Wed., April 17, 2024
Miletta Vista Vineyard
9 am – 3 pm

Lunch is included for NWGGA members. $15 for non-members. Pre-registration is requested to help with planning for lunches.

Miletta Vista Vineyard is just north of St. Paul, Nebraska, 1732 Hwy 281 (telephone 308-754-4416). Drive through St. Paul heading north and within a mile or so, you’ll see lots of vines on the right!

Co-sponsored by the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program and the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association, this FREE field day will be a great kick-off to the 2024 vineyard season and an educational opportunity that you won’t want to miss! A featured speaker of the field day will be Ed Swanson, who will discuss two of his new grapes (including Merchette) that are currently a part of Miletta Vista’s grape production vineyards, grafted there by Ed. In addition, topics will include a look at Mick McDowell’s retrofitting several of his trellis systems; different types of posts and their pros and cons; a discussion of Itasca and its “superpowers”; early season vineyard tasks, and much more. DON’T MISS THIS GREAT FREE EVENT!

How do I register? Please call, text or email Paul Read at pread1@unl.edu or 402-540-9309 or Steve Gamet at sgamet1@unl.edu

We’ll look forward to seeing you on the 17th!


Monday, June 26, 2023
Capitol View Winery, Roca, Nebraska

The University of Nebraska Viticulture Program (UNVP) in collaboration with the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association NWGGA) invites you to an exciting field day to be held on June 26, 2023 at Capitol View Winery, Roca, Nebraska.

Following are some of the highlights of the program:

  • Viewing and evaluation of the UNVP High Tunnel Vinifera Project.
  • Viewing Ed Swanson’s new cultivar, ‘Merchette’ grown in the high tunnel and in the field (vineyard).
  • Ed will talk about several other breeding lines he has “in the pipeline.”
  • UNVP personnel will discuss early summer vineyard tasks.Vineyard Floor Management and trellis adjustments.
  • Other timely topics and a tour of the winery may be arranged.
  • Lunch will be included in the registration fee (costs and details will be announced soon).

Questions? Email or phone Paul Read at pread1@unl.edu or 402-540-9309 and Steve Gamet at sgamet1@unl.edu

This all-day field day will be the first of several educational programs that will be brought to you by the collaborative efforts of the UNVP and the NWGGA.

Summary of Evaluations from Harvest Field Day at Oak Creek Vineyards in Aug. 8, 2022

% increase in knowledge after Field Day% rating of Good or Excellent after Field Day
1. Grape Cultivars 100 86
2. Harvest Timing 100 57
3. Crop Estimation 86 86
4. Late Summer Tasks 100 43
5. Harvest Labor 86 57
6. Machine Harvesting 86 75
7. Design of Mechanization 86 86
8. Post-Harvest Management 100 70


  • 70% of participants indicated that they will plan to change or adopt new practices as a result of attending the Field Day.
  • Examples of likely changes:
    • Trellis design (5)
    • Vineyard Planning (4)
    • Better Harvest Timing (2)
  • Things liked about the Field Day:
    • Interaction with fellow growers
    • Time for Q & A
    • Knowledgeable speakers
  • Walking through the vineyard

August 8, 2022
Oak Creek Vineyards

8:30 am–9 am: Registration and check-in
9 am–3:30 pm: Program

The University of Nebraska Viticulture Program (UNVP) in cooperation with the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association (NWGGA) will be conducting an in-person Harvest Field Day on August 8, at Oak Creek Vineyards near Raymond, Nebraska. 

Lunch is provided FREE, courtesy of the NWGGA’s education program funding.

Topics will include:

  • Pre-harvest Considerations
  • Harvest Challenges (including labor)
  • Viewing of the machine harvester (in action, if grapes are ready!)
  • Review of Crop Estimation (help the wineries with planning)
  • Progress of the new Free Grape Quality Test Service program
  • Post-harvest Management, including diseases and vine nutrition  

Come prepared to learn from UNVP personnel and from each other.

Directions to Oak Creek Vineyard 

From James Arthur Vineyards, go west ¼ mile on West Raymond Rd to NW 27th Street. Turn south head 1 mile to West Mill Rd.  Turn west on West Mill Rd go 1/2 mile, just past the Oak Creek Cemetery there is a drive heading north,  this is Oak Creek Vineyard. Take this road until you come to a steel building. 

From Highway 79 turn east on West Mill Rd  (one mile south of the West Raymond Rd, Raymono’s Pizza and Mill Road Auto Service is located on the NE corner of intersection)  head East 1 ½ miles. Drive is on the north side of the road just before the Oak Creek Cemetery. 

