EWE Conference Program
“From wine marketing, to viticulture and enology, the Eastern Winery Exposition’s program schedule has it all.”
Highlights of the 2022 program:
- 35 Conference sessions & Workshop modules with the focus on Enology, Viticulture and Money/Management
- Returning EWE Superstars: Tim Benedict, Peter Bell, Bubba Beasley, Molly Kelly, 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 Mead
- Emphasis on grape & wine issues, with plenty of viticulture & enology sessions
- Enology Focus on Advanced Lab Analysis, Large Oak Containers and Barrel Alternatives, Red Wine Chaptalization Trials, Riesling and Pinot Noir
- Viticulture Focus on Vineyard Economics, Vineyard Establishment and Expansion, Frost Damage Mitigation, and New Technology and New Mostly Vinifera Hybrids
- Money/Management: Turning Financial Loss or Gain to Tax Advantage, Master Data Management
- 30 state and industry associations offering conference registration discounts to their members
EWE Workshops & Conference
EWE Workshops take place March 22 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. Lunch included.
Conference sessions take place March 23-24 and are listed in the right column below in order by track: Enology, Money/Management and Viticulture.
Click on the “+” signs below to expand each session for details.
Workshop 1: Fruit Wines and Mead
Fruit Wines and Mead
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.
Ken Hardcastle and Ed Lutjens
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, while Ed Lutjens pours and discusses his charmat and methode champenoise Maine-grown blueberry sparkling wines.
Yann 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 and Dominic Rivard
Fermented honey(+water) is the oldest known alcoholic beverage. Ken and Dominic 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.
Ken and Dominic will discuss a phased honey addition, strong nutrient program, and adherence to good clean practices. Your 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
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.
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, former owner of Hudson Chatham Vineyards will explain how he used 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, 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.
John Cifelli and Scott Kuyon
John Cifelli, general manager 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 Kuyon 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.
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.
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 winemaker Phil Plummer and winemaking consultant Steve DiFrancesco 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.
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.
Georg will begin with a short introduction to the Austrian wine laws and then explain Austrian Grüner Veltliner viticulture & vinification, focusing on key differences between the country’s regions. He’ll do the same with Blaufränkisch as a varietal and also·Blaufränkisch blends. In addition to the wine law requirements, he will share the specifics that Austrian growers and vintners consider quality parameters for these grapes. The session will include tasting examples for both varieties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Joy will share the results.
Practical considerations for determining chaptalization targets will be discussed along with tasting of experimental wines.
Thomas Bachelder and Christine Vrooman
Thomas Bachelder of Les Clos Jordanne and Bachelder makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from vineyards on the Niagara Peninsula bench in Ontario, as well as in Oregon and Burgundy. In all places, he works with organic vignerons to ensure that the local ‘sense of place’ is best expressed. Wherever he works, Thomas crafts wines that sing of their origins with as little ‘makeup’ as possible–wines that are finely-perfumed and tightly-wound, offering the classic refined fruit and textured minerality of the best terroirs.
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.
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.
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.
MONEY & MANAGEMENT
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.
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 Employee Retention Credits to SBA funding to tax reform that has expanded the availability of net operating loss treatment, he will discuss how these programs will impact your financial and tax results as you plan into the future.
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 culture procedures to produce clean vines from infected mother vines and a more sensitive (10,000 times!) diagnostic test to confidently identify vines for which the crown gall bacterium was eliminated.
The sustainability of wine production is of keen interest to consumers and all operators in the supply chain. 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 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 can now be achieved without undermining the quality and taste profile of the wines, which are highly appreciated by final consumers.
Andy Reynolds and Jennifer Phillips Russo
Building on the Precision Viticulture I talk from EWE 2020, Andy and Jennifer will further explore how geomatic technologies are strongly applicable to precision agriculture. Use of these precision agriculture technologies has been widely adapted by the agronomic sector, particularly corn, wheat and soybeans. There is also great potential for these geomatic technologies to be applied to perennial woody plants, particularly grapes. The glacial epoch over 10,000 yr ago left eastern vineyards with soil characteristics that 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 proximal sensing as well as remote sensing, using conventional aircraft and drones, and can thereafter be exploited for economic gain. Remote sensing may also be used for detection of various mineral deficiencies, disease infections, differences in soil and vine water status, and viruses. Our team has had substantial experience in use of both proximal sensing technologies and drones to delineate zones of different vine water status, grapevine leafroll and red blotch infection, and wine sensory quality.
Cornell AgriTech’s Efficient Vineyard project, funded through the USDA-NIFA-Specialty Crop Research Initiative, is part of a national effort to advance the use of precision viticulture in wine, juice, and table grape production. The disciplines of engineering, precision agriculture, viticulture, and economics come together to measure vineyard soil, canopy, and crop characteristics, model spatial data for viticulture information, and manage vineyard crop load through variable-rate machine applications.The MyEV tool puts that research in grower hands with a suite of easy-to-use, online GIS tools that help collect, organize, map, and analyze vineyard data. Jennifer’s presentation will introduce you to the latest technologies being researched at Cornell AgriTech.
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 her frost mitigation strategies that were used nine times in 2020: six 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 and 27 acres she had to decide 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 how well it worked.
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.
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.
It is widely acknowledged that crop load is a variable that can have a noticeable impact on Pinot Noir wine quality. This presentation details a controlled trial where five different methods of crop load management were performed on Pinot Noir from the same vineyard block at Beneduce Vineyards in New Jersey in 2017, picked on the same day and vinified identically. This presentation will detail the empirical effects of each crop load management technique on fruit composition and wine quality. Each treatment will be presented in a comparative tasting, and the audience will be asked to vote for their favorite treatment based on hedonic preference.
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.
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.
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
- Lucie Morton, Lucie Morton Consulting, Virginia
- Tom Payette, Tom Payette Wine Consulting, Virginia