2020 Eastern Winery Exposition | Conference Program 2020

2020 EWE Conference Program

Plans are underway now for the 2021 EWE in Syracuse. The 2020 information remains in place for now for your reference.
We’ll add the 2021 details as they evolve, beginning in late Summer.


Grid of photos from 2019 Eastern Winery Exposition

Highlights of the 2020 program:

    • 35 Conference sessions & Workshop modules with the focus on Enology, Viticulture and Money/Management
    • Returning EWE Superstars: Lucie Morton, Tim Benedict, Peter Bell, Maya Hood White, and more!
    • One Full Day Workshop focusing on Climate Change and Sustainable Viticulture
    • A second Full Day Workshop on all categories of Fortified Wines
    • A third Full Day Workshop on Eco-Friendly Packaging Options
    • Emphasis on grape & wine issues, with more viticulture & enology sessions
    • Enology Focus on Lab Analysis, Large Oak Containers, Cap Management Options and Alternatives
    • Viticulture Focus on New Technology, Mechanization, and Sustainability
    • Money/Management: Compliance with the new Food Safety Modernization Act and Formula Wines
    • 30 state and industry associations offering conference registration discounts to their members

2020 EWE Workshops & Conference

EWE Workshops provide a full day exploration of a single topic. You can choose from one of the three workshops offered below in grey or cherry-pick just the sessions you want. Lunch is included.

Conference sessions are listed in the right column below in order by track: Enology, Money/Management and Viticulture. The program schedule and session descriptions in chronological order are available on the Schedule page. Speaker biographies can be found on the Speaker page.

Click on the “+” signs to expand each session.  

March 10

March 11 & 12

Workshop 1: Climate Change & Sustainable Viticulture

Climate Change & Sustainable Viticulture
As the record rainy 2018 vintage demonstrated, along with several polar vortexes in the last decade, climate change is a reality in eastern North America, and can’t be assumed to merely be an increase in heat units. This workshop explores a broad range of information including the latest data on climate change and viticulture by professor Greg Jones, comparing the benefits and disadvantages of conventional with organic and minimal-input disease management, examples of sustainable viticulture in practice, and “straight talk” on 2020 clean plant certification standards.

Greg Jones

Climate is a pervasive factor in the success of all agricultural systems, influencing whether a crop is suitable to a given region, largely controlling crop production and quality, and ultimately driving economic sustainability. Climate’s influence on agribusiness is never more evident than with viticulture and wine production where climate is arguably the most critical aspect in ripening fruit to optimum characteristics to produce a given wine style. This presentation will provide an overview of regional to global research on aspects of weather and climate that influences optimum quality and production characteristics, how climate variability influences production and quality variations, and how climate change has and will likely continue to alter the global wine region map. Particular focus will be given to the Eastern U.S.

Bryan Hed & Mizuho Nita

Controlling fungal grape diseases is always a challenge in the wet and humid climates of the Eastern U.S. Following a brief review of the major fungal grape diseases, Bryan will discuss the tools we have to combat these diseases, including a review of the conventional and organic/low impact fungicides available – what diseases they control, how best to use them, what’s new in the pipeline for 2020 – and cultural controls and practices that can reduce our dependence on fungicides. He will also cover varietal susceptibility to the various diseases and how variety impacts the sustainability of our disease management programs, especially in wet seasons. 

Using the 2018 and other wet seasons (e.g., 2009, 2013) as examples, Mizuho will discuss outcomes of his field trials conducted in VA to outline which diseases we need to be most concerned about and how to deal with them. He will also cover alternative chemical and cultural tools that can be used in conjunction with conventional chemical approaches.

Mizuho Nita

Growing wine grapes east of the Rockies is a challenging task. Humid summer environmental conditions activate many pathogens and unfortunately, many popular wine grape cultivars are susceptible to diseases endemic to our regions. Especially with organic viticulture, the number one challenge is black rot, which cannot be managed by currently available OMRI-certified materials. Mizuho will discuss and present summaries from three of his recent trials, where they examined nine different cultivars, several different fungicide regimens, and alternative approaches.

Pat Colwell & Christine Vrooman

Growing vinifera grapes, in particular the finicky grape of pinot noir, in the humid climate of the Mid-Atlantic presents many challenges, leaving environmentally sensitive growers of vinifera little to no opportunity of becoming organically certified. Though Christine and the team at Ankida Ridge have relinquished the goal of certification, they continue to maintain a high level of vine and environmental awareness, while recognizing the importance/necessity of having a crop to harvest. This pragmatic philosophy is at the heart of the French vignerons’ term, la lutte raisonnée, the reasoned struggle. Christine will discuss the protocols, practices and importance of place in successfully growing low impact vinifera vineyards and producing world class wines in a challenging region. 

