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Two Major East Coast Conferences Go Virtual

Virginia and New York meetings set their schedules
by Linda Jones McKeeĀ 
February 15, 2021


While both the Virginia Vineyards Association and B.E.V. NY had announced the dates for this year’s virtual conferences several weeks ago, the full schedule of sessions has now been posted on their websites. Both conferences have adjusted the order of their sessions to account for the challenges of conducting virtual presentations.

February 25-26

Virginia Vineyards Association Winter Technical Meeting;; 571-210-0708

In a “normal” year, the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA) conference covers three full days, with a day of pre-meeting workshops followed by two days of educational sessions, as well as wine tastings and reports on research trials by the Virginia Wine Research Exchange, a tradeshow, wine reception, and the presentation of the “Grower of the Year” award. 

This year, the sessions on February 25 and 26 will begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue until noontime. Each afternoon, a workshop will start at 1:00 p.m. and conclude after about three hours. The focus of the virtual conference will be on “Soil Health in the Mid-Atlantic Region.” 

On Thursday, February 25, featured speakers will include:

Laura Lengnick, founder and principal consultant at Cultivating Resilience, a consulting firm in Asheville, NC; “Soil health impacts on farm resilience”

Dr. Tony Wolf, professor of viticulture at Virginia Tech; “Impact of vineyard practices and inputs on soil health”

Jaclyn Fiola, graduate student in critical zone physics and researching vineyard soils at VA Tech; research update on “Impact of soil depth on wine quality potential”

Abdullah Nahiyan, graduate student in plant pathology, VA Tech; research update on “Crown gall research”

A panel discussion on “Applied vineyard management strategies aimed at improving soil health.”

The afternoon New Grower/Vintner Workshop will be led by Dr. Tony Wolf; Tremain Hatch, viticulture research and extension associate, Virginia Tech; and Dr. Elizabeth Chang, enology extension specialist, Virginia Tech.

The schedule for Friday, February 26, will include:

Heather Leach, extension associate in entomology, Pennsylvania State University, presenting an update on Spotted Lanternfly

Dr. Elizabeth Chang, Tremain Hatch, and Dr. Joy Ting, research enologist and exchange coordinator at Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange, providing a research update on sentinel vineyards and the Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange

A roundtable discussion on “Vineyard labor tracking”

The Virginia Vineyards Association’s business meeting

The presentation of the Grower of the Year Award by Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Bettina Ring.

The afternoon workshop on grape disease management will feature Dr. Mizuho Nita, Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology (grapes), Virginia Tech.

March 3-5


B.E.V. NY is usually a three-day conference in February for New York’s grape and wine industry, with one day devoted to business topics, a second day centered on enology sessions, and a third day featuring talks on viticultural subjects. Because this year’s conference is virtual, the organizers from Cornell’s Extension Enology Lab, the Finger Lakes Grape Program, and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University have rearranged the program so that each of the three days of the conference will have business, enology and viticulture sessions.

Business sessions are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; enology sessions from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and viticulture sessions from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (all times are Eastern standard time). 

The organizers also used the virtual conference format as an opportunity to include many speakers from New York State as well as two speakers in Germany, one in England, nine in California, and one each in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Oregon.


Sessions on Wednesday March 3 will begin with a “Plenary Panel” conducting a “Wine industry business and policy update.” Participants will include Pat Hooker, deputy director for food and agriculture in the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; Steve J. Gross, vice-president of state relations at the California Wine Institute; Jim Trezise, president of WineAmerica; Gregg McConnell, farm business consultant at Farm Credit East, ACA; and Julie C. Suarez, associate dean for land-grant affairs at Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

On both March 4 and 5, the business sessions will feature “keynote addresses.” On Thursday, March 4, Juliana Colangelo, vice president and West Coast director of Colangelo & Partners in San Francisco and Dale Stratton, president of the Wine Market Council and vice president of strategic insights for the wine and spirits division of Constellation Brands, will present “Tools and tips for building a successful wine brand.” 

The topic of the business keynote address on Friday, March 5 will be “New York wines and our place on the world stage.” The discussion will focus on the market challenges and opportunities facing New York wineries as they “forge a path to becoming globally recognized as a premier wine region.” The speakers include Jancis Robinson, the internationally recognized British wine journalist who currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and Evan Dawson, author of Summer in a Glass: The Coming Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes and host of Connections on the NPR station WXXI in Rochester, NY.

Two workshops will follow the panel or keynote addresses on the three days of the conference. 


The enology session on March 3 will feature a panel of winemakers and growers from New York and Pennsylvania who will consider the question, “When should we pick the grapes?” The panel will aim “to provide some tools for each party [growers and winemakers] to better communicate their goals and fears for the grapes and subsequent wine so harvest can be as productive and stress-free as possible.” 

On March 4, cold stabilization of wine will be the topic for Dr. Patricia Howe, postdoctoral scientist at the University of California, Davis department of viticulture and enology; Dr. Gavin Sacks, professor and associate chair of the department of food science at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, professor of viticulture and enology at the University of California, Davis. 

During the enology session on Friday, March 5, Nova Cadamatre, director of winemaking in Napa, CA for Constellation Brands, and Ian Berry, winemaker at Barry Family Cellars in Burdett, NY will consider MOSS – materials other than stainless steel – for wine storage, including concrete, clay and other possibilities.


Two speakers from Germany, Dr. Hans Schultz, president of Hochschule Geisenheim University in Geisenheim, Germany and Dominik Sona, general manager and winemaker at Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht in Kallstadt Germany will participate in the viticulture sessions on Wednesday, March 3 that will focus on “What climate change might mean to our vines and lakes.” Their topic will be “How climate change is impacting Germany’s vineyards.” They will be followed by Dr. Lisa Cleckner, director of the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva, NY discussing “Lake health and water quality in a changing climate.”

The viticulture session on “Integrated pest management topics for Eastern vineyards” has been approved for 2.0 pesticide recertification credits by New York State. Topics covered on March 4 will include the spotted lanternfly in NY; downy mildew; weed management and herbicide resistance; strategies to manage field and hedge bindweed to reduce glyphosate use; and a new sustainable viticulture program for NY.

The final program on March 5 will focus on new practices and technologies to improve vineyard management. Dr. Terry Bates, senior research associate at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, NY; Joseph Amsili, extension associate on the Cornell Soil Health Team, and Dan Olmstead, coordinator of the Network for Environment and Weather Applications at Cornell AgriTech will talk about “innovative, science-driven and approachable management tools and strategies to meet the needs of the present and help sustain our industry for future generations.”


Pre-registration is required for the B.E.V. NY conference. There is a fee of $75 per person, or $100 per person if the registrant wants recordings of the program. Registration is free for members of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. Members can renew their membership or join online to take advantage of the free B.E.V. NY offer.

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