Grape and Wine Workshop Offers New Approach to Winter Protection Techniques

VIneyard in winter. Photo: Thinkstock

PIKETON, Ohio – With temperatures dropping statewide, some of the best ways wine growers and vineyard operators can protect their crops from harsh winter weather is by using high tunnels, employing windbreaks or by selecting cold-hardy cultivars, says a small fruit crops expert with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Understanding multiple techniques for protecting wine grapes from cold weather is key for successful vineyard operations, especially in Ohio where temperatures can drop below zero for days on end in winter months, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at the Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon.

“Smart winter protection techniques will help grape growers produce a crop instead of losing fruit-producing canes in winter and possible losing vines for good,” Gao said.

New and existing grape growers and winemakers can learn more about winter protection for wine grapes during a daylong workshop conducted by university horticulture and viticulture experts.

The Commercial Grape and Wine Workshop is designed to offer growers, winemakers and vineyard producers a practical approach to operating a successful vineyard and winery, Gao said.

“Attendees will learn different ways to manage vineyards to reduce risk and to maximize profitability,” Gao said. “Winemakers will also learn practical techniques to make outstanding wine from new and existing grape cultivars.”

The workshop is Dec. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the OSU South Centers’ Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, in Piketon.

Leading the workshop will be researchers and educators with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), including Gao, viticulture outreach specialist Dave Scurlock and research assistant Ryan Slaughter.

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college. The OSU South Centers are also part of the college.

In addition to winter protection techniques, growers will learn more about sensory techniques to detect wine attributes and possible flaws, Scurlock said. Scurlock expects a good amount of interest from growers interested in planting vineyards, noting that the average vineyard in Ohio is typically five acres.

“Ohio vineyards range anywhere from 1 acre to 170 acres in size,” he said.

Topics for the workshop will include:

  • A review of the 2016 growing season
  • Innovative winemaking techniques for new and existing cultivars
  • Sensory evaluation of wines
  • Cellar analytical techniques
  • Viticulture and enology research update
  • Field tour of a new wine grape research plot under a high tunnel

Registration for the workshop is $25 and includes the program, handouts, lunch and refreshments. Contact Charissa Gardner at or 740-289-2071, ext. 132, to register or for more information. The deadline to register is Dec. 12.

For more information contact: 
Tracy Turner

Gary Gao
740-289-2071, ext. 123

Dave Scurlock