Pat will cover her experience in establishing an organic vineyard and successfully growing grapes sustainably for 15 years in the Yadkin Valley (NC). This will include the rationale for site selection and layout, varietal and trellis system selection, pest management approaches, and pruning and amendment practices. She will also discuss sustainability actions she has taken such as solar for energy, heat and hot water. 

This session is for both new and established growers who are looking for a way to practice more sustainable, environmentally sensitive viticulture in the East and to grow grapes capable of producing wines of distinction.

Lucie Morton & Dennis Rak

Through the work of the National Clean Plant program, efforts have been made to make virus-tested plant material available to the grape industry. In the Eastern U.S., New York State has instituted a certification program to help fulfill this aim. Dennis will give an update on the status of the program and the availability of virus certified grape material for Eastern Growers. Lucie will outline the other factors beyond viruses that growers need to be aware of including graft union integrity and fungal infections.

Workshop 2: Fortified Wines

Fortified Wines
Regional wineries across the U.S. have found fortified wines to be a fun category for consumers and financially rewarding for producers. This workshop examines the gamut of the fortified category, starting with high-proof fortification protocols and quality control, through both white and different styles of red port-style wines, to the classic sherry solera system, and madeira-style fortified wine.

Peter Bell

Fortified wines represent an intriguing category, with almost limitless potential for creativity. To add to the appeal, they can be very high value-added products. Peter will cover the basics of fortification, including choice of fortifying spirits, fortification calculations, and timing of fortification. He will also cover some of the important styles of Port-inspired wines and talk about how they are made.

Peter Bell & Damien Blanchon

Peter Bell, winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards, Seneca Lake, NY will pour and discuss Hedonia, a semi-dry Traminette-basd white port-style wine, while Damien Blanchon, winemaker at Afton Mountain Vineyards, VA pours and discusses his as-yet unreleased Vin Doux Naturel wine based on Muscat of Alexandria, in the French Provençal tradition.

Matthieu Finot & Chris Pearmund

Matthieu Finot, winemaker at King Family Vineyards, VA pours and discusses Seven, his Petit Verdot-based ruby port-style wine, aged in bourbon barrels, and Chris Pearmund, proprietor of Pearmund Cellars and Effingham Manor, both in VA, pours and discusses Snort, his Chambourcin-based vintage character port-style wine.

Tiffany Farrell & Conor Quilty

A true tawny port is aged for years (either from one or a blend of vintages) and gets its name from its orange tinged color. Making a successful tawny port-style wine is both an art and a science. Conor Quilty, winemaker at Unionville Vineyards, NJ will discuss how he uses the classic Spanish solera blending method to build a multi-vintage tawny port-style wine of Chambourcin. Tiffany Farrell, winemaker at Haak Cellars in Galveston, Texas, will explain how she makes tawny port-style wine from black Spanish (a vitis aestivalis variety).

Carlo Devito & Tiffany Farrell

Carlo Devito, owner and winemaker at Hudson Chatham Vineyards, will explain how he uses the classic sherry solera system to make his small-batch sherry.Tiffany Farrell, winemaker of Haak Cellars, TX will pour and discuss their madeira-style wines made from Jacquez, aka Black Spanish, aka Lenoir, an aestivalis x vinifera hybrid.

Workshop 3: Eco-Friendly Packaging Options

Eco-Friendly Packaging Options
Worldwide, the wine industry is considering how to practice sustainability from the vineyard through the bottling line and recycling. This workshop focuses on options for greener packaging, whether it’s lighter-weight glass bottles or alternatives to glass containers, and the environmental benefits of a range of closure options.

George Hall and Phil Plummer

George Hall from Waterloo Container will explain their line of lightweight glass bottles and Phil Plummer of Montezuma Winery explains why he’s now using them, and the environmental and other benefits this brings.

Lee Hartman & Michael Mitchell

The greenest container of all is one that can be refilled. Wineries are increasingly selling wine in re-useable bottles or growlers that can be re-filled on-premise, saving container costs and raw materials. Keg wine also saves lots of packaging material while offering trade and retail customers savings. Cape May Winery has started a popular growler program from their tasting room wines-on-tap, while Lee Hartman has only recently introduced growlers at Bluestone Vineyards but is optimistic on the future of this eco-friendly option.