Grape Quality Test Service Available at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Science Program and Viticulture Program have been awarded a USDA grant, which aims to help grape growers test their fruit quality in the weeks leading up to harvest. Using this information grape growers and wine makers will be assured that only high quality grapes enter the winery.

  1. What we test? We not only test the 3 major parameters: 1) °Brix, 2) pH, 3) titratable acidity, but also test other parameters such as color, texture, polyphenols to comprehensively determine the maturity of your grapes as the season progresses.
  2. How to submit your samples?
    1. Sign up on the participation list below indicating how many cultivars you want to test. Send this form to both of the two contact persons below by doing a reply to all to this email and adding your information (Dr. Paul Read and Dr. Chagmou Xu).
    2. We will mail berry shipping boxes to you ahead if needed.
    3. Collect your grapes (about 100 berries randomly selected across the vineyard for each cultivar) around 3 times for the test, starting from 2 weeks after veraison, then 1 week after each. We will monitor the quality change until the fruit is ripe and harvested.
    4. After each collection, overnight shipping can be done with our pre-paid label, or drop-off directly to the UNL Food Processing Center at the UNL Innovation Campus if preferred. 
  3. How many cultivars can I submit? There is no limitation on the test service, but up to 5 cultivars for each grower will be covered on the shipping cost.
  4. About the report? Email reports will be sent only to you within 2 days of receiving the fruit samples. It is a third-party report provided by the UNL Food Processing Center, which will include accumulated fruit quality changes since the first week.
Contact persons: Changmou Xu (cxu13@unl.edu), UNL Food Processing Center, and Paul Read (pread1@unl.edu), University of Nebraska Viticulture Program


Vintage 2021 has been challenging, with many ups and downs. However, on balance, it has been a good year for many Nebraska growers and wineries. Reports of crop reduction or loss caused by herbicide drift, hail and birds have been frequent, but balanced by excellent crops, especially with many of the white wine grapes such as Edelweiss, La Crescent, Frontenac Gris and Itasca. Many feared that the extreme cold temperatures experienced in February would have resulted in trunk, cordon, and bud damage, but this fear was mostly unrealized, probably because of the gradual hardening that occurred in the preceding autumn months.

Read Full Story

Viticulture Program Field Day
July 19, 2021
Homestead Prairie Vineyards near Crete, Nebraska

Join us for the first University of Nebraska Viticulture Program (UNVP) sponsored field day in over two years at Homestead Prairie Vineyards near Crete, Nebraska.

Featured topics include:

  • Transitioning trellis systems to High Wire systems. Why? Less labor and easier to employ mechanical harvesting. We’ll see how the Prokop family have approached these changes.
  • UNVP Crop Reduction Study. Instituted during the pandemic on two other commercial vineyards, we have used the Frontenac Gris vines in this vineyard, with treatments that included no reduction (Control), 25% reduction and 50% reduction. This research is addressing the question of whether “conventional wisdom” that smaller crops translate into better wine quality applies to our hybrid grape cultivars grown in Nebraska.
  • Crop Estimation. Wineries want to know how much crop their suppliers are able to provide and grape growers want to know if projections of yield are accurate. Such estimations help wineries prepare for the harvest season, how many tanks are needed, how many staff are going to be needed, and many other logistical questions can be helped by having an accurate estimation of potential crop yield.
  • Mid-summer vineyard management practices. Tucking for VSP, combing for High Wire Cordon, hedging and fruit zone leaf removal are some of the vegetation management issues that will be discussed.
  • Timing of leaf removal (if necessary) and cluster thinning timing will be discussed, including the rationale for either practice and whether it is desirable for all cultivars.
  • Tissue testing. When is it best done? How should the samples be taken?
  • And much more! Bring any questions that you may have including specimens of insect damage, diseased leaf samples, or other issues that you would like addressed.

WHERE: Homestead Prairie Vineyards owned by the Prokop family located near Crete, Nebraska. Directions: if coming from the north, go south of Crete on Highway 103, turn west (right) on K Road (two miles south of the Smithfield Plant). The vineyard is on the north side of the road 3 miles west of Highway 103. If coming from the south on Highway 103, Road K is 4 miles north of Wilber.

WHEN: Monday, July 19, 2021, with registration and chatting with other attendees at 9:00 a.m. Program begins at 9:30 a.m. There will be an opportunity over the lunch break to interact with our hosts and other attendees to share experiences and insights that go into making this Nebraska grape and wine industry so great.

