Wine starts and can end in the vineyard; mites/insects (visible and microscopic), diseases, mildew, and Mother Nature make it a miracle wine ever makes it onto the shelf.
Even as vineyard managers adopt Biodynamic®, organic or sustainable vineyard practices, there will always be challenges to maintaining healthy vines. The most recognized disaster of the 19th century for the wine industry was phylloxera; a disease in which a small bug feeds on the roots of vines. With no known totally effective preventative measures, research discovered there were ways to minimize the phylloxera impact; the solution was and is through grafting species onto rootstocks that are phylloxera resistant. This is just one example of the constant need for research to sustain the wine industry.
Most research today involving vines; farming practices; diseases and pest control methods, are conducted by universities throughout the U.S. However, there are some private research efforts too. In the winery there are many techniques that impact/imbue the characteristics of wine. But, research is ongoing to develop new varieties that will meet certain grower and winery specification for improved disease control, aromas, taste, yields and climate change adaptations. Additionally, there is ongoing efforts to develop vines that can withstand extreme temperatures, poor soil conditions (such as salinity), and altitude effects. University of California-Davis’ Dr. Andrew Walker is very involved with the issue of grapes grown in saline in soil.