Norton Named Director of Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute

Erin Norton looks forward to continuing the success of Iowa's wine industry

April 10, 2024, 12:51 pm | Erin L. Norton

Erin Norton.AMES, Iowa – The newly named director of the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute brings nearly a decade of experience to the position.

Erin Norton has been with the institute since 2015 and was named director in March of 2024. In the new role, she will oversee a team of four staff and four student employees, with the goal of educating and improving Iowa’s wine industry.

“Our mission is to help the grape and wine industry across the Midwest through research, education and laboratory services, and we do all of this in hopes of helping to figure out how to grow successful grape varieties in Iowa and the multi-state region,” she said.

The Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute is part of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and is housed within the Food Science Building at Iowa State University.

Norton developed a passion for winemaking and chemistry during her college years. She grew up in Canada, near Niagara Falls, and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Waterloo, Ontario; and a master’s in chemistry from the University of Windsor. She earned a Ph.D. from Iowa State in food science and technology, in 2022.

“Erin Norton cares about quality and takes our businesses’ concerns seriously, exploring practical research projects that help our industry improve,” said Anne Zwink, president of the Iowa Wine Growers Association. “Erin is not afraid to ask for input from both peers and everyday folks in the Iowa wine industry – that's what makes her such a standout leader.”

The Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute has experienced significant growth and modernization over the past few years, including new tests for wine and beer, new research capacity and new workshops for the industry.

The institute operates its own laboratory, housed in the Food Science Building, and can test for such things as acidity, sugar, percent alcohol, sulfur dioxide, acetic acid and IBUs for beer. The laboratory has recently modernized its equipment and expanded offerings to now include more than 20 different tests.

“I want to continue the mission of expanding on what we originally set out to do,” said Norton. “I think as the industry matures and we know how to make decent wine from these Iowa grapes, the next question becomes how do we go further and address more fundamental questions about grape and wine composition.”

“I think we’re just kind of going to get deeper and deeper into the subject as we go, while at the same time maintaining the same core education for those new wineries and new breweries,” she continued.

Norton looks forward to meeting and interacting with additional Iowa wine makers and grape growers, and learning more about how the institute can better serve their needs. For more information, contact the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at wine@iastate.edu or 515-294-3308.

Shareable photo: Erin Norton, director of the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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About the institute: The Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute provides resources, conducts research, and connects grape growers and winemakers to valuable information about enology and viticulture in Iowa and throughout the Midwest. In order to serve the Midwest wine and grape industry, we offer laboratory services and education and outreach programming through publications, workshops, seminars, training and direct communication.

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