COST: Registration will be $20.00 for the first attendee from a family or enterprise and $10.00 for each additional participant. Lunch and hand-outs are included in the registration fee. Attendees can pay at the vineyard, but we request that you pre-register so that we can plan for lunches. Register by email to pread@unl.edu or sgamet@unl.edu or by calling 402-416-9763.


Presentation by Dr. Paul Read.

Nebraska's Grape Harvest Small but Good Quality

Although not affected by fire and the smoke as was the California grape crop, Nebraska’s 2020 grape crop was affected by a variety of weather-related events. Read article by Paul E. Read, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Professor of Horticulture and Viticulturist.


2020 Current issues in the vineyard

Watch our videos of current issues in the vineyard filmed at Whiskey Run Creek Winery! Topics include Japanese beetles, veraison explained, grapevine trunk disease recovery, trellising and an examination of the potential of grape production in high tunnels.

Videos of current issues in the vineyard

Videos of high tunnel grapes

Harvest at Oak Creek Vineyard

Watch the harvest at Oak Creek Vineyard near Raymond, Nebraska with Paul Read, University of Nebraska–Lincoln professor and viticulturist.

Oak Creek Vineyard Harvest

A Sampling of Wine Grape Cultivars Being Tested

by the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program

Download  A Sampling of Wine Grape Cultivers Being Tested PDF file written by Paul E. Read, Professor of Horticulture/Viticulturist, and Stephen Gamet, Research Technologist. 

2020 Viticulture Workshop

Saturday, March 28, 2020
Thorpe Opera House, 457 D Street, David City, Nebraska

The Nebraska Winery & Grape Growers Association hosted the spring workshop with topics such as soil health, vine nutrition and building an effective spray program will be discussed.


by the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program

Workshop was cancelled. Pruning advice for beginners will be provided at this half-day field day at the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program’s East Campus plantings. Although this field day is intended to assist new growers and would-be grape growers, it may serve as a refresher for growers with various levels of experience. It also should be helpful to people with home grape plantings.  University of Nebraska Viticulture Program staff will be on hand for advice and demonstrations.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Southern Heights Presbyterian Church, Community Room
40th Street and Old Cheney Road, Lincoln, NE

Dr. Dean S. Volenberg, Viticulture and Winery Operations Specialist from the University of Missouri Grape and Wine Institute, will be the featured speaker at the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program Fall Workshop.

Volenberg brings a rich background to the workshop. He served as the grape and wine specialist at the University of Wisconsin where he conducted research and extension programs that have helped grow the Wisconsin industry significantly, before taking on the responsibilities of Viticulture and Winery Operations specialist at the University of Missouri. 

He is well known for his in-depth research into grape diseases, including several lesser-known pathogens that are impacting the Midwest industry and is the co-author of a Wine Business Monthly article on grapevine trunk diseases and winter injury. Richard Smart is the lead author.

Although specific details of Volenberg’s topics and titles are yet to be determined, he will share his insights and advice on a variety of subjects, including how the Missouri grape and wine program has flourished and what can we learn from their success stories. 

He will also present research information that will help Nebraska and Midwest grape growers to better understand the challenges associated with fungal foliar and trunk diseases, viruses such as Red Blotch, winter injury, drought problems and their impact on winter survival and damage. 

In addition, first year results of the University of Nebraska High Tunnel Table Grape Research, crop load adjustment and grapevine trunk diseases will be discussed.  Local growers and winery folks will participate in panel or round-table discussions as well. 

Oak Creek Vineyard Harvest

Viticulture Program Tailgates

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 – 4 p.m. until dark

WHERE: Garden area east of the Law College, East Campus, University of Nebraska

Program is for anyone interested in growing grapes commercially or in a home garden setting.

This program will give attendees a first look at the new University of Nebraska Viticulture Program’s High Tunnel Table Grape project. This project, partially funded by the USDA/Nebraska Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program, examines the potential for Nebraska growers to commercially produce table grapes under the protection of a high tunnel.  Five seedless table grape cultivars were planted in a replicated experimental trial in a high tunnel (approximately 117 by 37 feet) on the University East Campus Garden area. In addition to the five basic cultivars (‘Canadice’, ‘Marquis’, ‘Mars’, ‘Somerset Seedless’ and ‘Thomcord’), we also planted Cornell’s new table grape introduced in 2018 named Everest’ as border plants. Because the test grapes are in their third growing season, people attending will be able to get a good look at how these cultivars perform in terms of fruit set, cluster and berry characteristics, vigor and disease tolerance.

