August 20, 2009

Viticulture workshop Sept. 10 in Fallon

It's Harvest Time for Wine Grapes

As harvest time approaches in the viticulture industry, Western Nevada College's Specialty Crop Institute is hosting a wine grape harvest workshop for those interested in expanding Nevada's viticulture and wine industry.

The workshop will meet Thursday, September 10, 9 am-4 pm. It will combine classroom discussion at WNC Fallon campus, 160 Campus Way, and an on-farm tour at Churchill Vineyards in Fallon. Harvesting grapes and finding solutions to the challenges of cold hardiness will be the main topic of study.

Jack Watson, a viticulture expert from the state of Washington, will be the featured speaker. Watson has been active in the growth of Washington's viticulture & winemaking industry, and he is an expert on cold hardiness in grapes. An area extension horticulturist for more than 20 years, Watson specializes in viticulture and cherry production, farming 30 acres of grapes and cherries in eastern Washington. He has received several awards for contributions to the industry.

Participants will tour Churchill Vineyards and Winery where wine grapes will be at or near harvest. Instructors will discuss how growers can determine and maximize wine grape quality, and show students how to test for sugar content, an important component of premium wine grapes. Students will view the grape crushers and presses, along with an explanation of the winemaking process. Established in 2001, Churchill Vineyards is Churchill County's first vineyard, harvesting ten varieties of fine wine grapes.

The workshop is the third viticulture session offered by WNC's Specialty Crop Institute, a result of increasing interest by Nevada farmers in expanding the state's viticulture and winemaking industry. Western Nevada's climate and soil conditions are similar to other western regions growing and marketing premium wine grapes. Wine grapes are a specialty crop with a high monetary value and low water consumption compared to other crops. In 2001, several growers established the Churchill Grape Growers Association to further Nevada's viticulture industry, and it now includes more than 50 members.

"Growing wine grapes can be a boon for Nevada's economy," says Charlie Frey, a board member of the Grape Growers Association and owner of Churchill Vineyards. " When farmers grow premium wine grapes, it naturally leads to the creation of wineries. Look at other states to see how grapes and wineries create more tourism. That's what we can do for Nevada's economy."

The Western Nevada College Specialty Crop Institute is an innovative education program for current and future small-scale farmers, as well as students and professionals. Participants learn alternative farming methods to diversify from low-value crops to high-value, direct-marketed specialty crops that can increase profitability and conserve water. Workshops combine classroom and on-farm learning experiences. It is made possible with funding from the Nevada Department of Agriculture and USDA/AMS through the Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Cost for the workshop is $30, which includes lunch. Registrants receive a $5 discount if payment is made by September 7. To register, contact Ginny Dugan, 775-423-5186, or visit WNC's web site,

For information regarding the Specialty Crop Institute and future workshops, contact Project Coordinator Ann Louhela at 775-351-2551.


For additional information, please contact:
WNC Information and Marketing Services
2201 W. College Parkway
Carson City, NV 89703
Phone: 775-445-3234
Fax: 775-445-3198

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