Two biochemistry graduate students making a difference

Danny Hooper Ryan Ghan

When one thinks about growing grapes and making wine, Nevada is not the first to come to mind. But for Danny Hopper and Ryan Ghan, they are certainly leading the charge. Working on their PhD’s in plant biochemistry, they are trying to resolve some of the issues surrounding growing grapes in arid climates.

Having grown up here in Northern Nevada, their commitment to bringing vineyards and wineries to Northern Nevada has become an important part of their overall educational experience. Over the past year, Danny and Ryan have become instrumental in developing hands-on workshops, wine tasting classes, and a recently formed non-profit organization Nevada Vines & Wines .

Combined, these two students have over 15 years of experience growing and making wine. Over this time, they have tested 13 varieties of wine grapes under a variety of environmental conditions to determine what works in northern Nevada’s microclimates.

“We have a great opportunity to build a wine industry in Nevada. With the help of CABNR, we are in the process of scaling up a commercial vineyard at the Main Station Field Lab” says Danny Hopper. “Not only do we hope to make great wine, but our organization also hopes to encourage growers and winemakers to create their own vineyards, especially here in the Reno area.”

As both Danny and Ryan continue to their research into cold-weather tolerance, they will be the first to admit that the bar has been set very high. “We are confident that with the collaboration between CABNR, Nevada Vines & Wines, and a host of volunteers, we can truly make this a successful venture”, said Ryan Ghan.