Steve diFrancesco, Dave Moynihan & Justin Rose

The category of alternative packaging is growing quickly. The wine consumer continues to look for and adopt eco-friendly, lightweight, less resource-intensive packaging solutions that can solve consumer use problems. Dave will contrast and compare flexible packaging (pouch and BIB) to glass from a technical stand-point. He will discuss oxygen transfer rates (OTR) of various materials and speak to the carbon footprint and sustainability issues of the different packaging types. Steve diFrancesco of Glenora Wine Group will explain why he likes the AstraPouch for specific products and its “green” benefits, while Justin Rose of Rosemont of Virginia Winery explains why he uses BIB packaging for his 1.5 liter red, white and rosé labels.

Tim Benedict & Roger Kissling

Tim Benedict, winemaker at East Coast Crush & Co-Pack and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, will explain the environmental and other benefits he sees in canning wine and cider. He will co-present with Roger Kissling from Iron Heart Canning.

Don Huffman, Justin Rose & Peter Weber

Don Huffman of Vinventions and winemaker Justin Rose of Rosemont of Virginia Winery will discuss the environmental and other benefits of PlantCorc, the new natural cork made from sugarcane. Peter Weber of the Cork Quality Council will present current developments in the cork industry, including an update of achievements in TCA prevention, current statistics on consumer cork recycling, and specifics on the many environmental benefits of using natural cork closures, and the growing interest in cork as a natural, sustainable and ecologically favorable material.


Tiffany Aldridge & Tim Benedict

Formula wines (those with non-wine flavorings like vanilla, chocolate or artificial colors) are taking off in popularity—and can have a host of both chemistry and regulatory issues. This session brings together Tim Benedict, winemaker of East Coast Crush & Co-Pack and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, with Tiffany Aldridge of Williams Compliance to combine their areas of expertise in explaining the most important things you need to know, and the TTB resources to use, in getting approval for your formula wines, from both the TTB and your customers. They will cover legal issues to consider when filing a formula and how formulas affect content on your labels, documentation to have available when preparing the application, and the different parts of a formula application. Attendees with any interest in producing flavored or non-standard wines will benefit from attendance at this session.

Peter Bell & Howard Bursen

The East has a big advantage over warmer climates, with its bright fresh fruit character. Many grape varieties can yield aromatic “fruit forward” wines. Often, though, wines made from these varieties fail to live up to their promise. The bottled wine lacks those appealing aromatics. It ends up dull and neutral. How can we ensure that the fruit stays forward in the finished wine? In this presentation we look at ways to ensure that potentially aromatic wines deliver on their promise. We’ll follow the winemaking from vineyard to crush pad, through fermentation, aging and bottling. We’ll share the techniques we’ve learned in our long careers as winemakers. You’ll learn how to bring the fruit forward, and how to keep it fruit forward.

Chris Gerling & Marybeth Williams

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the biggest change to food regulation since the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act was passed in 1938. This presentation will cover FSMA and how it relates to the wine industry. Marybeth and Chris will discuss whether FSMA applies to you, and what you need to do to comply with FSMA or verify your exemption from FSMA. They’ll discuss how these obligations interact with other FDA requirements, as well as obligations you have with other regulators, including TTB, your state liquor authorities, and your state health and agriculture departments.

Ben Jordan, Phil Plummer & Federico Tondini, Ph.D.

Dr. Federico Tondini of AEB USA will introduce spontaneous fermentation and focus on different indigenous non-Saccharomyces yeasts selected for their desirable oenological characteristics. Phil Plummer of Montezuma Vineyards will speak on Scott Labs’ “Anchor” packet of multiple saccharomyces yeasts that act in concert at different times in the fermentation to help with stylistic goals, and Ben Jordan of Early Mountain Vineyards will explain how he makes his wild yeast ferment chardonnay.

Dr. Molly Kelly

In this session Molly will cover intermediate winery laboratory analysis. Therefore winemakers with some understanding of lab protocols should attend. Analyses to be presented include volatile acidity by Cash still, free and total sulfur dioxide using aeration oxidation, pH meter calibration, malolactic chromatography as well as heat and cold stabilization techniques. She will discuss timing of these analyses and why we perform them. Video clips will be shown of each test in order to clarify the process.

Corry Craighill (on stage) & Vijay Singh (via Skype)

In the myriad of choices to manipulate fruit, cap management can be a simple yet effective step in the process of creating a balanced wine. Cap management decisions can vary based on vintage, fruit quality, or wine style. Conventional cap management utilizes pumparound or mechanical punch down. While these techniques break and moisten the cap they do not adequately homogenize the fermenting must leading to temperature gradients resulting in a cap that is much hotter than the bulk must. These temperature gradients in turn lead to yeast stress and often reductive aromas. Vijay will present data showing these temperature gradients and how the use of the GOfermentor device reduces these gradients by squeezing the must using air-inflated bags. 

