2021 Eastern Winery Exposition | Conference Program 2021

2021 EWE Conference Program

Grid of photos from 2019 Eastern Winery Exposition

Highlights of the 2021 program:

  • 35 Conference sessions & Workshop modules with the focus on Enology, Viticulture and Money/Management
  • Returning EWE Superstars: Tim Benedict, Peter Bell, Bubba Beasley, Matthieu Finot, and more!
  • One Full Day Workshop focusing on Fining and Filtration
  • A second Full Day Workshop on Fortified Wines
  • A third Full Day Workshop on Fruit Wine and Fruit Mead
  • Emphasis on grape & wine issues, with plenty of viticulture & enology sessions
  • Enology Focus on Advanced Lab Analysis, Large Oak Containers and Barrel Alternatives, Cap Management Options and Pinot Noir
  • Viticulture Focus on Vineyard Economics, Vineyard Establishment and Expansion, Frost Damage Mitigation, New Technology and New Mostly Vinifera Hybrids
  • Money/Management: Turning Financial Loss to Tax Advantage, Master Data Management
  • 30 state and industry associations offering conference registration discounts to their members


2021 EWE Workshops & Conference

EWE Workshops take place March 16 and 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.

Conference sessions take place March 17-18 and are listed in the right column below in order by track: Enology, Money/Management and Viticulture. Speaker biographies can be found on the Speaker page. Click on the “+” signs below to expand each session for details.  

Workshop 1: Fruit Wines and Fruit Meads

Fruit Wines and Fruit Meads

Fruit wines continue to be popular with consumers in tasting rooms, and mead is the fastest-growing category of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. today. However, both categories have their own challenges and issues that differ from standard grape wine processing. Speakers will address category-wide issues as well as tasting and discussing fine examples of berry and tree fruit wines, regular mead and fruit or grape mead blends.

Joe Fiola and Dominic Rivard

Fruit wines are very popular both with winemakers and consumers in the Eastern U.S., however knowledge of the basics for amelioration of sugar and acids is critical for making a balanced and stable wine. As fruit wines contain predominantly citric and malic acids, these should be used to ameliorate to maintain proper balance. Fruits have lower sugars/Brix% than grapes, therefore sugar addition (chaptalization) before fermentation is needed to obtain adequate alcohol during fermentation to achieve the final desired alcohol level. As per TTB regulations, all wine that contains fruits other than grapes must be labeled appropriately and specific requirements for labeling of fruit wines can be different for wine made from grapes.

Scott Bubb and Ken Hardcastle

Ken Hardcastle of Hermit Woods Winery, NH will pour and discuss his dry Hermitage, a complex dry red berry blend modeled on red wines of the Rhone Valley, and Scott Bubb of Seven Mountains Winery, PA will pour and discuss his sweet black raspberry wine.

Yan Fay and Dominic Rivard

Dominic Rivard, winemaker for Maquam Winery in Vermont, will pour and discuss their pear wine, while Yan Fay of Beak and Skiff Apple Orchards south of Syracuse will pour and discuss both dry and sweet styles of apple wine.

Ken Hardcastle

Fermented honey(+water) is the oldest known alcoholic beverage. Ken will provide guidance on how to craft exceptional mead, which requires a deep understanding of fermentation kinetics and insight into the complexities of honey (the details of which will likely continue to challenge us all for decades to come). The nature of honey can be highly variable and should be carefully considered for any mead.  

Through hundreds of ferments, Ken has empirically discovered keys to consistently making pleasing meads, which include: a phased honey addition, strong nutrient program, and adherence to good clean practices. pH swings and quiet fermentation are no longer worrisome; focus should be on acquiring the finest honey, blending it with the best water, yeast and nutrient to craft a fully satisfying mead.

Matt Falenski and Ken Hardcastle

Popular variations of mead are blends with fruit wine (melomels) and blends with grape wine (pyments). Matt Falenski of Laurel Highland Meadery, PA will pour and discuss his Chambourcin/mead pyment, and Ken Hardcastle of Hermit Woods Winery, NH will pour and discuss his Red Scare melomel.

Workshop 2: Fortified Wines

Fortified Wines

Regional wineries across the U.S. have found fortified wines to be a fun category for consumers and a financially rewarding option for producers. This workshop focuses on variations of port-style wines (white, ruby and reserve/multi-vintage blend). We kick off the workshop with high-proof fortification protocols and quality control, and in addition to port styles, we’ll explore cream sherry style and an explanation of the classic sherry solera system.

