COLUMBIA — A professor in charge of MU's viticulture program was killed in a car crash on U.S. 63 south of Turkey Creek on Saturday night.
Anthony Peccoux, 32, was hired by MU in March to help revitalize Missouri's wine and grape industry. He worked as an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources' division of plant sciences.
"He was a young scientist who was a go-getter," Ingolf Gruen, interim director of the Grape and Wine Institute at MU, said. "He believed Missouri had the genetic material, the native grapes necessary to support and allow the wine industry to survive worldwide despite global warming."
In just nine months with the university, Gruen said Peccoux had already proposed "hundreds" of research ideas and made connections with other researchers around the state and and country, including California. He had also lent his expertise to wine industry magazines and journals who asked him about the effects of this summer's drought.
Peccoux thought the ability of Missouri's grapes to survive the state's challenging climate held the answer to the future of grape-growing in unpredictable weather, Gruen said.
At around 6:35 p.m. Saturday, Peccoux was driving a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta northbound on U.S. 63 when the car ran off the right side of the road and hit a concrete culvert, according to a Missouri State Highway Patrol Report. He was transported to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Originally from Annecy in eastern France, Peccoux received a two-year degree from the Wine School of Macon-Davaye in France. He also earned his doctorate in plant physiology from the University of Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France, according to Gruen.
Peccoux specialized in the study of grapevine roots and their ability to withstand harsh conditions. Gruen said Peccoux's experience studying grape-growing in Switzerland gave him first-hand knowledge on cultivating grapes in less than ideal conditions.
Peccoux believed Missouri's wine-making industry had great potential to return to its 19th century luster and become a worldwide leader in research, Gruen said.
"He had a vision," Gruen said. "That's what made him outstanding."
Peccoux's family resides in France. No funeral arrangements have been made at this time.
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