- Homepage for the Wine Industry

Wine Conferences East of the Rockies Go Virtual in 2021

by Linda Jones McKee 
January 15, 2021

With the Covid-19 crisis still limiting or preventing in-person gatherings, many wine conferences and educational programs have changed to virtual schedules for enology, viticultural, and wine marketing/business meetings. While online sessions are obviously not the same as seeing and talking with speakers and other attendees in person, there are some advantages to “attending” virtual programs. Conference organizers have the option to include presenters based on their knowledge on topic under discussion, not how much it would cost to bring them to a specific location. And there certainly are a wide variety of virtual programs that anyone in the wine industry can attend, often at no cost.

January to April

Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forums

Cornell and Penn State Extension have planned a monthly webinar series, the Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forums, that will cover the latest in research results in viticulture and enology and focus on concepts that underlie the practical aspects of growing grapes and making wine. Please register in advance at the website above. Previous sessions are available online at that website.

The following sessions are currently scheduled and will be held from 3:00-4:30 p.m. (EST):

  • January 20: “Grapevine nutrition: nutrient requirements, tissue tests, & mycorrhizae,” presented by Paul Schreiner, USDA Agricultural Research Station, Corvallis, OR
  • February 3: “How research has changed winemaking practice at small to mid-sized wineries – East and West,” presented by Thomas Henick-Kling, Washington State University, and Peter Bell, Fox Run Vineyards, NY.
  • February 17: “Production practices affecting fruit quality in cold-hardy “Minnesota” cultivars,” presented by Amaya Atucha, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Annie Klodd, University of Minnesota Extension.
  • March 10: “Winemaker roundtable: Rosé wine production,” presented by Emily Pelton, Veritas Vineyard & Winery, VA; Sarah Troxell, Galen Glen Winery, PA; and David Breeden, Sheldrake Point Vineyards, NY.
  • March 24: “Spring frost mitigation strategies with chemical products and delayed pruning,” presented by Imed Dami, Ohio State University, and Michela Centinari, Pennsylvania State University.
  • April 14: “Game-changing innovations every small winery should know,” presented by Clark Smith, WineSmith Consulting, CA.
  • April 28: “Towards clean fruit and foliage: new findings on resistance management and spray scheduling to manage grapevine diseases,” presented by Mengjun Hu, University of Maryland, and Tim Miles, Michigan State University.

January 12-14, 19-21, 26-28

Texas Hill Country Wine Symposium 

The virtual Texas Hill Country Wine Symposium will feature four tracks, with vineyard, winery, sales & marketing, and business each having one full day of programs, and there will be two new tracks this year, with a day for hospitality staff and one for new wineries. In addition, every Wednesday between session days, the symposium will host Exhibitor Days with sessions on Zoom to connect suppliers with winemakers and grape growers.

There are three different types of registration for the conference. It costs $150 for an All Access Pass that includes all 18 “Live” sessions. A Day Pass Live is available for $30 per day, which includes three Live sessions for that day and presentations emailed afterward. Access to the 18 recorded sessions available after the symposium can be purchased for $75.

January 19-20

Iowa Specialty Producers Conference

The Iowa Wine Growers Association (IWGA) has held an annual conference since 2001, and this is the second year that the IWGA has partnered with the Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association to hold the Iowa Specialty Producers Conference. Six program tracks will be offered virtually with viticulture, enology, fruit, vegetable, business/marketing, and specialty crop sessions. 

Speakers at the viticulture sessions will include Fritz Westover, Virtual Vineyard Academy, on diagnosing and treating leaf disorder symptoms; Annie Klodd, University of Minnesota, on nutrient testing and calculating fertilizer rates; and Joe Hannan, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach on dealing with Japanese Beetles. Enology sessions will feature Aude Watrelot, Iowa State University on enhancement of phenolic compounds content in Marquette red wines using a mechanical treatment; Rachel Allison, Cornell University, on flavor chemistry and canned wines; and Denise Gardner, Denise Gardner Winemaking, speaking on how to assess and determine an action plan for problem wines.

