Christopher C. L. Chen

Integrated Vineyard Systems Advisor
Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties
University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources

My name is Christopher Chen, and I was hired in January 2021 as the University of California Cooperative Extension Integrated Vineyard Systems Advisor for Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake counties. My background in agricultural and plant sciences began at UC Davis while pursuing a double-major bachelor’s degree in horticulture/agronomy and economics. During this time, I was exposed to California plant identification and taxonomy, plant physiology, principles of soil science, statistical analysis of data, and techniques and practices in general agricultural. Upon graduating with a B.S. in Agronomy and a B.A. in Economics I continued at UC Davis to pursue a Master of Science degree in agronomy with specialization in viticulture followed by a Ph.D. in the same discipline. Throughout the past six years of graduate studies, I have focused solely on viticulture research and practices at the University of California Davis. While in the master’s program at UC Davis, I researched the efficacy of shade nets as heat-damage reduction tools for wine grapes at the UC Oakville Research Station in Napa Valley. Throughout this period, I also assisted in numerous field-based projects across California ranging from Delano and Paso Robles to Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. During my doctoral degree I tested the salinity tolerance of wild and cultivated grapevine rootstocks stored at the UC Davis germplasm collection. In 2021, I graduated with a Ph.D. in Horticulture and Agronomy with specialization in Viticulture.

The interest I have in grapevines stems from both scientific curiosity and a personal appreciation. To me, vineyards are one of the most aesthetically appealing cropping systems we have developed. The long and intertwined history of wine and humanity is entrenched in societies around the world and is a study in cross species development. My scientific interests with grapevines are related to abiotic stress tolerance, particularly with respect to excess heat and extended drought. However, the persistent and underlying goal for my projects is to investigate topics that are practically useful to wine grape growers and to put out quality work for UC ANR. In my personal life I greatly enjoy venturing across California seeking out excellent hikes and playing
guitar during my down time. My five-year old Australian Shepherd is a great companion for my outdoor adventures, and we are typically accompanied by
my partner.

During my time involved with the wine and grape industry I have enjoyed meeting and speaking with many experienced and knowledgeable professionals. I’ve learned that talking with the people that do the work is the best way to learn about any industry. Through my training and studies at UC Davis I have gained the background knowledge and terminology to continue learning new concepts and practices in viticulture. However, there is always more to learn. I am looking forward to learning from experts in my counties and collaborating with people and organizations excited to learn more. As the newly hired UCCE vineyard advisor for Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties I hope to receive many good suggestions to develop my program in the region. I would like to hear from as many growers and industry professionals as possible about what they would like to see my program develop into. Starting in a new role is always a challenge, but I am thankful to have the advice and guidance of experienced extension advisors as I introduce myself and begin to develop connections in and around northern California.

I am excited to meet the community members and organizations that make this region of California great. Please look out for newsletters and events through UC ANR. If you are interested in receiving newsletters from UCCE on vineyard related topics or would like to chat, you can contact me via email at: and I will help however I can.

Christopher Chen
UC Cooperative Extension Advisor
Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties


Ph.D., University of California, Davis; September 2021
    Major: Horticulture and Agronomy
    Specialization: Viticulture and Enology

M.Sc., University of California, Davis; June 2018
    Major: Horticulture and Agronomy
    Specialization: Viticulture and Enology

B.Sc., B.A., University of California, Davis; June 2016
    Major #1: Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry
    Major #2: Economics


Abiotic stress responses and water use efficiency of agricultural and ornamental crops through the
study of stress tolerance, genotypic expression, breeding programs and management practices.


Ph.D. Candidate
  Department of Viticulture & Enology
  University of California, Davis
  June 2018 - September 2021
  Supervisor: Dr. M. Andrew Walker
    Research focused on elucidating mechanisms of sodium chloride tolerance in Vitis spp. and development of rootstock breeding methods for rapid and
    quantitative screening of many collections of novel genetic material for salt-tolerant phenotypes in large populations. Responsibility for own progress
    with regular reporting to supervisors.

