Eastern Winery Exposition | Conference Program 2023

EWE Conference Program

Grid of photos from 2019 Eastern Winery Exposition

EWE Workshops & Conference

EWE Workshops will take place March 14 and provide a full day exploration of a single topic. You can choose from one of three full workshops or cherry-pick just the sessions you want from each. Lunch included.

Conference sessions take place March 15-16 and will feature sessions in 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. 

  Workshops Button  

WORKSHOP 1: Sustainable & Organic Viticulture & Winemaking

Sustainable & Organic Viticulture & Winemaking

As we’ve all seen by now, climate change is having major impacts on the wine and grape industries, from frosts nearly wiping out the 2021 harvest in France, to repeated fires in California’s North Coast vineyard areas. As consumers are increasingly concerned about the integrity of their foods and beverages, and as increased rainfall also increases disease pressure in the East, how can we imagine a practical sustainability for the future? This workshop brings together top practicioners and researchers to give us some answers.

Greg LaFollette & Lucie Morton

Lucie and Greg ask, and would like you to consider, is ‘natural’ viticulture or winemaking always good, and ‘conventional’ methods always bad or inferior? Not necessarily. Should we attach binary value judgments to methods of viticulture and winemaking, when there are advantages and disadvantages to both “natural” and “conventional” methods? They will discuss the importance of keeping an open mind using examples from both viticulture and winemaking, and how to balance methodologies for your site and situation.

Dave Combs

“Biopesticides” are moving into the mainstream. While earlier versions gained a reputation for only modest efficacy in comparison with conventional synthetic fungicides, new products are proliferating – and offer comparable performance that sometimes rivals the ‘gold standards’ that growers rely upon. In disease management spray trials at Cornell, they have been evaluating biopesticides on vines for several years and the results have been surprising.

Damien Blanchon

At Afton Mountain Vineyard the vineyard is the most important part of their operation. Their goal is to grow healthy plants using a minimum of chemical products in order to harvest good balanced quality grapes as close as possible to ideal chemistry, and to make their wines with very low interventions, respecting the terroir and the expression of it through the finished wines. To be successful with lutte raisonee requires a lot of observation and anticipation of the different disease cycles in the growing season. Damien will detail the many herbal teas they spray at different stages of the growing season, combined with low rates of sulfur and different types of copper. Soil balance is also a key element to healthy vines, therefore they bring compost to each plant every 4-5 years to keep a balanced and living soil. To develop terroir wines, they must be handled with care and the understanding that adaptation will be required with every vintage. In the cellar, they are minimalistic during fermentation and aging. Damion will explain how they try to avoid acidification or tannin addition, respecting the fruit as much as possible, and minimizing new oak so it doesn’t drastically impact the structure and aromatics of the wine.

Karl Hambsch

Loving Cup vineyard manager, Karl Hambsch, will define organic grapegrowing in both legal and practical terms and will share the challenges of the growing grapes in the Mid-Atlantic without synthetic materials. Loving Cup has trialed over 75 varieties of grapes, and Hambsch will explain the criteria he uses to evaluate new varieties for organic compatibility. The critical roles of sanitation and canopy management will be discussed and balanced against the relative inefficacy of organic fungicides. Hambsch will explain Loving Cup’s pest insect management and the threat of invasive insects to the pest-predator equilibrium he has curated. This will dovetail to Loving Cup’s management of undervine vegetation and will underscore the importance of a purposeful, cohesive farm system. Intended audience: Grape growers with some experience.

Karl Hambsch

Loving Cup winemaker Karl Hambsch will define organic winemaking in both legal and practical terms and will share the simple protocols he uses to make vegan, low-sulfite, organic, flaw-free wines. Emphasis will be given to fruit sorting, cellar cleanliness, and oxygen management. The limited availability of organic ingredients and processing aids will be discussed as well as which rigid constraints can limit a winemaker’s creativity. Karl will explain the organic labeling laws and detail the initial application and annual renewal process. He will also address the recent proliferation of “greenwashing” in the market and the resultant devaluation of organic branding. Intended audience: winemakers with some experience.

WORKSHOP 2: Cider

Cider

Hard cider is established as a respectable craft beverage, and in the East, has as long a history as viticulture. Independent craft cideries have grown rapidly in the last decade, with an interest in heirloom apple varieties. This workshop will cover cider fermentation issues and aids, blending for balance, looking at heirloom varieties in the Northeast and Virginia and the styles they make, as well as orchard sustainability issues.

