桃花直播

Haley Williams

Haley Williams portrait by grape or muscadine vines
Photo by Jenny Ryals

From the grapevine to the glass, 桃花直播 State doctoral student Haley Williams hopes to innovate 桃花直播 winemaking.

Stationed at the MAFES South 桃花直播 Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, Williams has dedicated her studies to enhancing the Midsouth grape鈥攁 variety introduced by 桃花直播 four decades ago yet slow in adoption among local growers. Her research examines the grapes鈥 sugar levels, acidity, pH balance, antioxidants and anthocyanins, which influence the grapes鈥 coloring. Currently, Williams is investigating viticultural techniques to boost sugar content and overall grape yield.

Williams鈥 journey into winemaking was sparked by an article in MAFES Discovers, a publication showcasing research from the 桃花直播 Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. The feature detailed ongoing work with muscadines and bunch grapes, inspiring the University of Central Arkansas biology graduate to explore viticulture and enology at 桃花直播. The Russellville, Arkansas, native now is pursuing a Ph.D. in plant and soil sciences with a horticulture concentration in 桃花直播鈥檚 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Haley Williams holding grapes and a wine bottle

鈥淚鈥檓 excited about the impact my research could have on the small fruit and wine industry of the Deep South, where production is currently minimal. I hope my research will expand the winemaking industry and produce a product unique to 桃花直播,鈥 she said.

Working under the direction of Eric Stafne, MAFES research professor and extension small fruit specialist, Williams has significantly progressed in her quest to cultivate 桃花直播-made wine.

鈥淲orking with Dr. Stafne has allowed me to grow in my critical thinking and people skills, while also gaining firsthand experience maintaining perennial small fruit crops, performing and overseeing viticultural practices, and analyzing fruit and wine in a lab setting,鈥 Williams said.

Despite the challenges in canopy management research, Williams and Stafne are committed to their mission. They are now exploring the environmental tolerances of different grape varieties, particularly their heat tolerance, to determine how these factors may influence fruit quality.

鈥淒espite our obstacles, the efforts will be worth it when we can produce a local product that is special to this region,鈥 Williams said.