2014 Conference Program
The 2015 Conference Program will be updated in September. Please return then for more details.
Dedicated to providing members of the Eastern wine and grape industries with relevant, practical and valuable information to further their product quality and business success.
The 2014 conference program is outlined in the 2014 Conference Sessions section below. Highlights of the program include:
- Solutions to current issues in Eastern viticulture, from the grape supply to frost damage and more
- New technology sessions for enology and viticulture
- Spotlight on social media: setting and achieving sales & marketing goals
- Two enology sessions for better bordeaux blends
- One session bringing focus to wine flaws
- Two half-day workshops featuring distillation and direct-to-consumer marketing
- Four industry newcomer sessions
- 90% new conference speakers and 100% fresh topics
- A variety of registration options for any professional budget
- 18 state and industry associations offering conference registration discounts to their members
2014 Conference Sessions
Conference sessions are listed in order by track: Enology, Money/Management/Marketing, Newcomer, Viticulture, and Half-Day Workshops.
TUESDAY, MARCH 4 & WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5
E01 | Optimal Use of Tannin Additions
E02 | Wine Flaw Focus: the Reduction-Oxidation Spectrum
E03 | Better Bordeaux Blends I: Through Fermentation
E04 | Better Bordeaux Blends II: Post Fermentation
E05 | New Research: Improving the Sensitivity of MLF Paper Chromatography
E06 | Wild Card Wines
Money / Management / Marketing
M01 | The Medium is the Massage I: Setting & Achieving Marketing & Sales Goals with Social Media Tools
M02 | The Medium is the Massage II: Getting Current with Social Media and Getting Found
M03 | Starting a Small Winery
M04 | Cost Accounting: Defining the Real Cost of Production
Newcomers to the Business
N01 | Lab Testing Cost Analysis: In-House or Outsource?
N02 | Cold Stabilization: Reducing Time & Energy Costs
N03 | Are You (Really) Ready to Start a Vineyard?
M03 | Starting a Small Winery
V01 | Panel: How Do We Grow the Grape Supply?
V02 | Grape-Based Challenges to a Healthy Wine Industry in the Mid-Atlantic
V03 | Panel: Products for Reducing Frost Damage
V04 | Reducing Bunch Rot by Changing Cluster Architecture
V05 | Climate Change and Viticulture Sustainability in the East
V06 | New Research I: Optimizing N Applications for Cover Cropped Sites / SWD Fruit Fly Update
V07 | New Research II: UAVs (Drones) in the Vineyard and Use of New Bird Deterrents in Vineyards
N03 | Are You (Really) Ready to Start a Vineyard?
Richard Leahy has organized major wine industry conference seminar programs from Pennsylvania to Minnesota since 1997, and has been writing about wines of Virginia and the East since 1986. In 2007 he organized the Virginia Wine Experience in London which brought the top 64 Virginia wines there for leading British wine media and trade to taste. He was a regional editor for Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide, and was Mid-Atlantic and Southern Editor for the Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America. He was East Coast Editor of Vineyard & Winery Management for over ten years. He is a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the Circle of Wine Writers. Richard’s book on Virginia wine, Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, was published in June 2012 by Sterling Publishing. He also has a website and blog focused on wines of the East at www.richardleahy.com/blog.
Program Advisory Board
- Tim Benedict, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, East Coast Crush and Co-Pack
- Mark Chien, Penn State, Pennsylvania
- Jerry Forest, Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Pennsylvania
- Denise Gardner, Penn State, Pennsylvania
- Patty Held, Patty Held Consulting, Missouri
- Doug Moorhead, Presque Isle Wine Cellars, Pennsylvania
- Lucie Morton, Lucie Morton Consulting, Virginia
- Peter Oldak, Jewell Towne Vineyards, NH
- Tom Payette, Tom Payette Wine Consulting, Virginia
- Brian Roeder, Barrel Oak Winery, Virginia
E01 Optimal Use of Tannin Additions
Tannins Additions to Red Hybrids
Tannins serve a number of purposes in wine, from anti-oxidant to color stabilizer. They increase the sensation of texture and add to the overall complexity of the wine. Many wines made from hybrid grapes, especially those grown in cool or short season climates, show a lack of tannin. Enological tannins from grape and/or wood sources are often used to make up for this deficiency and balance the wine. This talk covers the different types of enological tannins, their use, and the timing of additions. Mention will also be made of new research aimed specifically at hybrid grapes and how this new knowledge will help to differentiate hybrids from vinifera while potentially increasing the effectiveness of tannin additions.
