With some of the highest elevation vineyards in the United States, Colorado boasts a total economic impact of $3.9 billion (according to WineAmerica data). Home to 145 wineries, Colorado has a new Extension Viticultural Specialist at Colorado State University. Her name is Charlotte Oliver. Her educational background is in wine grape pathology, specifically in cluster rots and their control. She received her PhD (2018) and MS (2016) in Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science and my BS (2012) in General Biology from Virginia Tech. During her graduate program, she was stationed at the Alson H Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center in northern Virginia, in the heart of Virginia apple and wine country. This opportunity allowed her to be actively engaged in not just the industry, but in the actual vineyard management of our research vineyard.
During her masters, Oliver’s research focused on working with the wine grape industry to survey the state for cluster rot diseases to determine the distribution of grape ripe rot as well as test the sensitivity of grape clusters to infection at six phenological stages. She continued her work with grape ripe rot during her PhD, building on those industry relationships to complete fungicide research trials at multiple locations. She expanded her focus to include microscopic investigations of grape ripe rot infection, testing 14 commercial products for efficacy, and used molecular techniques to identify eight different grape ripe rot fungal species in the state.
After completion of her PhD, she began a three-year post-doctoral research position in the Moyer lab at WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser WA. Her main focus was serving as the project manager for the USDA-SCRI-NIFA grant “Fungicide Resistance Assessment Mitigation and Extension (FRAME) networks” (framenetworks.wsu.edu) which focused on detecting, assessing spread, and providing educational programming about fungicide resistance in vineyards. In this position, she was able to participate in conducting a nationwide survey of grower perceptions around fungicide resistance and assist with the delivery of many grower workshops on fungicide spray program development.
“I am looking forward to applying the educational programming skills I’ve learned during my graduate and post-grad work in expanding resource access to all corners of Colorado,” Oliver shared. “There has been extensive research on multiple viticultural problems like mitigating winter injury and evaluating cold-hardy cultivars that the industry is deeply interested in. They just need it in their hands. It’s an exciting time to be in Colorado right now. We are a small industry but there is a lot of potential for Colorado to become a serious attraction and wine destination.”