Joe Fiola

While cider and fruit wines are very popular now in the US, understanding and managing basic fermentation challenges is critical for making a balanced and stable cider. Apple juice tends to have high pH and unique acid profiles so amelioration can be tricky. The high pH also makes SO2 management challenging. Apple fermentations are prone to reduction; high volatile acidity, and weird smells/ hazes due to MLF/ LAB, more likely post-fermentation. The good news is that ciders are typically a blend of the major apple types, supplying major tools/options for aroma, flavors, and balance management. This presentation will address fermentation issues and blending for balance and complexity.

Joe Gaynor & Ian Merwin

Black Diamond Farm is a 64-acre farm just west of Cayuga lake. Over the years they have tested almost 200 different apple varieties, and now produce some 130 varieties that suit its market and cider purposes. Ian will discuss the close parallels between cidermaking and vinification, opportunities and challenges for winery diversification into cidermaking, basic requirements for successful cider apple production and utilization, and sensory evaluation of two Finger Lakes craft ciders: semi dry (Black Diamond’s Hickster) and dry (Black Diamond’s Golden Perfection).

Angry Orchard successfully grows 33 bittersweet and heirloom apple varieties that all bring unique taste, acid, and mouthfeel. One of thier goals is to show that fruit specific to cider making can be grown successfully in New York and that the cider made from it is distinctive. Joe’s presentation will follow a similar thread to Ian’s while talking about specific apple varieties, the challenges they have encountered, evidence of reginal terroir and a sampling of their Newtown Pippin, a dry single varietal cider, and Albany Post, a 100% estate semisweet cider.

Tyler Franzen & Megan Hereford

KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid…although blunt, these wise words remain a mantra for our industry. Join us in getting back to the basics for producing clean ciders with minimal work utilizing new tools and techniques. Tyler will be digging into ways to work smarter, not harder, while achieving optimal results. Megan will discuss chitosan, a non-allergenic and non animal-based tool for both traditional and vegan cidermaking. It can replace animal and allergen-based products for juice and cider clarification and microbial stabilization, including gelatin, casein, and lysozyme. She will cover what chitosan is, how it is produced, and what its uses are in modern cidermaking.

Charlotte & Chuck Shelton     

Cider was the essential beverage of the colonial and early national periods of Virginia and the fledgling U.S. The seedling apple orchards that settlers planted primarily for cider produced a huge variety of cultivars, most of which disappeared with the demise of cider after the mid-19th century. Explore the history and chemistry of heirloom apple varieties and see how modern cideries are using these varieties to craft superior ciders. Learn how Albemarle CiderWorks has developed a brand out of a passion for reviving and reintroducing these heirloom varieties.

Greg Peck

With a $1.7B total economic impact in New York State, hard (fermented) cider has become an important value-added product in the alcohol beverage sector. Greg’s research program has conducted cost of production studies, characterized over 375 potential cider apple cultivars, and developed orchard management practices that leads to greater fruit and cider quality. A number of promising cultivars have been identified that appear to have the horticultural performance and juice quality attributes desired by regional cider producers. For high-density orchard systems, they found that many cider apple cultivars should have twice the crop load as culinary cultivars to achieve the greatest long-term yields, juice quality, and profitability. They also found that the use of the exogenous plant growth regulators (ethephon and 1-naphthaleneacetic acid) did not increase return bloom, but 1-naphthaleneacetic acid and aminoethoxyvinylglycine can be used to manage pre-harvest fruit drop and harvest timing. Their future work is focusing on developing cider apple orchards that are best suited to mechanical harvesting. Greg will review the current management practices for growing cider apples in the Northeast and propose a conceptual orchard design and management system for the next generation of cider apple orchards.

WORKSHOP 3: Fining & Filtration

Fining & Filtration

Why should we fine or 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, and a discussion of fining trials, filtration media and logistics.

Molly Kelly

Molly will provide an overview of the major fining agents used to improve wine quality. Pros and cons will be discussed for them. 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 session 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 improve wine quality.

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 comparisons between sheet and lenticular filtration, show an in-depth model on which one is more cost efficient over time, and also discuss the filterability index. As production expands, we will look at which crossflow becomes viable.