E02 Wine Flaw Focus: the Reduction-Oxidation Spectrum
Some of the most common wine flaws associated with commercial wines include problems with sulfur and oxidation. Although winemakers often use the word sulfur to denote a series of wine flaws (including hydrogen sulfide, reduction, mercaptans, and high free sulfur dioxide), it is better practice to understand each flaw that sulfur may contribute to wine. Additionally, identifying the proper sulfur-based wine flaw encourages better communication among wine professionals. Oxidation, often associated with poor oxygen management through wine processing, is another common wine flaw found in large and small commercial productions. This session will focus on these common wine problems and how to manage them in the winery. Winemakers, winery personnel, and tasting room employees are encouraged to attend. A series of wines will be included for sensory analysis.
E03 Better Bordeaux Blends I: Through Fermentation
Matthieu Finot, John Levenberg, Kareem Massoud, Tom Payette
Bordeaux Blends are an important category of Eastern red wines and quality has improved remarkably in the last decade. This two-part session will feature a panel of experienced Eastern winemakers who will explain their current processing regimen for red Bordeaux blends, and how their approach has changed in the last ten years and why, with specific examples. The first session will cover harvest protocols, pre-fermentation must treatment and fermentation. The second session will cover all post-fermentation processing from extended maceration, elevage, blending, and post-blending aging in barrel and bottle.
E04 Better Bordeaux Blends II: Post Fermentation
Matthieu Finot, John Levenberg, Kareem Massoud, Tom Payette
In part two of this two-part session (see E03), three winemakers will cover post-fermentation processing, from extended maceration, elevage, and blending to post-blending aging in barrel and bottle. Winemakers will compare current regimens with what they did ten years ago and explain the reasons for changes. They will also pour samples of their finished blends.
E05 New Research: Improving the Sensitivity of MLF Paper Chromatography
Dr. Barry Gump
The use of paper chromatography to monitor the progress of a Malo-Lactic fermentation (MLF) is a common practice. Using this separation technique malic acid is separated from other wine acids and the absence of a malic acid spot is used to indicate the completion of the MLF. Unfortunately, visual resolution for malic acid is reported to limit at approximately 100 mg/L, and winemakers may well prefer a level of 15 to 30 mg/L of malic acid in order to consider their wine “safe”. Sensitivity improvement techniques described in this presentation include (1) the technique of applying multiple samples to the same spot, using a hair drier to keep spots compact, (2) the use of alternative indicators, and (3) the use of Ammonia vapor to improve the contrast between the acid spots and the bromcresol background color of the chromatogram in the standard method.
E06 Wild Card Wines
Scott Bubb, Ken Hardcastle, Nathan Vrooman
This session showcases three winemakers making original wines that cross the categories normally separating sparkling, still, grape, fruit or mead wines. The results show the versatility possible with Eastern wines, and the opportunity to offer new and original products to consumers.
Nathan Vrooman, Winemaker, Ankida Ridge Vineyard
“When Ankida Ridge wanted to add a different and exciting wine to its tasting line-up, they thought a Vinho Verde-style white (based on early harvest vidal blanc) would be the perfect choice. Its low cost of production, quick turnaround time, and worldwide appeal made this style of wine a wild card winner.”
Scott Bubb, Winemaker/Owner, Seven Mountains Wine Cellars
“I will briefly introduce Seven Mountains Wine Cellars. I will talk about our “All Razzed Up” (raspberry/concord) wine, how this wine is produced, showing how we process the red raspberries from whole fruit rather than juice. I will share yeast strains used and also share starting and ending acid and pH levels as well as residual sugar, production cost per bottle, retail cost, annual sales and production amounts.”
Ken Hardcastle, Winemaker, Hermit Woods Winery
“Our Melange, a melomel (fruit mead), was created to explore the potential of dark fruit and berries native to our local environment as a bold, complex, deep wine. Made entirely from local dark fruit, this vintage was crafted from wild low bush blueberries, wild foraged elderberries, blackberries, and organically raised black currants, picked at peak ripeness and frozen. Honey, corn and cane sugars are used as additional fermentables to boost alcohol and develop body. Although it has not yet been officially released, this wine has been very well received by the few customers and wine critics who have had the privilege of tasting it.”
Money / Management / Marketing
M01 The Medium is the Massage I: Setting & Achieving Marketing & Sales Goals with Social Media Tools
Kris Chislett, Kristin Heydt, Donniella Winchell with Elizabeth “E” Slater (Moderator)
The late Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement “the medium is the massage” has never been more relevant than with the rise of social media and its use by wineries to cultivate customer relationships outside distribution channels. Part one of this two-part session features three speakers with marketing expertise and wine industry experience who explain how you can achieve specific marketing and sales goals with social media.
