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Liquor Control Board awards nearly $2 million to support Pa. wine, beer and cider industries

Keith Srakocic

Pennsylvania’s wine, beer and cider industries are getting a boost from the Wolf administration to increase marketing and production. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved grants totaling $1,925,319 for 13 different projects.

Six hundred thousand dollars of that total was awarded to Penn State University for eight different wine and malt and brewed beverage projects.

“Pennsylvania industries have to adopt new ways of doing business in the COVID-19 world,” Gov. Tom Wolf said this week. “These grants will provide substantial funding to help two vital parts of our agricultural community not only explore ways of improving production methods, but also boost marketing efforts that reach beyond our borders.”

The Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverages Industry Promotion Board and the Wine Marketing and Research Board helped select the projects which range from improving hops production to the color of certain red wines.

Both boards recommended launching a joint advertising campaign for the state’s growing cider industry. The Pennsylvania Cider Guild will use the money to develop a website with a “PA Cider Trail guide,” as well as other educational materials. The goal is to increase membership in the statewide cider guild and promote the state’s cider industry.

Among the seven wine projects launched by the grants is research by Penn State that will study how the invasive spotted lanternfly affects cabernet franc, a grape variety often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Penn State Extension has been studying the numerous negative impacts of the spotted lanternfly since it first arrived in Pennsylvania in 2014. Researchers have recorded the pest feeding on economically important crops like grapevines, cucumber, hardwoods, and ornamentals.

Damage has been reported at Pennsylvania vineyards including reduced starch concentration in vine roots, lower crop yield, increased susceptibility to frost damage and death of vines. Penn State will receive $108,161 to further study how to manage and suppress spotted lanternfly populations near vineyards.

The other five wine projects are:

  • $531,220 to the Pennsylvania Winery Association to promote the state’s vineyards as they recover from pandemic losses;
  • $88,747 to Penn State University to study to expand the use of an oxygenation technique previously studied to improve wine color and quality while reducing the reliance on barrels;
  • $79,310 to Penn State University to study and educate industry professionals about how to reduce damage done to vineyards by herbicide drift from neighboring land;
  • $74,003 to Penn State University to research how to minimize frost damage to budding grapes; and
  • $57,192 to Penn State University to study and manage grapevine leafroll disease.

The six beer projects funded by the grants are:

  • $498,000 to GK Visual, LLC to continue their “Poured in PA” series. Twelve new episodes of the series will feature Pennsylvania’s craft beer history. GK Visual will also produce hundreds of one-to-two minute promotional videos for hundreds of the state’s breweries, tourism organizations and beer trails;
  • $150,000 to Visit Philadelphia to promote the city as a premier destination for craft breweries and boost sales at Philadelphia-area breweries;
  • $94,341 to Penn State University to study how high sulfur dioxide-producing yeast strains could improve beer quality and prevent spoilage;
  • $78,603 to Penn State University to improve hops palletization for small hop growers;
  • $45,000 to the Fox School of Business at Temple University to develop strategies to help the beer and malt beverage industry recover from the pandemic and promote long-term growth; and
  • $40,500 to Visit Luzerne County to create and distribute a beer trail guide for the county’s 10 breweries.

In the years since the first beer grants were approved in 2017, the PLCB has awarded more than $5.8 million in grants to support the Pennsylvania beer industry.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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