Attendees will also be able to visit our long-standing nearby wine grape experimental vineyard in which over 30 cultivars and breeder selections are being tested, along with different trellis systems, anchoring approaches, “Econoline” wire and canopy management techniques, among other aspects of these many grape examples.  University of Nebraska Viticulture Program personnel will be on hand to answer questions and provide insights into both the high tunnel table grape project and the ongoing wine grape research projects.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 – 4 – 7 p.m.

WHERE: George Spencer Tasting Room, 7155 Pawnee Rd, Gibbon, Nebraska

Purchased in 2013 the vineyard and tasting rooms both have undergone renovations. Most of the vines in the vineyard have been cut back and been retrained. We will look at how that process was implemented and how it has turned out. Their two vineyards by Gibbon have also been flooded twice this year. We will  visit two and possibly three different vineyards to see the problems resulting from the flooding and then see what can be done to alleviate these problems. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 – 4 p.m. until dark

WHERE: Cellar 426 Wines and Vines, 1402 Dennis Dean Rd, Ashland, Nebraska

Cellar 426 has a gorgeous view from their winery building. We will see their soon to be netted vines and have a chance for great discussions and questions answered.

See the Cellar 426 Winery web site (https://cellar426.com/) for further directions and a map.

For more information, contact Paul Read at 402-472-5136 or pread@unl.edu or Steve Gamet at sgamet@unl.edu.

Smart Viticulture Workshop

Thursday, June 20 at Soaring Wings Vineyard, 17111 S. 138th St., Springfield, Nebraska

This workshop will provide an outstanding program to learn from Richard Smart, a.k.a. “The Flying Vine Doctor” for interested grape folks from Nebraska and beyond. He will lead the following tentative program at Soaring Wings Vineyard, Springfield Nebraska.


Please contact Paul Read at pread@unl.edu or 402-472-5136 or Steve Gamet at sgamet@unl.edu with questions.

Pruning to Alleviate Stresses: Winter Injury and Grapevine Trunk Diseases

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 4 p.m. at SchillingBridge Winery & Microbrewery, 62193 710th Rd., Pawnee City, Nebraska 402-852-2400

Bring your secateurs (French for hand pruning shears) and lots of questions. This will be a great hands-on opportunity to learn how to deal with vexing issues such as winter injury and grapevine trunk diseases, in addition to a chance to review pruning for optimal yields.

SchillingBridge Winery & Microbrewery have graciously agreed to host a field experience for any interested growers and would-be grape growers. The topics and hands-on opportunities will include Pruning for Winter Injury Recovery, Grapevine Trunk Diseases: How to Recognize Them and Follow-up Steps, Pruning for Optimal Crop Yield, Early Season Vineyard Management Practices, and related topics.

Topics will be led by the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program (UNVP) specialists and Max Hoffman, SchillingBridge Vineyard Manager and amateur grape breeder. This will be a great way to jump-start the 2019 growing season, so plan to attend, get your questions answered, and gain additional practice in pruning and vineyard management.

Please contact Paul Read at pread@unl.edu or 402-472-5136 or Steve Gamet at sgamet@unl.edu with questions.

Vineyard Management Workshop – Trunk Disease and their Management

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at James Arthur Vineyards, 2001 W. Raymond Road, Raymond Nebraska

We have had the opportunity to acquire significant and in-depth data on trunk disease symptoms in nearly 30 grapevine cultivars (“varieties”). These results will be the focus of the viticulture workshop at James Arthur Vineyards. University of Nebraska Viticulture Program research will be featured, along with observations and published information shared with the UNVP personnel by Richard Smart (“the Flying Vine Doctor”) earlier this year.  We also will provide inputs from University of Nebraska Plant Pathology diagnostic personnel regarding Botryosphaeria and Eutypa, their characteristics and management.  Examples of various stages of trunk diseases will be available for participants to inspect.

In addition to the focus on trunk diseases, attendees will gain insights and advice regarding Post-Harvest Vineyard Management, including disease and insect management, vineyard clean-up and practices that will make your vineyard ready for winter and the next year’s vintage.


Tuesday, July 24, 5:00 pm – Miletta Vista Winery, St. Paul, Nebraska

These tailgates will provide the opportunity to see the impact of the pruning efforts that took place at the first installment of the series and what was observed at the second session (fruit set stage). It is anticipated that the vines that we are following throughout the growing season will be at veraison, or perhaps in some cases approaching harvest maturity. Please note: you do not have to have participated in either of the first or second tailgates to attend one of these third tailgates. We will review what took place at the first and second tailgates and evaluate the vines at this stage of development. We’ll also discuss what vineyard tasks need to be addressed at that time and stage of vine development.


