May 22, 2008
Contact: Willsboro Conference: Kevin Iungerman, 518-885-8995
Watertown Conference: Sue Gwise, 315-788-8450
Tim Martinson, Cornell University, 315-787-2448

North Country Wine Conferences Set for June 4-5 in Willsboro, Watertown

Northern NY - Day-long �Cold Climate Viticulture: Wines and Vines in the North Country� conferences are set for Wednesday, June 4 at Noblewood Park in Willsboro, NY, and Thursday, June 5 at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County in Watertown, NY.

The conferences include presentations by several Cornell grape specialists, panels of local growers sharing their experiences with developing local vineyards and wineries, and a tour of either the Cold-Hardy Grapevine Trial at the E.V. Baker Agricultural Research Farm in Willsboro or Yellow Barn Winery in Sackets Harbor, west of Watertown.

Conference organizer Dr. Timothy E. Martinson, a Senior Viticulture Extension Associate with the Cornell University New York Statewide Viticulture Extension Program, says, �The North Country has seen a burgeoning interest in growing grapes for wine. This interest has been made possible in part by cold-tolerant hybrid grape varieties developed in Wisconsin (by farmer and amateur grape breeder Elmer Swenson) and Minnesota (University of Minnesota grape breeding program). These varieties grow where more traditional varieties would not survive the winters. This conference will provide potential growers and vintners with basic start-up information.�

Martinson will speak on the economics of the grape industry and on site selection and preparation and training grape vines from planting to fruit-bearing. Martinson led the Finger Lakes Grape Extension Program from 1997-2006. Since 2006, he has worked with regional wine and grape extension for Long Island, the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and Lake Erie regions of New York.

Kevin A. Iungerman, an Extension Associate with the Cornell Northeast NY Commercial Fruit Program, is the project leader for the Cold Hardy Willsboro Wine Grape Cultivar Trial at the E.V. Baker Agricultural Research Farm in Willsboro. Funding and assistance from NY Senator Elizabeth Little, the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, the New York Farm Viability Institute and numerous volunteer growers helped establish the 300-vine vineyard trial of 25 cold-hardy wine grape cultivars at Willsboro.

�The regional research is producing critical data based on side-by-side comparisons in the region and regional grape enthusiasts are learning by seeing and doing about vineyard management, including a novel way to reduce weed control measures, and about winemaking needs,� Iungerman says.

New York Statewide IPM Specialist Timothy H. Weigle is the team leader for the Lake Erie Regional Grape Extension Program housed at the Vineyard Laboratory in Fredonia, NY. Weigle will speak on pest management, and the necessary vineyard equipment and supplies.

Christopher J. Gerling is the new Statewide Enology Extension Associate in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. Gerling will speak on cold climate grape varieties and wines, how to equip a start-up winery, and vineyard and winery business planning with Martinson.

Registration for the conference program, organized by Statewide and regional Cornell Cooperative Extension programs is $50 and includes lunch, the vineyard tour and a CD-ROM with presentations and information. Register by May 30; space is limited. For the Willsboro program, contact 518-885-8995; for the Watertown program, contact 315-788-8450. # # #

Directions for Willsboro Conference: Noblewood Park, 158 Lake Shore Road (Route 22), is approx. 10 miles from I-87 Northway Exit 33 for Willsboro via Route 22 south; approx. 5 miles
north of the NY-VT Essex-Charlotte Ferry and Route 22 north.

Directions for Watertown Conference: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, 203 N. Hamilton Street � From Interstate Route 81, take Exit 45 (Route 3/Arsenal St), follow Route 3 signs through Public Square downtown onto State Street (Route 3), turn left onto North Hamilton Street, CCE is on left with large parking lot.