January 18-22

VinCO Virtual Conference

The 2021 virtual VinCO conference has been organized by the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE). Each session will have a live chat and Q&A feature. January 18 is a two-part tasting room manager workshop with Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, as the moderator/speaker. Sessions on January 19, 20 and 21 are a mixture of enology, viticulture and business/marketing presentations that feature a wide variety of speakers from the Finger Lakes in NY to California. The final day, January 22, includes two sessions on marketing and sales, one run by Dr. Natalia Velikova, associate professor of hospitality and retail management at Texas Tech University and associate director of the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute. The second session will be conducted by Jim Trezise, president of WineAmerica, and Meaghan Frank, vice president and general manager at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, NY.

Registration ends at 5:00 p.m. (MST) on January 15. The cost for Monday’s session is $10 for CAVE members, $20 for non-members; the cost for the following four days is $50 for CAVE members, $80 for non-members. Those who are registered will have access to all session recordings for the next month.

January 21, 2:00-3:30 p.m. (EST)

VaTech-VWRE Wine Sensory Analysis Workshop, Part 2

Co-hosted by Dr. Beth Chang, enology extension specialist at Virginia Tech, and Dr. Joy Ting, research enologist with the Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange, Part 2 of this workshop series will feature hands-on activities relevant to sensory evaluation of wine, such as descriptive analysis and the use of the wine aroma wheel. For additional details, to register for this session, or to watch Part 1’s foundational webinar on the topic, please visit 

February 1, 1:00-3:00 p.m. (EST)

Georgia Wine Producers Annual Conference

The annual meeting of the Georgia Wine Producers will be held the afternoon of February 1. 

February 4 

Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange Sensory Session

The Winemakers Research Exchange (WRE) is a research cooperative for wineries in Virginia that are interested in “enhancing wine quality and economic profitability through the evaluation of different vineyard and winemaking practices on the chemical and sensory characteristics of finished wine.” This year 34 projects were completed by wineries located all over Virginia. The following sensory sessions are scheduled to allow winemakers from across the state to taste the resulting experimental wines.

  • February 4: Co-fermentation
  • February 11: Stabulation and microoxygenation
  • March 4: Carbonic maceration and whole cluster fermentation
  • March 18: Nutrient addition strategies with special guest Dr. Amanda Stewart (Virginia Tech)
  • April 15: SO2 management and measurement
  • April 29: Chaptalization
  • May 13: Ambient fermentation
  • May 27: Managing pH and potassium in Petit Verdot
  • February 10-11; 4:30-9:00 p.m. (CST) each day

Cold Climate Conference

The two-day virtual Cold Climate Conference hosted by the Minnesota Grape Growers Association will begin with a marketing/tourism session with Lori Peterson, the metro regional manager at Explore Minnesota Tourism and Xinyi Qian, a tourism specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension. Enology topics on February 10 will feature Katie Cook on “Yeasts for wine style and types,” John Taylor on “Sweetening and bottling prep,” and Jon Johnson will look at “Presses and processing equipment.” Speakers on the second day will be Annamarie Howard on malolactic fermentation, Joe Lutomske on screwcaps and corks, and Aude Watrelot on the proper use of SO2. The viticulture tracks will have Dr. Tony Wolf, Fritz Westover and Annie Klodd speaking on February 10, and Dr. Tim Martinson from Cornell, Dr. Maria Smith, Ohio State, and Dr. Cain Hickey of Penn State participating on the second day.

There is a fee of $50 to join the Cold Climate Conference for both days or $25 for one day. 

February 15-17

Ohio Grape & Wine Conference

Each day of the Ohio Grape & Wine Conference (OGWC) will focus on a different aspect of the wine industry. Enology sessions on February 15 will feature Q&A discussions with Dr. Andy Reynolds on “Frozen materials (other than grapes) - their association with floral taint and mitigation by choice of yeast strain and harvesting strategy;” Dr. Anna Katharine Mansfield, Cornell University, on “Tannin and color management in regional red wines;” and Jasha Karasek of Enartis USA on “Recent advances in wine stabilization: how to use enological tools to achieve tartrate stability.”

