scientists from New York and beyond," said Henry. "It is truly rewarding to uphold our commitment to supporting the state's grape, wine and juice industries, which are vitally important to the New York economy and the Lake Erie region in particular."
According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM), the state wine and grape industry makes a $6 billion annual economic impact and includes more than 1,400 vineyards statewide.
Also at the ceremony, Terry Bates, director of CLEREL received the Agricultural Environmental Management Award from Jackie Moody-Czub, NYSDAM deputy commissioner, to recognize his efforts to conserve open space and water quality in the design, construction and operation of the new building.
Ted Boscia is a staff writer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.