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.

Carlo Devito and Tim Benedict

Carlo Devito, owner and winemaker at Hudson Chatham Vineyards will explain how he uses the classic sherry solera system to make his small-batch dry and cream sherry-styles. Tim Benedict of Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards will also pour and discuss his cream sherry-style.

Peter Bell

Peter Bell, winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards, Seneca Lake, NY will pour and discuss Hedonia, a semi-dry Traminette-based white port-style wine, as well as Goose Watch’s Finale, with a different technique and grape varieties.

Peter Bell and Chris Stamp          

Chris Stamp of Lakewood Vineyards, NY pours and discusses his hybrid-based ruby port-style and its processing, while Peter Bell will pour and discuss his vinifera-based Fox Run ruby port-style wine and its processing.

Scott Kunyon and Conor Quilty

Conor Quilty, winemaker at Unionville Vineyards, NJ will discuss how he uses the classic Spanish solera blending method to build a multi-vintage reserve port-style wine of Chambourcin, and Scott Kunyon of Deer Run Vineyards, Geneseo, NY, pours and discusses the hybrid grapes and blend process of his Dockside multi-vintage port-style wine, aged with bourbon staves.

Workshop 3: Fining and Filtration

Fining and Filtration

Why do we fine and filter commercial wines? Are “unfined, unfiltered” wines better because they require less work and manipulation? We’ll cover this important phase of winemaking from an introduction by extension enologist Molly Kelly of PSU, to comparing contemporary filtration media by Maria Peterson of Scott Labs, to more in-depth, specific topics by commercial winemakers including sterile filtration at bottling, clearing challenging wines, and a panel discussion of fining trials, filtration media and logistics.

Molly Kelly

This session will provide an overview of fining agents used to improve wine quality. Pros and cons will be discussed for the most used agents. In addition, various filtration methods will be presented including the difference between nominal and absolute filtration. The impact of sterile filtration on finished wine and how to avoid bottling day problems when using a sterile filter pre-bottling will also be discussed.

This presentation is intended for commercial winemakers with some basic knowledge of fining principles, fining agents and wine filtration methods. Attendees will gain additional knowledge on these topics and ways to implement fining and filtration to achieve improved wine quality.

Steve DiFrancesco and Phil Plummer

One of the great advantages experienced by winemakers in Eastern North America is access to a wide variety of unique and flavorful vinifera, hybrid, and native grape varieties. However, when it is time to filter the wines made from these grapes, the vast differences in their respective chemistries can present challenges. Join Finger Lakes winemakers Steve DiFrancesco and Phil Plummer for a discussion of techniques, additives, and equipment that can be employed to assess and improve the filterability of challenging wines.

Maria Peterson

What options do small wineries have for depth filtration in the cellar and sterile filtration at bottling these days, and how do they compare? We will look at a real world comparison between sheet and lenticular filtration and show an in-depth model on which one is more cost efficient over time. As production expands, we will look at which crossflow becomes viable.

Tim Benedict and Maria Peterson

This session will provide a collaborative discussion on the potential issues and challenges of sterile filtration at bottling and how it affects productivity. Tim and Maria will discuss different ways of predicting filterability before going to bottling and provide practical, sustainable solutions that will ensure a stress-free bottling day.

Steve DiFrancesco and Phil Plummer

While often polarizing, fining and filtration can be indispensable tools in shaping the style and stability of wines. Finger Lakes winemakers Steve DiFrancesco and Phil Plummer will present a broad overview of how, when, and why to use these tools, as well as laboratory and logistical techniques to evaluate and ensure their efficacy.


Tim Benedict

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act became a requirement for many wineries in 2018. It is the first major legislation since 1938 to address food safety and food defense. Although wine, beer and cider are not susceptible to most foodborne illnesses, there are food safety issues related to the making of these products that come under the authority of this legislation. Tim presents a practical guide to help you put in place some of the procedures and documentation required to create safe products and to be in compliance with FSMA.

Morten Hallgren and Fred Merwarth

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 Finger Lakes winemakers will discuss their use of larger oak vessels for red and white wines.