JUNE 23, 2018

Richard Smart, a.k.a. “The Flying Vine Doctor” will be in Nebraska on June 23 for an educational program sponsored by the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program and the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association (NWGGA). Consulting opportunities will be available and details of the educational program (topics, location and time of day) will be announced in the Nebraska VineLines and on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Viticulture Program’s web site.


Tuesday, June 12, 5:00pm – Miletta Vista Winery, St. Paul, Nebraska

Wednesday, June 13, 5:00pm – James Arthur Vineyards, Raymond Nebraska

Our goal of evaluating the impact of our pruning efforts at our first installment of the Serial Tailgates on flowering has come and gone because of the high heat experienced recently (the duration of flowering was unusually short). However, we can examine the impact of both the first installment treatments and the heat on fruit set and discuss what impact this rapid period of flowering had on projected yield/crop estimation. This will be a good time to also discuss disease management and how the recent weather experienced has impact on spraying decisions. We will plan to have a third installment of our “Serial” tailgates at veraison later this summer.

PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to have attended one of the first tailgates to attend these second tailgates. We will catch you up on what took place at the first ones and provide insights into the relevant grapevine management strategies. We hope to see you at Miletta Vista Winery or James Arthur Vineyards on June 12 or 13, respectively. You will learn a lot and have the opportunity to interact with colleagues in the Nebraska grape and wine industry. SEE YOU THERE!

First Viticulture Regional Tailgate

Heskett is the owner/winemaker of Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard and Winery and the producer of many award-wining wines.  His vineyard offers the opportunity to evaluate trellis systems, canopy management, fruit set, crop estimation and many other important vineyard management issues.

These “tailgates” are modeled on Cornell University’s tailgates for the Finger Lakes region grape growers. The tailgates will present timely topics and updates with an in-the-vineyard approach to practical problems and solutions. It will also afford participants a chance to discuss challenges and opportunities and to interact with fellow growers and University of Nebraska Viticulture staff.   

Location and dates of future tailgates will be announced soon. Watch your email and the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program and NWGGA web sites for these tailgates in your region. Although we refer to these as “regional”, all are welcome who may be interested. This is FREE event.

For further information, contact Paul Read (pread@unl.edu; 402-472-5136) or Steve Gamet (sgamet@unl.edu; 402-416-9763).  We’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Northern Grapes Webinar Series

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Matthew Clark, John Thull and Jennifer Thull from the University of Minnesota will present Introducing Itasca – Minnesota’s new cold-hardy white wine grape. Webinar information is at http://northerngrapesproject.org/northern-grapes-webinar-series.

20th Nebraska Grape and Wine Conference: A Smashing Success

Attendees at the 20th Annual Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Trade Show held March 2-4, 2017 found that the program was beyond their expectations, noting that it:

  • Was highly educational
  • Had great and knowledgeable speakers
  • Provided lots of take-home messages
  • Was full of valuable information, and
  •  “Useful to enhancing my enterprise”

Read the entire article in the March 2017 Nebraska VineLines.
Conference presentation PDF files

Recipe to Reality

“Recipe to Reality” seminar at the University of Nebraska Food Processing Center will be on April 1, 2017.

Videos of current issues in the vineyard

Videos of high tunnel grapes

Harvest at Oak Creek Vineyard

“Recipe to Reality” seminar at the University of Nebraska Food Processing Center will be on April 1, 2017. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Registration deadline is March 15, 2017. Contact Jill Gifford at 402-472-2819 or jgifford1@unl.edu for an information packet.

Northern Grapes Webinar Series

The Northern Grapes Project provides monthly, one-hour webinars covering topics on growing, producing and marketing wines made from cold-hardy Northern winegrape cultivars. The final webinar for this academic year will be April 11, 2017. Webinar information is at http://northerngrapesproject.org/northern-grapes-webinar-series.

Fall Workshop to focus on herbicide drift

November 2016

The Fall Workshop was held on Nov. 5, 2016 at the Southern Heights Presbyterian Church, corner of Old Cheney Road and S. 40th Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska. Problems associated with herbicide drift and volatilization and the impact on Nebraska and Midwest vineyards was the primary focus of this workshop. 