Speakers at the viticulture sessions on February 16 will include Tom Plocher on “Developing new wine grapes for the Midwest in the era of climate change” and Dr. Bruce Reisch, Cornell University, on “Cornell wine grape breeding and the ‘VitisGen2’ national project” in the morning, and Heather Leech, Penn State University, on “Is it really that bad? Preparing for the new invasive spotted lanternfly in Ohio vineyards” in the afternoon.

Four Q&A sessions focused on wine marketing will take place on February 17. Sharon Mull and Shaun Powers will give an update from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control; Jeffery Ryznar will talk on “Marketing to Gen X, the Millennials and preparing for the Z’s;” Jenn Barbee will discuss “Seven secrets for mid-week demand during uncertain times;” and Scott Harvey will hold a Q&A on “Conducting virtual tastings: keys to developing a successful program, build loyalty and sell wine.”

February 23; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

North Carolina Winegrowers Association Annual Conference

This year’s virtual conference of the North Carolina Winegrowers Association will feature one day of virtual sessions on marketing, business, enology and viticulture for members of the North Carolina Winegrowers Association. The NCWA annual Conference for 2022 has been scheduled for January 27-30 at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem, NC.

February 23-24, March 2-4

Texas Wine and Grape Growers Conference

The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association virtual conference take place on five days: 

  • February 23: vineyard management sessions
  • February 24: winemaking and winery management sessions 
  • March 2: tasting room sessions and a virtual Gold Medal tasting 
  • March 3: marketing, promotions and business sessions
  • March 4: A vineyard pesticide session focused on laws and regulations. The association’s general meeting, including the swearing in of new Board members, as well as regional meetings, will also happen on March 4.  

February 25-26

Virginia Vineyards Association Winter Technical Meeting

The featured topic for the 2021 virtual conference will be “Soil Health in the Mid-Atlantic Region.” The full schedule, additional details, and registration will be available on the website in mid-January.

March 3-5


March 18; 12:00-1:00 p.m. (EST)

Penn State University Extension Forum

A forum titled “Solar power on the farm” will discuss the opportunities for farm owners to utilize solar photovoltaic systems as an energy source. Topics will include system configurations, principles of operation, economics, the pros and cons of leasing vs. owning, and program funding opportunities that can help cover costs. Speakers will include Dan Ciolkosz and Siobhan Fathel, Pennsylvania State University, and Ed Johnstonbaugh, Penn State Extension.

March 20-21 and 27-28

Montana Grape & Winery Association 7th Annual Conference

July 7-9, 2021

American Society for Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section

The 2021 ASEV-Eastern Section meeting will be virtual, and the schedule will be determined in February. The 2022 conference will be held in Bloomington, MN at the Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington on July 13-15, 2022.

Postponed Conferences

March 16-18, 2021

Eastern Winery Exposition 

The 2021 conference has been postponed until March 22-24, 2022 and will be held in Syracuse, NY.

July 12-17, 2020 conference postponed until July 17-21, 2022

International Cool Climate Wine Symposium 2022

The conference in 2022 will be held at Brock University, St. Catharines, ON.

Previously held conferences

November and December, 2020

Eastern Viticulture and Enology Forums

November 18: “Sources and Sinks: How viticultural practices modify carbon assimilation and allocation,” presented by Cain Hickey, Penn State University and Tim Martinson, Cornell University.

December 16: “Modeling and monitoring how grapevines gain and lose cold hardiness,” presented by Jason Londo, Cornell AgriTech, and Jim Willwerth, Brock University.

January 12-13

Maryland Grape & Wine Industry Annual Conference, sponsored by the Maryland Grape Growers Association, the Maryland Wineries Association and the University of Maryland Extension

Past Conferences: no dates set in 2021

Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Alliance Annual Conference

Indiana Hort Conference and Expo

Show Me Grape and Wine Conference and Symposium

North Dakota Grape & Wine Association Annual Meeting and Conference

Oklahoma Grape and Wine Conference;

Copyright© 1994-2021 by Wine Communications Group. All Rights Reserved. Copyright protection extends to all written material, graphics, backgrounds and layouts. None of this material may be reproduced for any reason without written permission of the Publisher. Wine Business Insider, Wine Business Monthly, Grower & Cellar News and Wine Market News are all trademarks of Wine Communications Group and will be protected to the fullest extent of the law.