“The return-on-investment of an effective long-term online strategy is the strengthening of your brand integrity, the benefits of which will always outweigh the perceived financial perks of a quick sale.”
“We’ll start with understanding the difference between Marketing and Sales, and getting to know the mechanics of the conversion funnel within social media. This starts with understanding the personality of your brand. Consistency with brand imaging and personality is key.”
“Content marketing is critical to your business’ future. It must be part of your online strategy to garner a top slot on any search engine’s first page. Content marketing all about setting goals which match the expectations of your potential customers.”
The session is moderated by Elizabeth “E” Slater of In Short Marketing who will also be presenting a half-day workshop on “Creating the Ultimate Direct-to-Consumer Winery Business” on Thursday, March 6, with partner Gary Finnan.
M02 The Medium is the Massage II: Getting Current with Social Media and Getting Found
Why Your Website Stinks and What You Can Do About It!
According to Kris… “make no mistake about it, the overwhelming majority of winery websites stink!” In this session, he will take a non-computer nerd approach to outline the various steps you can take to bring your website up-to-speed and effectively position and promote your business online. Using specific industry examples, he will discuss website best practices, the relevance of mobile websites, search engine optimization, general website layouts/features, and how your website can become best friends with Google.
Quit Paddling Upstream: #icanhasconversion #oldrulesareold
Imagine yourself in a canoe, just you, your life jacket, your paddle and your picnic lunch. The water is flowing briskly, and the horizon seems to be becoming more and more distant, your focus is singularly fixed on one point, and you are beginning to miss both hazards and opportunities around you. Your arms are working tirelessly, and you have a pit of hunger in your stomach, but you dare not rest for fear of sliding backward. In her discussion of Social Media and Content Marketing, Kristin will give attendees the tools to become comfortable with the flow of social media marketing while incorporating their own style, efficient paddling techniques, ways to proactively deal with hazards before they sink you, and the confidence to embrace the expanding horizons of these powerful tools. Just like each winery has its own target market, so do social media channels. Learn the basic demographics of the heavy hitters, and how to leverage their strengths to reach the best conversion rates.
M03 Starting a Small Winery
Christopher Bates, Bob Manley, Nathan Vrooman
Most Eastern wineries start small and expand organically, as they are able. This panel features successful wineries that are small to tiny, and speakers explain how they meet business and sales challenges.
“Making commercially viable wine on a small scale can be a challenge. Managing costs, space, and expectations are paramount. Ankida Ridge turned a small area of steep wooded hillside into a 1,300 square foot production facility, allowing the creation of an array of well received wines without breaking the bank.” –Nathan Vrooman
M04 Cost Accounting: Defining the Real Cost of Production
Your Biggest Cost May Not Be Knowing the Cost of Production
Putting winery cost accounting into practice will cover all the cost of production cost centers: farming costs, crush costs, production costs, bottling costs, facility costs and payroll costs. Attention will be given to the often-overlooked indirect costs and the other additional costs for the length of time different wines spend in the cellar. The basics of what it costs to produce each bottle of wine will be learned, so the correct profit margin can be determined. Various tax matters concerning production costs will also be discussed.
Newcomers to the Business
N01 Lab Testing Cost Analysis: In-House or Outsource?
Tom will cover crucial costing information, by considering what “normal” winery lab testing costs should be, and how to determine whether to outsource to an outside lab or to run the tests in-house. He will compare costs, factoring in time and expertise, so that you can determine what the best route is for your winery, both financially and for success.
N02 Cold Stabilization: Reducing Time & Energy Costs
Discussions from Tom will center around: What is the Cold Stabilization process? How was it performed in years past? What is being done now with great success. What is the future? Tom will explain, in depth, a proven cold stabilization process that achieves true tartrate stability at a reasonable cost.
N03 Are You (Really) Ready to Start a Vineyard?
This talk is for anyone who is considering planting a vineyard. Joyce will give an overview of the basic components and considerations for developing a successful vineyard project; including site evaluation, business planning, design of the vineyard and the site, implementation of your plan and initial vineyard management. Joyce will also suggest resources for further information.
V01 Panel: How Do We Grow the Grape Supply?
Panelists: Tom Kelly, VA Vineyards Association, Dr. Gary Pavlis, Rutgers
Tom will provide an overview of the state of the Virginia industry as it relates to growing the grape supply – where we are, how we got here, and where we’re headed – and will relate current strategies for addressing the problem.