Sponsored jointly by the University of Nebraska Viticulture Program and the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association, topics included discussions on whatsteps to take if a drift event has impacted your vines, possible remedial measures and the roll of the Department of Ag and what they can do for you. 

This was an especially timely event—be sure to review the presentations!


July 16, 2016 Viticulture Field Day Wrap-up

Mechanization and More Viticulture Field Day a big success

It's harvest time!

The time of the year that we’ve all been waiting for and working toward is either rapidly approaching or now upon us. Many Nebraska vineyard managers are looking at a good-to-great crop. Unfortunately, a few have vineyards that have been decimated or destroyed by hail or wayward herbicide drift, and to those we offer condolences with hopes for a better year in 2017. Read more.

July 16, 2016 Viticulture Field Day Wrap-up

Mechanization and More Viticulture Field Day a big success

It's harvest time!

The time of the year that we’ve all been waiting for and working toward is either rapidly approaching or now upon us. Many Nebraska vineyard managers are looking at a good-to-great crop. Unfortunately, a few have vineyards that have been decimated or destroyed by hail or wayward herbicide drift, and to those we offer condolences with hopes for a better year in 2017. Read more.

Grape Insurance

This is the link to the 2015 Presentation by Patrick Laird. To provide clarification about cultivars (“varieties”), we list several under each category.

Grape Insurance

List of potential grape cultivars for Nebraska

Grape Cultivars for Nebraska

Foliar Fertilization of Grapevines

August 2015 - By Peter Christensen, Extension Viticulturist. The University of California Kearney Agricultural Center

Applying nutrients to the foliage is widely practiced in fruit crop production. In many instances it may not be providing any benefit except to the manufacturer and dealer. So, when is it effective and economical? The literature is full of reports on foliar fertilization studies. This article brings some of the information to light in hopes that it will lessen the confusion, mysteries, and expense of this practice.

Viticulture Summer Field Day well attended despite hot temperatures

Even with a heat index of 105 plus degrees on July 11, 40 people attended the Eastern Nebraska Viticulture Field Day at Eric Nelson's Oak Creek Vineyard near Raymond, Neb. Vineyard Manager Scott Dvorak and University of Nebraska Viticulture Program Professor Paul Read, Research Technician Steve Gamet, and Doctoral Student Ben Loseke hosted the event.

Read more.

Northern Grapes Project Newsletter

June 2015

Check out the latest Northern Grapes Project Newsletter! Highlights include articles on wine tannins, impact of spring frost damage in Michigan, and results from the Northern Grapes Project Baseline Survey.

19th Annual Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Trade Show

March 2015

Plans are going forward to negotiate returning to the Omaha Marriott for our 19th Annual Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Trade Show March 3-5, 2016.

Famed enologist, Dr. Murli Dharmadhikari, headlined the wine and winemaking part of the 18th Annual Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Trade Show held at the Omaha Marriott, March 5–7. Jerry Lohr, South Dakota native and owner of J Lohr winery in California, was the Awards Banquet speaker. Doniella Winchell, Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Association, spoke in the marketing and promotion arena and Andy Allen, Chair of the Viticulture and Enology Program at Arkansas Tech University, was the featured viticulture speaker. Each of these speakers are well known to the Midwest grape and wine industry.

Disease and Pest Management Workshop Presentations

November 2014

Brazilian Fruit Production

Fungicides Pre-Harvest-Entry

Grape Lecture

Issues and Concerns About Diseases

2013 Harvest Field Day

August 2013

The 2013 Harvest Field Day at Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City was a great success. The 30 attendees enjoyed great weather, lunch and conversation. Dr. Read did informative presentations on "Crop Estimation and Adjustment", "How To Use A Refractometer to Measure° Brix", and "Canopy Management." There was also a lot of discussion on Herbicide Drift, how to recognize it and what to if you observe it in your vineyard. The success of the workshop has to be the participation in discussions with all the attendees, their great questions and input made it one of our best Field Days.

Brix Testing

Canopy Management for Hybrid Grapes

Cluster Weights

Crop Estimation & Adjustment

Water Management for Grapevines

Grape Fertilization & Nutrition

Paul Read

Dr. Paul Read, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Professor of Viticulture, addresses the Harvest Field Day attendees at Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City on August 10.

Paul Read

Dr. Paul Read explains the history, layout and research of the Kimmel Research Vineyard at the 2013 Harvest Field Day.

April 2013

As the vineyards are becoming a new addition to the beautiful Nebraska landscape, Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association started a resourceful newsletter for our new "vineyard neighbors". They are giving us a written tour of the new landscape, and providing a lot of tips for the growing season. Our readers can enjoy this delightful newsletter by clicking on the link: Living Near A Vineyard 1.