Steve DiFrancesco & Phil Plummer

The theory behind fining and filtration is complex and fascinating, but how are these technologies best applied to ensure success in the winery? Join Finger Lakes winemakers Steve DiFrancesco and Phil Plummer for a practical, production-focused discussion of these processes and how Eastern winemakers can employ them to improve both production efficiency and wine quality. Their presentation will step through the winemaking cycle, identifying points in the process where fining and/or filtration may be applied, discussing which agents or technologies are of most use at each stage, and describing laboratory techniques to optimize and evaluate fining and filtration efficacy. Attention will also be paid to troubleshooting and resolving the difficult filtrations with which Eastern winemakers are often confronted.

Tom Payette & Chris Stamp

Bottling preparation is a crucial process and much needs to be considered before a winemaker takes that final step of bottling a wine. With 50+ years of experience and knowledge between them, Chris and Tom will explore the details required when preparing for bottling. Topics to include: wine stability tests pre-bottling, wine analysis, temperature, dissolved gases, closures, prepping the bottling line, inert gas choice(s) and packaging.

Tim Benedict & 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.

 

ENOLOGY

Katie Cook

As low-input winemaking has become more desirable in recent years, winemakers are looking for alternatives to traditional preservatives such as sulfur dioxide, or to minimize its use due to consumer preference, health concerns, or labeling mandates. In recent years, new oenological products have become available that can be used as an alternative to SO2 for both its antimicrobial and antioxidant attributes. Here we will discuss their benefits and usage in the winery.

Lee Hartman & Caitlin Horton

The white Jurançon grape Petit Manseng presents both opportunities and challenges to Mid-Atlantic growers and vintners. It has thick, disease-resistant skins, ripe tropical fruit flavors, high sugars/potential alcohol and high natural acidity. At Bluestone Vineyard they’ve found that Petit Manseng works well in a number of styles, with high acid, high sugar and potential alcohol and loads of aromatics. Lee, winemaker at Bluestone, will tell you how well it can go in a variety of ways, but more importantly when working with Petit Manseng is how to find balance when the grape wants to go in a different direction, depending on the vintage. Horton Vineyards has been growing Petit Manseng since the 1990s. Caitlin, winemaker at Horton, will discuss their handling of grapes from crush pad to bottle, and how these practices earned Horton Vineyards the 2019 Governor’s Cup with a dry Petit Manseng.

Jasha Karasek

Climate change continues to deliver challenging weather patterns to winemaking regions all over the world. Warmer temperatures in summertime are delivering wines with high pH, high Brix, and low TA. To combat this trend, Enartis has developed a new strain of yeast that has the capacity to produce wines with lower alcohol, increased TA, and lower pH. Other features of this yeast include low temperature tolerance, high glycerol production, and low VA in resulting wines. This presentation will showcase trials comparing the use of traditional Saccharomyces cerevisiae and this new strain of yeast. Intended audience: winemakers of all technical experience levels.

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.

Anne Flesch

Anne will guide winemakers toward an easier way to use active dry yeast: from by-passing acclimatization to by-passing rehydration and directly inoculating into the must. She will provide practical information on how to implement it best in wineries for whites and roses, or reds, and answer the most common questions she has received by winemakers around the world on this topic.

Gary He & Matthew Sheehan

Matthew will begin the session by addressing the issue of reductive off-aromas, primarily H2S, in canned wines. Basic chemistry relevant to H2S contributors and mitigation steps will be discussed, but the information presented should be suitable to people of all backgrounds in the wine industry. The effect of different wine compositional factors and quality of the packaging on H2S production will be displayed through experimental results. Matthew will conclude with the next steps and implications of the research.

To support wineries’ growing testing needs, Gary will explain how integrated discrete analyzers can help laboratories consolidate multiparameter tests onto one automation platform. Participants will learn how discrete analyzers, with ease of use and expansion, help to monitor multiple in-process and finished product parameters while enabling productivity improvement, and cost reduction per analysis.