      Ⅰ.  Collected data from self-designed experiments for purpose of developing breeding
           methodology for salt-tolerance screening procedures:

         • Experimental Design and Setup
         • Applicable Instrumentation and Applied Understanding of Theoretical Concepts
         • Treatment Application and Sample collection
         • Sample Processing

      Ⅱ.  Generation of data through laboratory analysis, and/or the process of:

         • Silver-Ion Titration
         • Determination of chloride concentrations in different plant tissues
         • Scanning Electron Microscopy for Subcellular Differentiation

      Ⅲ.  Exposure and/or further experience with:

         • Plant propagation from hardwood and herbaceous cuttings
         • Statistical data analysis using R
         • Proper experimental design and maintenance
         • Sample preparation for complex analyses
         • Viticultural management practices
         • Vineyard design and maintenance

Graduate Student Researcher
  Department of Viticulture & Enology
  University of California, Davis
  June 2016 - June 2018
  Supervisor: Dr. Sahaap Kaan Kurtural
    Independent and cooperative research focused on abiotic stress responses in Vitis vinifera and mechanization of commercial wine grape
    vineyards of several premier viticulture regions in California. Organized and participated in field and laboratory work to analyze and
    determine effects of differing, scientific treatments on wine grape yield and quality.

      Ⅰ.  Collected industry-standard data from field trials for, but not limited to:

         • Crop coefficients, Vine water status, Irrigation scheduling
         • NDVI, Crop Sensing and Imaging, Site logistics
         • Berry sampling for quality, Yield predictions and Final yield

      Ⅱ.  Generation of data through laboratory analysis, and/or the process of:

         • Berry phenolic: biosynthesis, composition, and temporal development
         • Determination of quality and concentration of flavonoid classes.
         • Small-batch, experimental wine making

      Ⅲ.  Exposure and/or further experience with:

         • Basic statistical data analysis using R
         • Proper experimental design and maintenance
         • NDVI and Crop Sensing
         • Harvest of wine-grapes
         • Basic management practices of viticulture

Student Research Assistant
  Department of Plant Sciences
  University of California, Davis
  January, 2014 - June, 2016
  Supervisor: Dr. Valerie T. Eviner
    Research assistant position focused on understanding plant and soil community responses to climate change, grazing &management and nutrient
    availability in California annual grasslands.

      • Performed plant-soil processing methods including root extraction, biomass
       sampling and seed sorting.

      • Experience operating specialized ecological processing equipment and seed
       imaging software WinSeedle.

      •Knowledgeable in ecological field sampling methodology including California
        grassland species identification and vegetation surveys.

      •Performed data analysis using JMP statistical software.

      •Trained supervisors on seed imaging software procedures.

Project Assistant
  Department of Plant Sciences
  University of California, Merced
  April 2015 - July 2015
  Supervisor: Erin Dickman
    Assisted with Master degree thesis research investigating physiological adaptations over four decades to climate change in cut-leaf
    monkey flower in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

      • Independently monitored monkey flower growth experiment recording regular
       phenotypic measurements.

      • Communicated results to supervisor via bi-monthly meetings.

      • Performed regular maintenance and monitoring of greenhouse experiment,
       including watering, segregation, and pruning.

      • Experience troubleshooting and problem solving in experimental greenhouse settings.

Research Internship
  Department of Plant Sciences
  University of California, Davis
  January 2015 - March 2015
  Supervisors: Dr. Valerie T. Eviner, Joanne Heraty
    Collaborated and developed independent internship project analyzing litter removal and accumulation post-drought in Californian grasslands.

      • Collected regular above and belowground biomass measurements in-field.

      • Surveyed and identified vegetation using Daubenmire classifications.

      • Researched and maintained records of precipitation and temperature events for analysis.

      • Used statistical software package JMP to analyze results.

      • Communicated findings to supervisors.


Integrated Vineyard Systems Advisor
  Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake Counties
  University of California, ANR
  January 2022 - Current
    Serve as the vineyard farm advisor for Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties of northern California. University of California Cooperative
    Extension outreach and research.

      • Organize outreach events and materials for grape growers in northern California

      • Conduct research in sustainable vineyard design and management; drought focused

      • Engaging and educating the grower community in up-to-date research advancements

Graduate Studies Admissions Committee Member
  Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group
  University of California, Davis
  January 2020 - April 2020
    Student committee member representing graduate student opinions on new applicants to the horticulture and agronomy graduate group; served in
    conjunction with faculty committee members.

      • Socratic discussion with committee members on merit of new applicants

      • Review and commentary on applications of potential students

      • Overall referral to admit, deny, or reapply for each applicant

Resident Advisor
  Student Housing Services
  University of California, Davis
  September 2013- June 2014
    In-house advisor position responsible for facility management, resident welfare and safety, community building and resource referrals.

      • Trained in emergency response, safety.

      • Experience in conflict resolution, incident reporting, new resident resource referrals.

Orientation Leader
  Student Housing Services
  University of California, Davis
  May 2013- August 2013
    Organized and led orientation geared towards new student graduation requirements, UC system resources and class registration navigation.