Altering the level of tannin extraction, expressing various aromatic and flavor identities, or helping to create a healthy environment for fermentation are all factors that a winemaker can consider when choosing how to treat the cap. Over the past three years, Corry has experimented with cap management on Merlot in order to better understand how to achieve specific goals for each vintage. She’ll discuss her findings from this endeavor.

Ben Jordan (via Skype) & Benoit Pineau (on stage)

Many Eastern winemakers are discovering that with oak vessels, “more can be less” when it comes to surface-to-volume ratio and the resulting oak impact on the wine. These two Virginia winemakers will discuss their use of larger oak vessels, from 500-1000 liter foudres to upright oak fermentation vats.

Doug Fabbioli & John Kiers

Wondering what new climate-specific red vinifera grapes might suit your site? John Kiers of Ox Eye Vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley will discuss his work with Lemberger, aka Blaufränkisch, as a strong-suit grape for dry red or rosé wines, while Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars in Northern Virginia discusses his work with the big-bodied and tannic Mediterranean grape, Tannat.

Barry Gump, PhD

This session will cover improvements and advances in a number of winery laboratory analyses. Included in the discussion will be advances in MLF paper chromatography, introduction of enzyme analysis test strips, volatile acidity measurements, advances in iodine titrations for sulfur dioxide, pH measurements using the pH electrode, and phase-contrast microscopy. Being capable of monitoring the chemical status of your wine gives the winemaker important information on how the winemaking process is proceeding. 


Melanie Friedman & Scott Scarfone

With increasing attention on sustainable practices, existing and new wineries and tasting rooms are looking to lessen their environmental footprint while concurrently increasing their marketability through environmental design that enhances property aesthetics and value-added amenities. When designed properly, these strategies can work seamlessly together in a holistic approach that encompasses the interior and exterior spaces to maximize the benefits to winery owners and guests.

This session will examine various ways to concurrently decrease environmental impact while improving visual appeal and street presence, creating a more pleasant experience for guests. Both new and existing facilities can benefit from these approaches, and attendees will be provided examples of a variety of approaches to sustainable design.

Craig Ross & Sam Vinakor

Wineries can be among the most complex operations. Compliance, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, online wine clubs, food service, events, hospitality…the list goes on. To most effectively improve operations and comply with regulations, management needs to have a correct, complete and timely bird’s-eye-view of all business activities. 

In this session, leading winery technology vendors will show you how creating and then using a master set of business data will allow you to rapidly grow revenue and market share, understand and engage with customers more effectively, and efficiently produce required regulatory reporting.


Tremain Hatch

The Vineyard Financial Calculator is an educational tool, formatted in Excel, that is useful for comparing the financial performance of different vineyard operational scenarios. The tool was designed to forecast the approximate pretax annual cash inflows and outflows of a vineyard − information required to build a business prospectus. Its intended user is an individual or organization exploring the financial requirements of vineyard establishment and operation in Virginia. Users can modify certain input variables, such as vineyard size and labor costs, as well as outputs, such as crop level, to tailor the projections to personal expectations. 

Tiffany Farrell, Nathan Held & Lucie Morton

Viticulturist Lucie Morton suggests re-visiting American heritage varieties in the light of sustainability. She will share some of her recent experiences visiting French producers growing American heritage varieties that remain important to these “rebel” winemakers who embrace them in spite of their legal status as “prohibited” in France. Nathan Held of Stone Hill Winery (MO) pours and discusses Hellbender, a three-grape blend of heritage varieties in Missouri named after the endangered Hellbender salamander, now their best-selling wine. Nathan believes one can craft a great wine and a great story through the use of American heritage varieties, and that building such a narrative around one’s wine will allow for greater market success. Tiffany Farrell of Haak Winery (TX) pours and discusses their dry Blanc du Bois, a complex vinifera hybrid that is resistant to PD and fungal diseases.

Damien Blanchon, Lucie Morton & Ron Wates

This panel of viticulturist Lucie Morton, vineyard manager Ron Wates and winegrower Damien Blanchon discusses the persistent question of whether we can–reliably and consistently–ripen Cabernet Sauvignon in the East. Lucie will provide and share “perfume” samples of geosmin and selected pyrazines as aromatic education.

Bubba Beasley & Joyce Rigby

Joyce and Bubba, both vineyard consultants, will discuss the highlights of vineyard establishment and expansion. Bubba will focus on the soil composition, fertility, structure and water draining properties, while Joyce focuses on vineyard layout and planning for efficient vineyard and canopy management based on cultivars and soil fertility.