Joy Ting

Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are the two most widely planted red grape varieties in Virginia. Despite characteristics that produce excellent fruit quality and distinctive wines, both varieties can produce fruit with high pH values at harvest, especially when planted in high potassium soils found throughout the state. Tartaric acid additions are common in these varieties, but winemakers differ in their perspectives on the timing and amount of tartaric acid to add. In a series of experiments in 2020 and 2021, the Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange tested the chemical, sensory, and microbial effects of relatively large tartaric acid additions at fruit processing and after malolactic fermentation, using potassium values as a guide. Juice potassium correlated with the magnitude of acid drop and was helpful to predict the amount of tartaric acid to be added. Early additions of tartaric acid led to lower volatile acidity and pH but risked over addition at the expense of other sensory characteristics in the finished wine. Later correction to the same pH values required less tartaric acid addition and received higher sensory scores. Joy will discuss.

Eric Aellen & Larry Coia

The San Marco grape variety, a cross of Teroldego and Lagrein, was developed at the Foundation Edmund Mach in the Trentino region of Italy over 20 years ago. It was imported to the U.S. in 2013 by the Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association (OCPVA) and is currently being grown in New Jersey and several nearby states. The reasons for interest in this grape variety, along with details of its release to the OCPVA and its subsequent propagation and sale by Double A Vineyards, will be presented. Understanding of its cold hardiness, resistance to fungal disease, growing characteristics, productivity and grape and wine quality will be examined and compared to varieties which have excelled in performance in the region such as Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin. Larry will give the presentation, and a sample of San Marco wine will be available for tasting. Eric will present a look into the disease resistance of San Marco. He planted 750 vines in 2021 and has reduced the amount of spray in two of the 10 rows to a once per month spray. The audience will look at pictures of the vines and discuss the 2022 growing season.

Zach Pierce & Ron Wates

In the last decade, the Galician Spanish white Albariño grape has burst onto the Mid-Atlantic wine scene with high-acid, nervy white wines that stand out from the usual suspects for consumers, trade buyers and critics. A Maryland vineyard manager and Virginia winemaker will discuss their experience with this grape and the factors influencing yield, ripening and wine quality.

Soils have a dominating influence on Albariño quality and ripening. Ron will discuss different types of soil profiles as well as soil manipulation, focusing on the removal of topsoil and its effect on crop yield and ripening. He’ll cover pruning, shoot positioning, fruit thinning and how harvest decisions are made. He’ll also share vintages of harvest data and discuss the resulting wines; and review wine making practices and changes over time.

Zach will touch on Ingleside’s history as a vineyard and the history of its Albariño. He’ll include raw data of harvest basics and their fermentation practices, the pros and cons of the area (Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace AVA), and what they see as the future of Albariño in the region.

Dave Collins & Melanie Natoli

Two winemakers with high-scoring red wines to their credit will discuss the issues, challenges and choices in transforming red wine post-fermentation into fine, high-end products, covering post-fermentation maceration to lot selection to blending to time aging. Dave will discuss chemistry and phenolic considerations, barrel management strategies, and blending for balance. Melanie will elaborate on careful oak selection which is critical to extended (17 month) elevage.

MONEY & MANAGEMENT

Tim Benedict & Martin Bucknavage

As directed by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the FDA has issued several major regulations that have impacted the entire food sector. In this session, Tim and Martin will discuss which of these regulations are applicable to wineries and present a practical approach to achieving compliance through the creation, implementation and documentation of policies and procedures.

Jay Borzillo

Jay will provide guidance and tips for a profitable winery operation including the art of pricing your wine. Attention will be given to the secret of working on your business rather than working in your business. He’ll discuss how to educate your customer and manage your business. He will provide the basics of how to determine the cost of each bottle you produce, including an overview of the key metrics comprising the cost accounting process. Discussion will also focus on setting the correct profit margin in conjunction with the development of a working budget. Various tax matters concerning production costs will also be discussed.

VITICULTURE

Imed Dami

Cold damage is the most limiting environmental factor to grape production in the eastern U.S. Grapevines could sustain bud, cane, trunk or whole vine injury, and even death, leading to significant economic losses. In this presentation, Imed will describe cold injury of different vine parts. Based on actual freezing events that occurred in recent years, vine recovery through pruning compensation and trunk retraining will also be presented.  

Lucie Morton

Ampelography is the science of identifying grape varieties by the physical characteristics of the vine, creating a “portrait of a grape variety.” Lucie is one of a handful of certified ampelographers in the world. To sort out accidental field mixes DNA analysis is not practical and it does not differentiate between clones. Clonal selection is an important component of fine wine vineyards and she sees issues in the field with trueness to type where specific clones are concerned. She encourages industry members to learn how to identify key grape varieties by recognizing the unique characteristics of their foliage and gives tips here on how to start.

