20th Annual Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Trade Show

Featured Speakers

Karen Purves

Karen Purves

Purves' inspiring, engaging and witty style blends relatable personal stories, leading edge research and proven solutions to impact your attendees so they can leave a program saying their time was truly well spent. As an award winning International Speaker with particular expertise in how language affects emotions, Karen knows how to connect with audiences as few others can. In mathematical form, Karen could be = Energizer® Bunny® + Tina Fey + Wikipedia.

In addition to being described as “one of the best” or “favorite” speakers of entire conferences dozens of times, other attendee comments include: “Refreshingly honest”, “contagiously enthusiastic”, “attention grabber and keeper”, “breath of fresh air” and giving “real answers to real life”.

Karen combines a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Master’s Degree in Environmental Public Policy and over 20 years business experience along with extensive training at “The Second City” to leave audiences feeling energized, inspired and empowered. Karen also has the rare distinction of being a 3-time game show winner!

Throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia - from Fortune 100 companies to associations and government - Karen guarantees that attendees will receive useful material, in an engaging way, and practical tools to implement immediately! More information about Purves.

Drew Horton

Drew Horton

Enology Specialist, University of Minnesota Grape Breeding and Enology Project

Drew Horton has been active in the wine industry for over 25 years having started as a wine salesman, and then as a winemaker.  With a bachelors in anthropology and early career experience working in kitchens, Horton brings a unique perspective at the intersection of food, culture, and of course wine. Horton has produced vintages in Santa Barbara, California before moving to Minnesota in 2010 where he began working with cold-hardy, hybrid grapes.  In 2015, Horton moved from commercial winemaking to providing outreach as a field specialist for the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.

Horton will also engage with and provide University and Extension resources to winemakers across the state.  This includes troubleshooting, planning, and evaluating winemaking processes for Minnesota’s Farm Wineries. He has expertise in fermentation techniques, barrel-ageing, and blending. 

Additionally, he intends to offer courses and workshops to appeal to the needs of wine makers, from amateur to professional. “I’m a hands-on winemaker, always looking for the best, often homemade, solution to solve winemaker issues,” Horton said. More information about Horton

G. Stanley Howell

G. Stanley Howell

Professor Emeritus of Viticulture and Enology, Michigan State University

After arriving at Michigan State University in 1969, Stan Howell focused on cool-climate viticulture with the goal of assessing which cultivars were compatible with Michigan’s climate and evaluating the wines from those cultivars. Since he retired, he has been working with the VESTA (Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance) program to develop viticulture and enology courses. More information about Howell.

Richard Smart

Richard Smart

So-called “The Flying Vine Doctor”

Richard Smart has been involved with viticulture since 1966, as a viticulturist teaching, conducting research and consulting with growers. 

He graduated from Sydney University with Honours in Agricultural Science in 1966 and, subsequently earned another three degrees. He earned a M.Sc (Hons) from Macquarie University in Sydney for his studies of sunlight use by vineyards.

Smart received his doctorate from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York with Nelson Shaulis of Geneva, New York. Smart was awarded a D. Sc. Agric. degree by the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 1995, in recognition of research into canopy management effects on vineyard yield and quality.

Most of Smart’s career has been in viticultural research and teaching, at Griffith, NSW, at Roseworthy College in South Australia (including a period as Dean, Faculty of Oenology), and also as Government Viticultural Scientist in New Zealand. With his team of co-workers he helped lay the viticultural foundations for an emerging, quality-oriented and internationally competitive wine industry.

Consulting has been a full time occupation since 1991. Smart has expertise in canopy management to improve wine quality and vineyard yield, choice of site, variety, rootstock, irrigation and nutrition management. He now lives in Cornwall, United Kingdom. Continue reading.

Ed Swansin

Ed Swanson

Grape Breeder and Owner of Cuthills Vineyard

Ed Swanson is the owner of Cuthills Vineyard located in Pierce, Nebraska. Opening in 1994, it is Nebraska’s first winery. Swanson has been making wine in Nebraska for over 30 years. He also started his own grape breeding program in 1996. His first red grape, Temparia, was released in 2006. Swanson has several other grape varieties that look promising for Nebraska's cold climate.  He breeds grapes that not only withstand Nebraska's harsh and erratic climate, but also produce some phenomenal wines. More information about Ed Swanson

Marty Fischer

Marty Fischer

President, CEO, Agrothermal Systems

Marty Fischer has been President and CEO of Agrothermal Systems since 2007. Agrothermal Systems is pioneering the usage of heat in agriculture as a means to increase yields, reduce pesticide needs, improve crop qualities and manage climatic challenges such as drying off crops after rains and adding sugar late in the season when target maturity slows. More information about Agrothermal Systems