Michigan Wine Grape Vineyard Establishment Conference will quench a thirst for knowledge

The January 2014 Wine Grape Vineyard Establishment Conference will provide essential elements for those exploring entry into Michigan’s expanding winery industry.

tractor creating vineyardThe Michigan winery industry, valued at $286 million in 2005 with 45 wineries, has grown to more than 100 wineries today. While the state’s wine grape acreage increased from 1,500 in 2003 to 2,650 in 2011, according to the USDA, 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. Nearly half of the participants in the 2013 Winery Development pre-conference indicated that they will start wineries, and invest $5.45-12.45 million in real estate, vineyards and related expenses by 2016. Increased grape growing knowledge was cited as a need by this audience.

A wine grape establishment conference will be held by Michigan State University Extension on Jan. 21-22, 2014 at three locations using a webinar hybrid format to address this interest. The program agenda calls for speakers from five states to address basic topics such as marketing, site selection, varieties, establishment costs, planting stock, site preparation, planting and care, trellis construction, and pest management in Benton Harbor, Traverse City and Novi. An optional informational pre-conference session will help new grape growers better understand the basics of how the plant grows, pest management concepts, soil fertility and terminology.

The registration fee is $115 for the basic conference and $25 for the pre-conference introduction. Space is limited, so pre-registration and payment is required by Jan. 10, 2014 or until full. No walk-in registrations will be accommodated.

The Wine Grape Establishment Conference is sponsored by Viticulture and Enology Science Technology Alliance (VESTA), and the MSU Product Center and the MSU Institute of Agriculture Technology.