Greg Loeb

Greg will provide an update on the recent research into managing grape leafroll disease in wine grapes, emphasizing the results of a six-year study conducted in a commercial vineyard in the Finger Lakes region testing the efficacy of spatial roguing (removal of infected grapevines), vector control, or the combination of roguing and vector control. He will include a brief review of the causal agents of grape leafroll disease, its insect vectors and its impact on wine grapes. If time, he will also provide an update on their research to develop new genetic approaches to managing grape leafroll disease by targeting both the insect vectors and the virus. Intended audience: owners, vineyard managers, wine makers, wine pest control advisors and extension educators.

Elisa De Luca

The sustainability of wine production has become the main topic of interest among wine consumers and supply chain operators. With this in mind Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, a world leader in the grape nursery, began a fruitful collaboration with the University of Udine and the Institute of Applied Genomics with the purpose of making new disease-resistant wine grape varieties available to winegrowers. The first 14 Italian resistant varieties, of which VCR is the exclusive licensee, have been obtained through interspecific crosses between sensitive varieties of Vitis Vinifera and a selection bearing the characteristics of resistance, resulting from 50-100 years of crossbreeding. 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 analyzes and tasting sessions, can now be achieved without undermining the quality, the natural character or the flavor of the wines.

Cain Hickey

Sound nutrient management is important to sustain grapevine health and productivity over the lifespan of the vineyard. Mineral nutrient deficiencies limit plant growth and metabolism, while excessive amounts of some nutrients can result in toxicity. Therefore, it is important to quantify vine nutrient status to evaluate and correct vine nutrient levels so optimal vine growth is maintained. Measuring tissue nutrient concentrations can give an indication of the current nutritional status of vines. However, it is important to treat tissue nutrient concentration results as guidelines. Soil sample results, visual observations of the vineyard topography and soil types, and records of vine growth and crop yield will aid in the diagnosis of nutrient imbalances. The information presented should help answer “when, how, and why?” growers should sample grapevine tissues for nutrient analyses.

Eric Aellen & 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. Eric 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 has used at Boxwood Winery in Northern Virginia since 2019. She’s used propane-powered, trailer-mounted heaters called Frost Dragons, and Agro-K’s potassium-based spray KDL to lower the freezing temperature of green tissues. Although not meant to be prescriptive, she will detail what she and her crew did and how well it worked.

Cain Hickey

The Watson training system was developed (by Jerry Watson of Austin County Vineyards) by making intuitive, practical changes to the standard high-wire training system. In an attempt to guide the shoot growth outward, canopy division is aided by two crossarms, each with two wires, on both sides of the fruiting wire. The Watson system employs a divided canopy that promotes grapevine vegetative growth out and over to “rest” on trellis catch wires without requiring intensive training. The system separates clusters from the canopy foliage and may limit cluster touching compared to a standard single-high-wire system. The information presented should be considered if the concept of training system design and practice is desirable in your vineyard.

David Gadoury

Fungal plant pathogens evolved in a world bathed in sunlight, amidst cycles of light and darkness. They have evolved natural biochemical and genetic defenses against intense UV light from the sun, and repair damage to their DNA as it occurs, in a reaction from blue light. Cornell AgriTech leads a team of scientists with the goal of turning this finely-evolved relationship against the pathogen. By using UV at night, when DNA repair is not possible, they have successfully controlled grapevine powdery mildew to a degree comparable to that of the best 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 builders of agricultural robots to produce the first autonomous robotic devices for grape IPM. In parallel studies, UV use has suppressed mites and the sour rot complex. Paired with varietal resistance, the technology is also a useful supplement to suppress grapevine downy mildew. Research indicates that the technology can be applicable to many fungal and bacterial pathogens. David will discuss.


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
  • Lucie Morton, Lucie Morton Consulting, Virginia
  • Tom Payette, Tom Payette Wine Consulting, Virginia

Registration

EWE offers flexible registration options so that you can build a program just for you. From a day spent in the exhibit hall to a full three days of workshop + conference sessions, networking events, and exhibit hall access, EWE has a pass for you. Registration will open November 2.