      • Experience performing academic advising, conflict resolution, communicating
       information to a large audience.

Peer Reviewed Publications

Valenzuela F., Reineke D., Leventini D., Chen C., Barrett-Lennard E., Colmer T., Dodd I., Shabala S., Brown P., Bazihizina N. (2022). Plant responses to heterogeneous salinity: agronomic relevance and research priorities. Ann Bot.

Link: Valenzuela et al. 2022 - Publication

Martínez-Lüscher, J., Chen, C. C. L., Brillante, L., & Kurtural, S. K. (2020). Mitigating Heat Wave and Exposure Damage to 'Cabernet Sauvignon' Wine Grape with Partial Shading Under Two Irrigation Amounts. Frontiers in Plant Science, Frontiers in Plant Science , Vol. 11, p. 1760. Retrieved from

Link: Martínez-Lüscher et al. 2020 - Publication

Martínez-Lüscher, J., Chen, C. C. L., Brillante, L., & Kurtural, S. K. (2017). Partial Solar Radiation Exclusion with Color Shade Nets Reduces the Degradation of Organic Acids and Flavonoids of Grape Berry (Vitis vinifera L.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 65(49), 10693‐10702.

Link: Martínez-Lüscher et al. 2017 - Publication

Presentations & Posters

Chen, C. C. L., Romero, N., & Walker, M. A. (2019). Rapid Screening for Salt-stress Tolerance Through Chloride-Ion Accumulation in Leaves of Wild Vitis Spp. Rootstocks. American Society for Enology and Viticulture (2019).

Link: Chen et al. 2018 - ASEV Conference Poster

Chen, C. C. L., Brillante, L., & Kurtural, S. K. (2018). Partial Solar Radiation Exclusion, Not Applied Water Amounts Mitigate Berry Flavonoid Content and Organic Acids in Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) Berry. American Society for Enology and Viticulture (2018).

Link: Chen et al. 2018 - ASEV Conference Poster

Chen, C. C. L., Martínez-Lüscher, J., Brillante, L., & Kurtural, S. K. (2017). Shifts in Proanthocyanidin Composition of Cabernet Sauvingon is Modulated by Selective Cluster Shading and Water Deficits. American Society for Enology and Viticulture (2017).

Link: Chen et al. 2017 - ASEV Conference Poster

Popular Articles

Chen, C. C. L., Wine Without Water strategies for farming grapes in California drought

Link: Wine Without Water (UC ANR - January 2022) - Newsletter

Videos and Media

Chen, C. C. L., Youtube Channel

Link: Introductions to Viticulture - Youtube

Skills and Coursework


SkillTrained byYear Trained
Basic ProgrammingSelf2016-current
Data AnalysisDr. E. Laca; and Self2017
Document ProcessingDr. J. Martínez-Lüscher2017
Laboratory ProcessesDr. J. Martínez-Lüscher2017-2020
Experimental DesignDr. D. Runcie2017
Grapevine IdentificationDr. M.A. Walker2018-2020
Grapevine Pests/DiseasesDr. M.A. Walker2018-2020
Presenting and OutreachSelf2016-current

Relevant Coursework
University of California Davis

CourseInstructorYear Taken
StatisticsDr. E. Anderes2013
Plant PhysiologyDr. M. Marrush2014
Statistical EconomicsDr. M. Siegler2014
Plant PropagationDr. R. Evans2014
Plant PathologyDr. B. Falk2014
Urban IrrigationDr. M. Grismer2015
Woody Plant ManagementDr. A. Volder2015
Natural Resource EconomicsDr. C. Lin2015
Population GeneticsDr. D. Neale2016
Plant EcologyDr. M. Rejmanek2016
Plant GeneticsDr. P. Gepts2016
Soil Science PrinciplesDr. R. Southard2016
Pest ManagementDr. L. Godfrey2016
Experimental Design in RDr. D. Runcie2017
Sustainable Vineyard DevelopmentDr. D. Smart2017
Multivariate ModelingDr. E. Laca2017
Soil PhysicsDr. M.M. Kandelous2018
Soil ChemistryDr. S. Parikh2019
Plant Mineral NutritionDr. P. Brown2019


Links to Certifications
Online Trainings

>LaTeX Training (online): Certification.

>R: ggplot2 (online): Certification.

>R: statistics intensive (online): Certification.

>R: Leaflet (interactive mapping) (online): Certification.

>R: basics (online): Certification.


> Curriculum Vitae (online): Document.