Alan Busacca, Ph.D.



Mobile: 509.592.0756

Office: 509.876.8633

Address: 109 West Poplar Street, Walla Walla, WA, 99362

Alan Busacca is known to many people around the Northwest U.S., California, and beyond as ‘Dr. Dirt’. He is a soil scientist and geologist who some years ago shifted his passion for pure research on agriculture, soil formation, and Ice Age geology toward the applied science of growing grapes for fine wine and helping others do the same.

Alan was professor of soil science, agriculture, and geology from 1982 to 2006 at Washington State University. With a growing personal and professional interest in vineyard consulting, wine grapes, and wine, Alan left WSU in 2006 to pursue a new path. Alan now lives and works in the Columbia Gorge area 70 miles east of Portland, Oregon. He co-owns Volcano Ridge Vineyard near The Dalles, Oregon and sells grapes to about 15 wineries. And he owns Heart Catcher Wines, using his estate-grown fruit to craft terroir-expressive wines.

From 2013 to mid-2014, Alan served as Director of the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College, the premier 2-year winemaking degree program in the Pacific Northwest and as General Manager of the program’s bonded winery, College Cellars.

In the consulting realm, Alan owns Vinitas Vineyard Consultants, evaluating land nationally and internationally for vineyard development, pre-purchase and pre-sale assessment of farmland, and assisting in the design of vineyards. He also serves as an expert witness across the U.S. on hydric soils for wetland litigation.

Alan now also uses his 40 years of professional experience as special advisor to Peoples Company and Agribusiness Trading Group to evaluate and market important vineyard and other agricultural lands in the Pacific Northwest.

Alan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from University of California, Santa Cruz, worked for several years as a field geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, then earned Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Science from U.C. Davis. His teaching at WSU focused on processes of soil formation, soil classification and mapping, soil resources, and world agriculture.

His research areas at WSU were soil management; the formation and properties of soils of the Pacific Northwest; and how geology and soils have shaped our agriculture and our use of natural resources; the Ice-Age geology of the Pacific Northwest; study of paleosols (ancient soils now buried deep in the windblown loess deposits of the Palouse and other areas of the world) to reconstruct past climates, climate change, and ecology of the Quaternary Period (Ice Ages). While at WSU, Alan authored or co-authored about 50 refereed articles in scientific journals, 6 book chapters, 13 field trip guidebooks, 8 symposium proceedings, 12 other publications, & 80 abstracts.