Michigan 2016 Wine Grape Vineyard Establishment Conference announced

The February 2016 Wine Grape Vineyard Establishment Conference will provide essential elements for those exploring entry into Michigan’s expanding winery industry.

Planting grapes at the Michigan State University Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center.

Planting grapes at the Michigan State University Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center.

The Michigan winery industry, valued at $286 million in 2005 with 45 wineries (MKF Research 2005), has grown to nearly 120 wineries today. While the state’s wine grape acreage increased from 1,500 in 2003 to 2,850 in 2014 (USDA 2004, 2014), the Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council looks to reach 10,000 acres by 2024.

Many existing fruit growers and new entrants to agriculture regard Michigan’s wine industry as a growth business. About 70 percent of participants in the 2015 Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council Winery Development pre-conference indicate that they will start wineries, and invest $3.0-8.5 million in real estate, vineyards, and related expenses by 2017.

A wine grape establishment conference will be held by Michigan State University Extension Feb. 5, 2016 at two locations using a webinar hybrid format to address this interest. The program agenda calls for speakers from four states to address basic topics such as soil fertility, site selection, varieties, establishment costs, site preparation, planting and care, trellis construction, and pest management in Benton Harbor and Traverse City. The detailed agenda and registration information may be found online.

One hundred percent of those participating in the 2014 Wine Grape Vineyard Establishment Conference would recommend it to others. Over 80 percent of participants indicated that the conference helped them with educational resources, variety selection, grape training, site preparation, trellis construction, and pest management.

The registration fee is $100 for the basic conference and $30 for the optional bulletin package. Space is limited, so pre-registration and payment is required by Jan. 28, 2016. 

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