February 2013

The U.S. National Wine Competition is open for entries!  This competition focuses on all U.S. grape varieties (native, hybrid, vinifera) and regions.  The deadline to enter has been extended to March 28, 2013, with judging on April 9-10, 2013.  For details, visit the website at: http://www.winecompetitions.com/ and click on the red, white and blue US Wine Competition logo.

January 2013

The 16th Annual Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Trade Show was held at the Kearney Holiday Inn from Feb. 28-March 2, 2013.

Below are PowerPoint presentations from the event:

Canopy Management for Promising Hybrid Grapes

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Fundamental of Viticulture Handout

Future of Midwest Wine Industry

GGD Nebraska

Growth of the Iowa Wine Industry

Northern Great Plains Variety Selection (zip file)

UNLV Research 


Examine Site Conditions Before Embarking in Viticulture by Dr. Paul E. Read.

Comments on Frost and Vineyard Management when Cold Temperatures are Expected: I am posting comments that Mark Hart and Peter Hemstad made to the Minnesota Grape Growers listserv. I feel that they are right on target, so rather than paraphrase their comments, I am putting them on our web site as they have sent them (with their permission). Peter asked that I include a caveat that his comments are not aimed at the bud break delay work that Seth McFarland and our grad students (Issam Qrunfleh and Ben Loseke) have been doing, which he considers good work.

I suggest reading Mark's and Peter's comments and take them to heart. Happy Frost Dodging and best wishes for a bountiful crop!

Mark Hart's letter:

I had a couple inquiries in private about frost protection that I think stemmed from things I and others have said in the group.

The first item would be frost protection using cryoprotectants, or products you spray on a vine prior to a frost event that are supposed give the vine extra protection during a freeze event.

The short answer is that there is little evidence from scientific trials that these work.

The way a scientific trial works is that the products of interest are compared side by side during a real freeze event and compared to control vines in the same location that have had no treatment. As you might imagine, these studies are a little hard to do, the research has to be set up and waiting for a somewhat rare event to occur. Since each freeze event is different in its nuances (duration, rate of cooling, humidity, etc.); the results seen in one set of circumstances might not be the same in a different freeze event. The field studies that have been done mostly show little positive benefit from these products. There are very few recommendations to use these products from the research/extension community.

How can this be? If you go to any vendor/mfg website they are full of charts and graphs and testimonials about the positive benefits of their product(s). Because real world freeze events are rare, most vendors test their product on potted plants in freeze chambers. Those conditions do not mimic what is seen in the real world, and products that have performed well in these controlled conditions have rarely had similar performance in the field. Humidity in control chambers (and California) is generally much lower than what we see in the Midwest during freeze events. Every time I track down the details behind the testimonials, very few of the growers left a control area in their planting that was untreated, so the comparison the grower uses to evaluate the performance is to prior freeze events or to other growers in the general area. Again the variability between events and locations makes evaluating success on these bases pretty tenuous. If you Google search these products you will often find many examples of growers reporting failures - those don't show up in the marketing material.

If a grower applies one of these products, I strongly encourage them to leave a few representative vines (same variety, same frost exposure) untreated so that they can compare apples to apples when evaluating effectiveness.

There is some science that shows that plant tissue has different freeze tolerance based on its condition, and that those conditions might be able to be changed by adding something from the outside - so there is science that fosters hope for effective products, but field trials suggest that does not translate well to growing situations.

Another aspect is spraying vines with cryoprotectants prior to bud break. This really is moving further from reality. IF these products worked, the basis is usually that the spray gets absorbed into or onto the green tissue to protect it in some way. Prior to bud break, there is not direct access to the green tissue, a product would have to be absorbed in some way to even have a chance of success. Dead bark and bud scales are very effective at NOT allowing that kind of absorption. That is why they are effective at protecting the plant tissue. We spray systemic herbicides (like Roundup) on our vines at this time of year. If those herbicides were absorbed through the bark, the vines would die. Those sprays use all types of surfactants which would enhance absorption, but the vines survive. Any cryoprotectant you spray on a vine before there is green growth is going to have the same degree of absorption.

Use your money wisely.

The other issue I want to discuss is site selection. If you go to an area like Europe where they have grown grapes for 100's of years, you will notice that vineyards are primarily in places that minimize the frost potential. Success and failure (selection) have worked over time to produce that pattern. In the North American Midwest our industry is young, and I don't think the site selection lesson has sunk in in our industry yet.