Dr. Gary C. Pavlis
As a county agricultural agent with Rutgers University for the past 29 years I have consulted and worked with new and established grape growers and I believe that it is my responsibility to disseminate as much cutting-edge information as possible. There are realities of growing grapes in the Mid-Atlantic that must be realized and dealt with or failure is inevitable. Cold winters, spring frosts, a multitude of fungal diseases, deer grazing, bird depredation, neo-prohibitionist neighbors and government regulations are problems that the wide-eyed passionate grape grower must realize are a reality of the business. And this is a business! The idea is to make money, so knowing what it takes financially to get into it and stay in it is critical. I plan to cover some of these realities and share how we in New Jersey are initiating vineyard growth.
V02 Grape-Based Challenges to a Healthy Wine Industry in the Mid-Atlantic
As the Eastern American industry grows and matures, it has become clear that there is a large base of customers who will support their local wineries. Wineries have become favored places for social gatherings and events creating attractive “value-added” profit centers. By contrast, vineyard development here is lagging behind the creation of new wineries. Why is this? Bottom line is that grape growing by itself in the East does not represent a reliable revenue generator. Of course vineyards do provide authenticity and scenic beauty. To have truly local wine, you must have local vineyards! In this talk we will look at the challenges facing growers in the East and approaches to meeting those challenges.
V03 Panel: Products for Reducing Frost Damage
John Burns, Steve Hammersmith, Andy Shores
Widespread freeze damage in spring 2013 makes this topic both timely and relevant. Growers John Burns and Andy Shores will discuss their use of the Agro-K product KDL and its effect on freeze damage prevention, while Steve Hammersmith of Shur-Farm explains the dynamics of cold air and frost events, and the benefits of his wind machine.
Cold air accumulation is the cause of frost in a vineyard. The main focus of the session is to discuss specific techniques, both passive and active, to identify and control cold air streamlines coming into and exiting the vineyard and identify potential frost pockets in order to act to avoid or mitigate the potential for cold air accumulation. The growers will go away with an understanding of the process and a working knowledge to immediately apply some of these techniques in their own vineyards. Mitigating or eliminating cold air fluxes in a vineyard will have an immediate and permanent effect to lessen the frequency and severity of any frost event.
V04 Reducing Bunch Rot by Changing Cluster Architecture
Dr. Dennis Culver
In winegrapes (seeded), a foliar application of gibberellic acid early in the season when flower bunches are 1-2″ in length is known to stretch bunches by elongating cells. However, the side effect of poor fruit bud formation the following year has historically made this application unattractive. Another PGR has also been shown to accomplish bunch-stretching by its application as a foliar. That PGR is cytokinin. Cytokinins accomplish this by increasing cell division rather than by elongating cells and there are no negative side effects that the vines experience from the application of cytokinins. AGRO-K Corp. began taking advantage of this effect several years ago by applying their proprietary seaweed extract high in cytokinins, at the critical 1-2″ flower bunch stage. By virtue of stretching the bunches, the bunches were more open which allowed better coverage with fungicide applications and better air movement through the bunches, both of which resulted in reduced disease incidence and severity.
V05 Climate Change and Viticulture Sustainability in the East
Climate change has the potential to greatly impact nearly every form of agriculture. However, history has shown that the narrow climatic zones for growing winegrapes are especially prone to variations in climate and long-term climate change. The observed warming over the last fifty years in wine regions worldwide has benefited some by creating more suitable conditions while others have been challenged by increased heat and water stress. Projections of future warming at the global, continent, and wine region scales will likely continue to have both beneficial and detrimental impacts through opening new areas to viticulture and increasing viability, or severely challenging the ability to adequately grow grapes and produce quality wine. Overall, the projected rate and magnitude of future climate change will likely bring about numerous potential impacts for the wine industry, including added pressure on increasingly scarce water supplies, additional changes in grapevine phenological timing, further disruption or alterations of balanced composition and flavor in grapes and wine, regionally-specific changes in varieties grown, necessary shifts in regional wine styles, and spatial changes in viable grape growing regions. This presentation summarizes a series of global to regional studies that examine observed climate structure, variability, and trends, along with climate model projections in relation to viticultural viability and quality issues.