Tim Benedict and Josh Trimboli

“Cleanliness is a basic condition for quality. The whole of enological science would be to no avail if the work itself were done in places that were dirty.”     – Emile Paynaud

This session will provide an introduction to enzymatic detergent in the wine industry. As the industry continues to move toward eco-friendly alternatives and safer products, enzyme based detergents are gaining popularity over traditional caustics. As demand has grown so has the ability to safely and effectively combat contamination on equipment, giving a wide range of advantages to the new technology. The constant growth of wineries has led to more sophisticated membrane filtration systems. By introducing enzymes instead of caustic cleaners, winemakers can now extend the life of their expensive crossflow units while increasing flow rates. Enzyme technology is a cost-effective option as cost of membranes continue to increase. Biofilms in the wine industry are not often thought of or understood. Ensuring that a facility remains contamination-free is essential to crafting uniform batches. By first knowing what to look for, a vintner can address the problem swiftly.

Peter Bell and Fred Merwarth

Most wine experts agree that balance is central to the idea of quality in all wines. Riesling is the perfect wine to explore the idea of optimal balance. In addition to the obvious components of sugar and acid, good winemakers pay attention to alcohol, phenolics (and other textural components), botrytis (or its absence), and even lees contact in their quest for a perfectly balanced wine.

In this session, winemakers Peter Bell and Fred Merwarth, both of whom have decades of experience with Riesling, will talk about their respective philosophies for making Riesling wine in various styles, and elucidate techniques they use to achieve them.

Christine Vrooman

In 2008, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Amherst County, VA, a small vineyard of Pinot Noir was planted by the Vrooman family of Virginia Beach as a family project, with the goal to push the boundaries of what was deemed possible on a site that was very different than the majority of vineyards in Virginia. The project was a leap of faith, and the outcome led to Ankida Ridge being invited to present their Pinot Noir at Oregon’s famous IPNC. Christine will discuss site specifics, the sustainable viticulture practices that embrace the French expression, La Lutte Raisonnée, along with the supplementation of some biodynamic practices, and the vinification practices and protocols that winemaker, Nathan Vrooman, implements in the cellar. 

Corry Craighill & Vijay Singh

Cap management can be a simple yet effective step in the process of creating a balanced wine. Conventional 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 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. Corry has experimented with cap management on Merlot to better understand how to achieve specific goals for each vintage. She’ll discuss her findings.

Matthieu Finot and Joy Ting

Some vintages like 2020 can be challenging in Virginia. Because of rain and/or late ripening, some varieties, such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, stall in Brix accumulation but still present other markers of maturity (varietal character, ripe seeds and tannins). With this in mind, the Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange undertook a study to examine the effect of three chaptalization rates on the perception of ripeness in Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The study examined the effect of chaptalization rates of 30 g/L and 60 g/L with sugar, along with a control batch with no chaptalization. Matthieu and Joy will share the results.

Darren Michaels

As consumer preferences have shifted to organic or low chemical input wines, winemakers have become creative in controlling outcomes with fruit negatively affected by disease, from the usage of enological tannins to proactive inoculation of non-sacchromyces yeast strains.  This talk will dig into current applications, both classic and novel, and discuss ways to achieve positive outcomes and maintain consumer preference for low-chemical input wines while maintaining wine quality. Join us for a talk on current options winemakers have in choosing strategies that include low or no SO2 additions.

Barry Gump, PhD

The capacity to monitor the chemical status of wine gives the winemaker important information on how the winemaking process is proceeding. Barry will cover improvements and advances in winery laboratory analyses including 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.

Robert Crandell

This session will provide wine makers with the latest advancements in barrel selection, oak adjuncts and barrel alternatives for oenology based on chemical composition and flavor profiles. This will take place by conducting a sensory demonstration of the use of an array of adjuncts / barrel alternatives on regional wines.


Sam Vinakor

Wineries can be among the most complex operations, incorporating compliance, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, wine clubs, food service, events, hospitality, etc. To improve operations and comply with regulations, management needs to have a complete and timely view of all business activities. Leading winery technology vendors will show you how creating and 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.

Jay Borzillo

2020 has been a year for the ages. Dealing with a global pandemic and its impact on your businesses has created a significant number of questions and opportunities as we move ahead. Jay will discuss various planning opportunities to help mitigate your tax burden. From Paycheck Protection Program loans to SBA funding to tax reform that has expanded the availability of net operating loss treatment, we will cover how these programs will impact your financial and tax results as you plan into the future.


Marc Fuchs

Crown gall is a bacterial disease that causes the formation of cankers on grapevines, leading to production losses and higher vineyard management costs. Most diagnostic tests are not sensitive to consistently detect crown gall bacteria, often indicating that vines are clean, when they are not. Marc will discuss how they used tissue cultures to produce clean vines from infected mother vines and used a more sensitive (10,000 times!) diagnostic test to confidently identify vines for which the crown gall bacterium was eliminated.