As I look at the temperature reports come in I see some vineyards report temperatures that are 5-8 degrees above or below the temps recorded at the nearby airport station. Airport stations are usually flat locations that are neither in deep valleys or ridgetops and have an average temperature for the surrounding area, so that suggests that within a fairly small geographic region there is about 5-10 degree variance in the overnight lows that are encountered. Growers need to exploit these mesoclimate variances and locate vineyards where the frost risk is low. Site selection is the number one tool in frost avoidance.

Once you have a vineyard in place, planted at a cost of $10-15K/acre, it is very difficult to decide to move, so site selection really needs to be impressed on potential growers at the start of the process.

Hope everyone gets through the cold.

Mark Hart
Mt. Ashwabay Vineyard & Orchard
Bayfield, WI USA

Peter Hemstad's letter:

I would just like to encourage everyone to take Mark's comments to heart because I think he is absolutely correct with his analysis of the situation. Cryoprotectants are unproven and are unlikely to work. Growers who swear by them have very seldom left any untreated vines as a control. Without a control you have no idea if your buds survived because you sprayed them with a particular product or if they would have survived anyway.

Mark's comments about site selection are also right on the mark. Site selection is by far the biggest factor in whether you are going to have frost issues year in and year out. If you are planting a few vines as a hobby then plant them wherever you want. But if you are planting a commercial vineyard then you really need to optimize your site selection. Basically that means plant them on high ground or don't even plant them. It's as simple as that. Here at the HRC we are on high ground and we have had very little frost damage over the past 25 years. I can thank whoever picked this site back in 1908 for that! The only frost damage we ever really run into is on the very lowest parts of our vineyards, areas I was reluctant to plant into to begin with because of their potential for frost problems. This past week we had a low temp of about 24 degrees on both Monday and Tuesday nights and fortunately almost all our buds seem to have survived. If you have a good site you can rest a lot easier when these frost episodes arise.

Peter Hemstad
Research Viticulturist
University of Minnesota

March 16, 2012

The mild winter and unseasonably warm weather may bode ill for the Nebraska grape and wine industry. Early bud break can produce shoots from primary buds that are extremely vulnerable to damage if a cold temperature (frost or freeze) event occurs. Of course we all know that we can't alter Mother Nature/weather characteristics, but I thought repeating some information that has been presented at various workshops, conferences and elsewhere might be helpful.

The potentially serious problem noted is not just worrisome to Nebraska growers, but the possible problem of early bud break followed by a cold weather event is of great concern in most of the East and Midwest, since similar weather patterns are being experienced throughout the region.

Some of our growers are familiar with the work of Dr. Imed Dami (now at Ohio State University) and his colleagues where they have used sprays of a vegetable oil product (Amigo Oil) to delay bud break. In their work, 'Concord' was the most responsive, while the response of other cultivars to Amigo Oil applications varied greatly depending upon cultivar. Research work done at University of Nebraska–Lincoln by recent PhD student, Issam Qrunfleh has demonstrated bud break delay in 'Edelweiss' of from 5 to 7 days resulting from sprays of 10% Amigo Oil or 1,000ppm NAA (naphthaleneacetic acid). Likewise, Seth McFarland at Mac's Creek Vineyards has achieved good bud break delay by use of sprays of Amigo Oil on the Mac's Creek Vineyard grapevines.

A synopsis of Dr. Dami's work and that of others, along with some additional observations has been sent to New York growers by Hans Walter-Peterson, Cornell University viticulture extension specialist, in which he addresses these concerns. I am attaching his write-up in hopes that it will be of interest to Nebraska growers and others accessing the University of Nebraska Viticulture web site. Additionally, the proceedings of a conference held in Missouri following the disastrous Easter Freeze of 2007 can be accessed here.

Perhaps we will be lucky and not experience extremes of damaging cold following an early bud break, but I'm not holding my breath. If such problems occur, some of the information noted in the Missouri proceedings will be helpful. Please feel free to call or send emails to further discuss this potential problem facing our grape and wine industry. Good luck!

September 22, 2011

Machine Harvest Field Day Impresses Growers

Attendees at the Machine Harvest Field Day at Ida's Vitas Vineyards on September 19th were heard to say "you need to see this machine in action to really appreciate how effective it is, how it actually works!" The South Platte Grape Growers demonstrated the Korvan 3216 grape harvester to an appreciative audience that learned about the advantages (and challenges) of machine harvesting, including labor saving and timeliness of harvest.

Machine Harvester