Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) has added to its robust network of grape and wine experts by welcoming José Ramón Úrbez-Torres as a CCOVI Professional Affiliate and Assistant Professor Joachim Scholz as a CCOVI Fellow.
Úrbez-Torres, who joined CCOVI this past summer, is a Research Scientist at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Summerland Research and Development Centre in British Columbia. He also serves as Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus.
Scholz, who joined the CCOVI team last year, is a leading augmented reality researcher, marketing expert and Goodman School of Business Assistant Professor in Marketing, International Business and Strategy.
CCOVI relies on a multi-disciplinary team approach to address the priorities of the Canadian grape and wine industry. In addition to its core researchers at Brock, the Institute also utilizes the skills and knowledge of affiliated researchers outside of the University in academia, government and the private sector who present their findings at public seminars and workshops for students and the industry throughout the year.
Úrbez-Torres said he is “filled with pride to now be officially chosen as part of the ‘CCOVI family.’”
“This is a great honour for me,” he added. “As a scientist conducting research on grapevines, one always wants to be part of and contribute to the best and most recognized grapevine research institutions — and CCOVI is definitely one of the top in world.”
Úrbez-Torres, whose area of expertise is in plant pathology, said the appointment at CCOVI provides a great opportunity to collaboratively advance and expand on the work he is conducting on national grape and wine industry priorities in the areas of grapevine trunk diseases, virus diseases, fungicide resistance and sustainable management of grapevine diseases.
“British Columbia and Ontario have very different environmental conditions in which to grow grapes, with both regions having specific but also common challenges,” he said. “Therefore, this is a great opportunity for me to exchange research findings and work with scientists at CCOVI to provide solutions for some of those challenges.”
Scholz’s research specializes in augmented reality marketing, social media controversies, and branding in digitally-infused and hyperconnected societies. He has also been named as the CCOVI Research Scholar and will collaborate with core researchers on consumer behaviour research, including potential opportunities to work in the new augmented reality, virtual reality and sensory reality consumer laboratory at Brock.
“I have been fascinated by augmented reality (AR) for years, especially with how this new technology can be used to tell brand stories and create amazing customer experiences,” he said.
Although the wine industry has provided some early examples of how successful AR can be to connect with customers, Scholz said that much of the academic research to date has been focused on creating three-dimensional visualizations of products (such as shoes or sunglasses, for example), rather than creating “branded experiences.”
“Once you get into telling a brand story, rather than just simply showing a product, you have a lot more options of how to design augmented reality content,” he explained. “Currently, I explore how to conceptualize these different options and what different types of AR they represent. Once it is safe to conduct studies in the lab again, we can empirically test the effect these different AR types have on consumers.”
Those studies would allow marketers, winemakers and AR creatives to make more informed decisions and leverage the technology more effectively, he added.
“The CCOVI lab is a tremendous opportunity to explore the best practices around using AR on wine labels, which will help winemakers in the Niagara region and around the world,” he said.