V06 New Research I: Optimizing N Applications for Cover Cropped Sites / SWD Fruit Fly Update
Under-trellis cover crops are becoming more prevalent in East Coast grape growing regions, through either intentional planting or adoption as native vegetation, to minimize the potential for erosion and to help regulate grapevine size and vigor. These companion crops, however, have resulted in increased competition for soil nitrogen, leading to decreased vine nitrogen status and berry yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN). Standard nitrogen applications which have previously been successful for vines grown in the presence of an herbicide strip are often insufficient to increase vine and berry nitrogen status, due to present cover crops successfully competing for the fertilizer addition. This session will help growers determine optimal rates, materials, and timing of nitrogen fertilization in situations where companion cover crops are grown under the trellis. The potential success of traditional soil nitrogen applications and alternative methods—such as establishing leguminous cover crops, utilizing compost additions, applying foliar nitrogen, and a combination of these methods—will be discussed in detail.
Spotted wing drosophila is an invasive pest of soft-fruited plants and it aroused the interest of grape growers in our area in 2012. In 2013, spotted wing drosophila became more entrenched in vineyards in our area. Information will be presented on additional grape varieties infested, and additional geographic spread of spotted wing drosophila and African fig fly. Work has progressed on varietal differences and phenology. Some of the generalizations developed in 2012 were only partially borne out, with unexpected developments in varieties affected. We will discuss improved understanding on the periods of greatest risk.
V07 New Research II: UAVs (Drones) in the Vineyard and Use of New Bird Deterrents in Vineyards
Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Vineyards
The Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University has been working on evaluating the cold hardiness of Ontario grapevines to help vineyards avoid catastrophic losses that can occur during cold events. Researchers at CCOVI have also studied the terroir effect using geomatic technologies over the past decade. Precision Hawk (formerly WineHawk Labs) is a developer of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sensor platforms for use in agricultural applications. Their fly-and-forget UAV can be equipped with multi-spectral camera systems that can be used to monitor crops in near real-time. This technology can provide key information to the grower and research communities in terms of site variability and cold hardiness, vine health, water stress, yield and fruit quality using a flexible, data rich, UAV sensor platform.
Assessments of Bird Activity, Bird Damage and Use of New Bird Deterrents in Vineyards
Bird predation is a major threat to grape and other berry crops throughout Ontario and other areas across North America. A new bird deterrent technology prototype was trialed in the Niagara Peninsula as a potential way for controlling bird predation in a safe and effective manner. These devices were tested for their efficacy for controlling bird damage and to study their impact on bird activity in vineyards with bird species typically found in Eastern North America. The objectives of the research were to measure the measure the efficacy of this new technology for preventing bird damage with core white and red grape cultivars grown within the Niagara Peninsula, estimate bird pressure and activity at different vineyard locations within Niagara and determine any effects that the bird deterrent may have on bird activity/presence and finally improve our estimation of the level of bird damage experienced in vineyard blocks across Niagara.
W01 | Workshop: Distillation
Mike Fiore, Denise Gardner, Jason Grizzanti, Thomas Earl McKenzie
Part one of this workshop will focus on a discussion of quality issues in high-proof to be used in fortification. The second and third parts consist of panel discussions with three distillers focusing on grappa in part two and fruit brandies/liqueurs in part three. Distillers will talk about fruit selection, distillation process and equipment, and post-distillation treatment.
Distillation is often used as a means to fix wine flaws, and is often viewed as an “end-all, be-all” solution to common wine problems. However, the process of distillation and creation of distilled products does not come without its own set of production problems including the fact that some [wine] flaws can be carried over into the distillate. This talk will focus on wine flaws that can be retained in the distilled product and a look at how to improve quality of fortified products.
W02 | Workshop: Four Steps to Creating the Ultimate Direct-to-Consumer Business
Gary Finnan, Elizabeth “E” Slater
When done right, Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) is a particularly effective form of marketing for small and medium-sized wineries which lack the means to push brand recognition through high dollar advertising and promotional campaigns. DTC in the wine business is growing exponentially and wineries of all sizes understand the impact of DTC marketing on their bottom line profitability. Presenting the right Message, Product, People and Place are critical to the sustainable success of the wineries’ direct-to-consumer programs. This three-hour session will review the importance of DTC for the wine industry today and especially for small wineries, explain how to incorporate the Four Elements into the winery’s brand, and focus on how those four elements can make the most of a wine club for both the winery and its customers.
W02a | Direct-to-Consumer Post Workshop Module
Gary Finnan, Elizabeth “E” Slater
A one-hour session in which E and Gary will discuss any elements of direct-to-consumer marketing that you wish to talk about. Bring your questions with you and they will provide the answers.
Notes: This session is limited to 15 seats. W02 is a prerequisite to W02a.