Yuri Zambon

The sustainability of wine production is of keen interest to consumers and all operators in the supply chain. In the EU the restrictions in the use of copper compounds in fungicides and the problems related to climate change make the future of our viticulture uncertain. Accordingly, Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, a leading grapevine nursery, started a successful collaboration with the University of Udine and the Institute of Applied Genomics (IGA) in 2006 to make new disease-resistant winegrape varieties available to winegrowers. 

The first ten Italian fungal disease-resistant varieties are Fleurtai, Soreli, Sauvignon Kretos, Sauvignon Rytos, Sauvignon Nepis, Merlot Kanthus, Merlot Khorus, Cabernet Volos, Cabernet Eidos and Julius. These cultivars have been bred through interspecific crosses between sensitive varieties of Vitis Vinifera and a selection of American and/or Asian vines bearing the characteristics of resistance, which results from 50, and sometimes 100, years of cross-breeding with European vines. Thanks to these new varieties it has become possible to reduce phytosanitary treatments by about 70%, limit water waste, avoid useless soil compaction and cut production costs. All this, as shown by several analyses and tasting sessions, can now be achieved without undermining the quality, wholesomeness and characteristics of the wines, which are highly appreciated by final consumers.

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 also been made in NY, CT, and MA. 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 SLF, correct identification of life stages, how and when to scout, and management strategies.

Tremain Hatch

The Vineyard Financial Calculator is an educational tool in Excel that is useful for comparing the financial performance of different vineyard operational scenarios. The tool was designed to forecast the approximate pre-tax annual cash inflows and outflows of a vineyard. Its intended user is an individual or organization exploring the financial requirements of vineyard establishment and operation in Virginia. Users can modify input and output variables to tailor the projections to personal expectations and to their sites.

Eric Aellen and Joyce Rigby

Is frost plaguing your vineyard? Are you looking for a cost-effective way to combat it? Eric has been using Shur-Farm Frost Protections for over 25 years and will discuss his experience. As one of the first installations on the East Coast, he has found that these frost fans have saved his vineyards countless times. He will discuss how frost is formed; where the cold air (which is generated by frost) goes; and how to remove the cold air. There will be an in-depth discussion using mapping of Linganore Winecellars to show placement of fans, airflow, and the effectiveness of use for spring frost. 

Joyce will describe the frost mitigation strategies she used in 2020: seven times in the Spring and three in the Fall. She used propane – powered, trailer-mounted heaters called Frost Dragons and Agro-K’s potassium-based spray, KDL. With only two Dragons for 27 acres she had to strategize where to focus the Dragons and when to use them. Although not meant to be prescriptive, she will detail what she and her crew did and describe the results.

Bubba Beasley and 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.

Miguel Gomez

In 1997 Dr. Gerald White published the first of a series of bulletins entitled Cost of Establishment and Production of Vinifera Grapes in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. The seventh edition has updated costs and returns to 2019 levels. In 1997, the total per-acre investment was $15,000, and annual growing costs were estimated at $3,000 per acre.  Twenty-three years later in 2019, modeled investment costs have risen to $47,000 per acre, and annual growing costs have increased to $5,600 per acre. Prices received for grapes have gone up by ~$500 per ton, but not as rapidly as establishment costs. In this presentation Miguel will review how different costs have changed in the 23 years covered by the seven publications.

David Gadoury

The fungus that causes grapevine powdery mildew spends its life on the outermost tissues of grapevine leaves and berries, bathed in sunlight. The pathogen has evolved natural biochemical and genetic defenses against intense ultraviolet light from the sun, and repairs damage to its DNA as fast as it occurs, in a reaction that is driven by blue light. Cornell AgriTech leads an international team of scientists with the goal of turning this finely-evolved relationship against the pathogen. They do so by using UV at night, when DNA repair is not possible. By doing so they have successfully controlled powdery mildew to a degree comparable to that afforded by the best available fungicides, without injury to leaves or fruit.  They have designed a number of tractor-drawn UV arrays that can be fabricated by end users, and have also worked with a builder of autonomous agricultural robots (Saga Robotics LLC) to produce the first autonomous robotic devices for grape IPM. UV has also shown some potential to suppress grapevine downy mildew, mites, and the sour rot complex.

Conference Manager

Richard 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 third 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.

  • Peter Bell, Fox Run Vineyards, New York
  • 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