New York-Based Viticultural Pioneer Dies

Jan 20, 2000

Nelson Shaulis, whose development of a new vine-trellising method transformed vineyards around the world, died on Jan. 15. He was 86.

A professor of viticulture at Cornell University, Shaulis worked at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., where he also lived, from 1944 to 1978. He was widely known as an expert on canopy management, studying all vine growth above the soil for ways to improve grape quality and cut down on vine diseases.

While conducting grapegrowing experiments in the Finger Lakes wine region, Shaulis designed a vine-training system known as the Geneva Double Curtain, which increases the yields from vines and improves grape quality. His method allows more sunlight to reach the vines' leaves by training the vines to split into two canopies, supported on wires. First tested in 1960, the trellising technique has been adopted around the world, most extensively in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Shaulis is survived by two daughters, Catherine Shaulis-Santomartino and Margaret Harty. His wife, Lillian, died in 1996.

Friends may make contributions to the Nelson J. Shaulis Fund for the Advancement of Viticulture, c/o Mr. John Murphy, Cornell University Foundation, 102 Prospect Street, Ithaca, NY 14850, or to the Zion Lutheran Church Mission Endowment Fund, 18 Snell Road, Geneva, NY 14456.

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