Lucie Morton

Gone are the days of simply calling up a nursery and asking for Chardonnay or Merlot. These monikers must now be followed by numbers to more precisely specify the nature of the fruit these varieties will be producing. Not only are cluster size and flavors at play but even cold hardiness and disease resistance. As an ampelographer, Lucie will present her observations on the subtle ways that even the leaves can signal genetic variations.

Maya Hood White (via Skype) & Nick Pehle (cancelled)

Join Maya and Nick as they share their knowledge of vineyard mechanization. Maya will focus on mechanization implemented to supplement hand labor in vineyard management. She’ll touch on mechanization types to include management of undervine, fruit zone, canopy and cover crop with action videos. Nick will speak on using vineyard mechanization in commercial vineyards and reasons he converted to mechanization. He’ll cover tips for adapting existing vineyards and installing new ones for optimal efficiency, types of mechanization he currently uses, the pros and cons of different mechanization, and tips in moving forward in your own

Andrew Reynolds & Jennifer Phillips Russo

As pressure on land, water and labor resources has intensified, Precision Viticulture (PV) has emerged with the central objective of optimizing efficiency in vineyard management, encouraging growers to graduate from management strategies where one size-fits-all. Jackie will discuss her research with the Efficient Vineyard project, funded by a USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant, showing how spatial data drives decision-making and mechanization in commercial vineyards. This, along with some variable-rate upgrades, makes it easy for growers to turn those decisions into profit. Andy will discuss how geomatic technologies are strongly applicable to viticulture. Eastern soil characteristics range widely in texture, depth, and water-holding capacity. This variability in soil characteristics can impact vine vigor, yield, water status, and potential wine quality. Such spatial variability is detectable using remote sensing, using conventional aircraft and drones, and can thereafter be exploited for economic gain. Andy’s team has had substantial experience in using drones to delineate zones of different vine water status, grapevine leafroll infection, and wine sensory quality.

Oliver Asberger (cancelled), Robert Butz (on stage) & Nick Pehle (cancelled)

Nick and Oliver have cancelled due to illness. Their presentations will be be available to all attendees. 

In an era of less available labor and increasing mechanization, growers should consider if their trellis system is set up to accommodate mechanized technology in the future, even if they don’t currently use it. As Oliver will discuss, a later modification will be costly or may not be practically possible.  Nick will review his experiences in custom wine grape picking for the last twenty years and discuss the benefits of transitioning to machine harvesting, including different types of machines, options on grape harvesters, and tips on operating them on high bilateral cordons. Robert will discuss how he uses his background in row crop farming, which is highly mechanized, to apply different types of mechanization to grape growing. He will will focus on what works, what doesn’t, and which types of vineyard equipment yield the fastest return on investment.

Heather Leach

Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive planthopper first detected in Southeast PA in 2014. Since that time, it has been found in PA, NJ, DE, MD, and VA. Detections of SLF have been made in NY, CT, and MA, though no established population is known in these areas. SLF has been shown to be a significant pest of grapes, leading to a decrease in winter hardiness and return crop and marketability of the crop for fresh market, juice or wine. This session will focus on the basic biology of the Spotted Lanternfly, correct identification of all life stages, how and when to scout, and management strategies for this invasive pest.

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Conference Manager

Photo of Richard Leahy, Conference Program DirectorRichard Leahy has organized major wine industry conference seminar programs from Pennsylvania to Minnesota since 1997, and has been writing about wines of Virginia and the East since 1986. In 2007 he organized the Virginia Wine Experience in London which brought the top 64 Virginia wines there for leading British wine media and trade to taste. He was a regional editor for Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide, and was Mid-Atlantic and Southern Editor for the Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America. He was East Coast Editor of Vineyard & Winery Management for over ten years. He is a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the Circle of Wine Writers. Richard’s book on Virginia wine, Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, now in a second edition, was first published in 2012 by Sterling Publishing. He also has a website and blog focused on wines of the East at www.richardleahy.com.

Program Advisory Board

Thank you to the EWE Program Advisory Board for their input, ideas, feedback, and suggestions that continue to make the EWE Conference stronger every year.

  • Tim Benedict, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, New York
  • Jerry Forest, Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Pennsylvania
  • Denise Gardner, Denise Gardner Winemaking, LLC
  • Patty Held, Patty Held Consulting, Missouri
  • Doug Moorhead, Presque Isle Wine Cellars, Pennsylvania
  • Lucie Morton, Lucie Morton Consulting, Virginia
  • Tom Payette, Tom Payette Wine Consulting, Virginia