By Chris Gerling
Statewide Enology Extension Associate, Dept. of Food Science and Technology
New York State Agricultural Experiment Station
Hundreds of members of the eastern grape and wine industry descended on the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, February 17-19, for Viticulture 2010, a statewide conference and trade show covering topics in viticulture, enology and juice processing as well as economics and marketing. This year's meeting brought participants from 25 states and speakers from around the world to talk about issues ranging from perennial production challenges to the most recent developments in research, technology, and government policy.
The conference kicked off with the popular "Big Picture" session exploring current trends in grape, juice, and wine markets. Industry leaders from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the Nielson Company, Constellation Wine North America, the Wine Market Council, and National Grape Cooperative explored the industry's economic impact, market trends, and outlook for wine and juice production. The morning then continued with a session on the world of Riesling, and a "Riesling Reverie" lunch that featured Rieslings from around the world. Wednesday afternoon was broken into four programs covering marketing to millennials, current regulations with the Federal Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau, regional and varietal branding strategies, and issues relating to Concord production.
Thursday morning featured talks about winery/grower relations and the impact of climate change on vineyard sites and practices. As in previous conventions, a half-day of the program was devoted to the trade show, providing growers the opportunity to talk with representatives of companies ranging from Farm Credit and Insurance to Wine Packing and everything in between, without missing any talks. The main hall of the Rochester Convention Center was filled to overflowing with over 70 exhibitors providing attendees a chance to see the latest advances in equipment for both the vineyard and the winery. For some attendees, the trade show is the highpoint of the program, as regional grape program conferences are unable to match the number and diversity of exhibitors—not to mention the amount of equipment that was on display.
Friday was filled to the brim with sessions focusing on viticulture, enology, marketing, sustainability and distillation. In the morning, viticulture tracks addressed vineyard practices to improve fruit quality, disease management and spray technology, and insect management using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques. The enology sessions dealt with an introduction to phenolics and Cornell research updates. There were also tracks focusing on incentives and options for going green at the winery and the current political climate for the wine industry both statewide and nationally. In the afternoon, viticulture topics included sustainability, vineyard mechanization, and crop insurance. Enology tracks featured a first-ever artisan distillation workshop, continued discussion of phenolic extraction and tannin addition, and a wine-flaw identification session. The day was capped with a lively discussion on the topic of wine sales in grocery stores.
Viticulture 2010 was a collaborative effort between the wine and grape industry and Cornell Cooperative Extension. The New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the New York Wine Grape Growers, and National Grape Cooperative all played a major role in planning and organizing the conference. Additionally, the Lake Erie and Finger Lakes grape programs and the statewide extension enology and viticulture programs also cooperated to bring Vit 2010 to life. Special thanks are due to Vit 2010 chairman Jim Bedient, trade show chair Tim Moore, and program chairs Hans Walter-Peterson and Anna Katharine Mansfield.