Commercial Wine Production and Grape Growers Workshop Is Nov. 15 in Southern Ohio

Ohio State University research has been key to the growth of Ohio's rapidly expanding grape and wine industries.

PIKETON, Ohio – Wine grape growers, commercial wine operators, and those interested in becoming either one can learn the practical and essential skills needed to be successful in the industry at a workshop held by Ohio State University horticulture, viticulture and enology experts Nov. 15. 

The program is from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the OSU South Centers’ Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, in Piketon.

The workshop is designed to help growers and winemakers, as well as to boost Ohio's wine industry, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at OSU South Centers at Piketon.

“It’s good for grape growers to talk to winemakers, because you have to have good fruit in order to make good wine, so it’s good to get them together in the same classroom,” he said. “This workshop is great for people in the business or those who want to get into the business.”

Researchers with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) will conduct the workshop, which will include information on the basics of grapevine propagation techniques; vineyard management; sensory evaluation of wines; critical aspects of white and red wine production; and identification of new invasive pests in Ohio.

Focus will also be on grafting techniques, how to improve fruit quality through pruning and leaf removal, and how to manage insects and diseases, Gao said.

“Participants will also get an introduction to winemaking 101, including the fundamentals of wine production,” he said.

The workshop will include a sensory evaluation of Ohio wines, including aroma, acid and taste, Gao said, including some new wines and varieties as well as some popular wines.

“Wine is a combination of art and science,” he said. “On the science side, you have to focus on acid and sugar levels and other technical things.

“But on the artistic side, you have to use your nose and taste buds to know what is good and what is missing. This program is designed to help people learn that art and science.”

Ohio’s wine industry has seen significant growth in recent years. In fact, the number of Ohio wineries has nearly doubled since 1997. And during the last 10 years, Ohio’s wine industry has grown significantly, said David T. Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

According to its 2008 Economic Impact report, Ohio’s grape and wine industry generates more than $580 million in economic activity that supports local communities while producing a superior agricultural product. The Ohio grape and wine industry also employs more than 4,100 people, providing a payroll of $124.2 million, Daniels said.

The workshop will also include an overview of the challenges growers have faced with this year's weather conditions, Gao said.

“It’s been a very rough year for a lot of growers, from the early freezes and frosts in the spring to the record-breaking heat and drought conditions felt throughout the summer,” he said. “In addition, some growers also got hit with high winds and hail.”

Registration for the workshop is $20 and includes the program, handouts, lunch and refreshments. Contact Jennifer Warfe at 740-289-2071 to register. The deadline to register is Nov. 12.

“We are very grateful for the strong financial support of the Ohio Grape Industries Program for our research and extension programs,” Gao said. 

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Gary Gao
740-289-2071, ext. 123