Tony D. Wolf of Winchester, Va., received the 2011 Andy Swiger Land-Grant Award for his contributions to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. Wolf is the director of the Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Winchester.

Established to reward creative achievement and commitment to the college, the award recognizes faculty members whose accomplishments in teaching, research, or Extension greatly benefit the agriculture industry and improve the quality of life for Virginians.

When Wolf, professor of horticulture and viticulture specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension, joined Virginia Tech in 1986, Virginia’s wine and grape industry faced a void of technical information, growers with limited viticulture experience, and an industry constrained by poor grape varieties and low yields. In response, Wolf initiated an aggressive research and Extension program to generate knowledge and effect positive change for both novice and experienced grape producers.

Due in part to Wolf’s Extension and applied research efforts, the Virginia grape and wine industry has seen remarkable growth and achieved national recognition. In 1987, Virginia’s grape production consisted of 1,100 acres, and there were 35 wineries. Today, Virginia is the sixth-largest wine-grape-producing state in the country, with about 3,000 acres in production and more than 180 wineries. The industry’s economic impact on the commonwealth totaled $362 million in 2005.

“Dr. Wolf’s Extension program has had a vital impact on the growth and development of the Virginia grape and wine industry, and his program has also benefited similar industries in other states,” said Roger Harris, professor and interim head of the Department of Horticulture. “His performance, his results, and his communication and leadership abilities all make him most deserving of this prestigious award.”

“We have seen tremendous growth in the Virginia wine industry over the past couple of decades, and much of that success can be directly related to the work done by Dr. Wolf. Tony has helped lay the foundation for our industry, and his continued hard work will guide us into the future,” said Dean Triplett, past-president of the Virginia Vineyards Association. “Tony is, as I have called him, the heart and soul of Virginia grape growing. There is not a vineyard in this state that has not been touched by his work.”

Wolf has conducted extensive research on cultivar selection; organized more than 100 state, regional, or international workshops and short courses; and provided leadership to both state and national organizations. In 1996, he wrote the award-winning publication, “The Mid-Atlantic Winegrape Grower’s Guide,” and in 2008, he co-authored and edited the “Wine Grape Production Guide for Eastern North America.”

Wolf received the university's 2009 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension. In 2010, he led a multistate team that obtained a significant U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to improve grape and wine quality in the eastern U.S.

Wolf earned his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, his master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, and his doctorate from Cornell University.

Generous contributions to the Andy Swiger Land-Grant Award Endowment make the annual recognition possible. “With others in the industry and university, we created these awards to keep the land-grant spirit alive by honoring the college’s outstanding faculty and staff member each year who most personify this spirit by serving the industry through making a real difference in the areas of food, agriculture, and biological sciences,” said Dean Emeritus Andy Swiger.

In addition to recognizing college personnel each year, the endowment honors Swiger’s leadership and his service to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Swiger began his Virginia Tech career in 1980 as head of the Department of Animal Science. He served as the college’s associate dean from 1986 to 1992 and as its dean from 1992 to 2003.



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