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Western New York Hosts International Vineyard Mechanization Conference

Cornell’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Program has been a leader in vineyard mechanization research, and is hosting the 2nd Vineyard Mechanization Workshop in late July.

The Second International Workshop on Vineyard Mechanization and Grape and Wine Quality will be held July 26 to July 29, 2015, in Fredonia, New York.  The event is sponsored by the International Society for Horticulture Science, in conjunction with the Eastern Section of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, and follows the successful inaugural event held in Italy in 2012.  The workshop brings together international experts in grape mechanization and grape producers to report and discuss the latest research on grapevine mechanization, precision viticulture and the use of mechanization and technology to improve grape and wine quality.   Technical focus areas will include engineering advancements and mechanized tools for vineyard operations, the application of remote and proximal sensing technologies for monitoring vine performance, variable rate and zonal vineyard management for improving vineyard productivity and the economic impact of mechanized systems on fruit yield and quality.  This is the first time that the workshop will be held in the US.  Scientists and grape growers from over 20 countries are expected to participate in the event. 

Dr. Terry Bates, Research Scientist and Director of the Cornell University Lake Erie Research Center, is co-organizing the workshop.  “Grape producers in all major growing regions of the world are increasingly affected by the increased cost and reduced availability of labor” said Bates.   In addition, “Improved mechanization methods are needed to reduce the cost of production and improve grape and wine quality," Bates said.  “The future sustainability of the grape and wine industries depends on the advancement of vineyard mechanization and related technologies.”  

The three-day workshop will begin on Sunday, July 26, with a symposium to honor the late Dr. Nelson Shaulis, a long time Professor and world-renowned viticulturist from Cornell University.  Shaulis, a member of the Cornell Faculty from 1944 to 1978, was widely recognized as the preeminent viticulture scientist of his generation.  His major contributions included the design of the Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) grapevine training system, as well as the development of the mechanical grape harvester.  In 1997 Shaulis was given the Merit Award by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, the highest honor presented by the society.  “We hope to honor the memory of Dr. Shaulis and his many outstanding contributions to our industry by highlighting recent advancements in grape mechanization and precision viticulture during the symposium” said Dr. Nick Dokoozlian of E&J Gallo Winery and co-organizer of the event.  The symposium will feature leading grape mechanization scientists from throughout the world, including Dr. Stefano Poni of the University of Piacenza in Italy, and Dr. Rob Bramley of the CSIRO in Adelaide, Australia.

The symposium and workshop will be held on the campus of the State University of New York in Fredonia.  The campus is located in the heart of the Lake Erie grape growing region, consisting of over 30,000 acres of vineyards dedicated to wine and juice production.  Regional vineyard and winery tours, as well as wine tastings and evening social events, are planned.   Fees for the three-day workshop, including the Shaulis Symposium, are $515 per person for ISHS members and $600 per person for non-ISHS members, when registered prior to June 19, 2015.  Registration fees increase to $565 (ISHS members) /$650 (non-ISHS members) following June 19, 2015.  Registration fees include a copy of the full symposium proceedings as well as lunches, dinners and social events associated with the three-day workshop.  A single day registration fee for the Shaulis Symposium is available for $150 (prior to June 19) and $175 (after June 19) and includes lunch and dinner.