[this story was written by Linda McKee and posted on winebusiness.com, 3/5/20]

From left to right, Kevin Hardcastle, Chuck Lawrence  and Bob Manley, partners in Hermit Woods Winery of NH, at the Eastern Winery Exposition

The Eastern Winery Exposition (EWE), the largest wine and grape trade show and conference east of the Pacific states, will take place in Lancaster, Penn. from March 10-12. Three workshops will take place on the first day and two of the three will cover different aspects of sustainability. The “Climate Change and Sustainable Viticulture” workshop will look at a range of information including the latest data on climate change and viticulture, and a second workshop, “Eco-Friendly Packaging Options,” will explore the options for greener packaging from alternatives to conventional containers to the range of closure options.

Climate change is very real phenomenon for growers and winemakers in eastern North America who have dealt with several polar vortexes in the last seven years as well as the 8 to 12 months of rainy weather that led to a “difficult” vintage in 2018. Greg Jones, professor and research climatologist at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., will kick off the workshop on climate change and viticulture with an overview of regional as well as global research on aspects of weather and climate that influences optimum quality and production characteristics. He will also address how climate variability influences production and quality variations, and how climate change has and will likely continue to alter the global wine region map.

Bryan Hed, research technologist at Penn State University, and Mizuho Nita, assistant professor and extension grape pathologist at Virginia Tech will discuss disease management in a wet season and look at the tools we have to combat these diseases, including a review of the conventional and organic/low impact fungicides available. Two other sessions will cover the challenges of applying organic production methods in Virginia and North Carolina.

During the workshop’s final session, Lucie Morton, internationally-known viticulturist from Charlottesville, VA, and Dennis Rak, owner of Double A Vineyards in Fredonia, NY, will review the status of the National Clean Plant program, New York’s certification program for virus free materials, as well as other factors that growers should be aware of such as graft union integrity and fungal infections.

The workshop on eco-packaging will include talks by suppliers of packaging materials and by winemakers, the users of those products. George Hall, sales manager, Waterloo Container, and Phil Plummer, winemaker at Montezuma Winery, Seneca Falls, NY, will cover the use of lightweight glass bottles and then Lee Hartman, winemaker/vineyard manager at Bluestone Vineyard in Bridgewater, VA, and Michael Mitchell, winemaker at Cape May Winery and Vineyard in Cape May, NJ, will talk about refillable containers. Cape May Winery has started a growler program that uses their tasting room wines-on-tap, while Hartman has recently introduced growlers at Bluestone Vineyards.

Two sessions will cover container alternatives. One session will discuss the use of cans for wine and cider, and in the second, Dave Moynihan, president and founder of AstraPouch®, will compare flexible packaging such as the AstraPouch and Bag-in-Box to glass from a technical stand-point. He will review oxygen transfer rates (OTR) of various materials and speak to the carbon footprint and sustainability issues of the different packaging types. Steve DiFrancesco, winemaker at Glenora Wine Cellars, will explain why he likes the AstraPouch for specific products and its “green” benefits, while Justin Rose, winemaker at Rosemont of Virginia in La Crosse, VA, will speak about why he uses BIB packaging for his 1.5 liter red, white and rosé labels.

The last session of the eco-packaging workshop will look natural closure options, including PlantCorc, a new natural cork made from sugarcane.

Richard Leahy, conference program director, told Wine Business Monthly, that “Sustainability will show up in a lot of ways across the program this year, in addition to the two workshops.” One of the Money and Management sessions will feature a discussion on green/sustainable winery site and tasting room design by Melanie Friedman, owner of FMD Architects in Fairlawn, OH, and Scott Scarfone, landscape architect with Kimley-Horn in Baltimore, MD. The two will examine various ways to concurrently decrease environmental impact while improving visual appeal and street presence, that will combine to create a more pleasant experience for guests.

One of the viticultural program sessions will focus on “Revisiting American Heritage Varieties.” Viticulturist Lucie Morton will talk about American heritage varieties in the light of sustainability and will share some of her recent experiences visiting French producers growing American heritage varieties that remain important to these “rebel” winemakers who embrace them in spite of their legal status as “prohibited” in France. Nathan Held of Stone Hill Wine Co. in Hermann, MO will discuss, and pour samples of, the winery’s Ozark Hellbender wine, a three-grape blend of heritage varieties in Missouri that is named after the endangered Ozark Hellbender salamander. A portion of the proceeds from every bottle of Ozark Hellbender sold is donated to the Saint Louis Zoo for conservation of the Hellbender salamander. Held believes a winery can craft a great wine using American heritage varieties and, with a great story, achieve market success. Tiffany Farrell, winemaker at Haak Winery in Santa Fe, TX, will pour and talk about their dry Blanc du Bois, a complex vinifera hybrid that is resistant to Pierce’s Disease and fungal pathogens.

The EWE conference program includes multiple sessions on three tracks, viticulture, enology and money/marketing/management. In addition, License to Steal (LTS), a marketing conference produced by the Ohio Wine Producers Association, will again partner with EWE for the three days of the conference. As in previous conferences, LTS will include “steal sessions,” where attendees share their newest and best marketing ideas.

Special events at EWE will include the Welcome Wine Reception on Tuesday, March 10; the annual EWE Industry Celebration Dinner on Wednesday evening, March 11, followed by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section’s live auction to raise scholarship funding for enology and viticulture students east of the Rockies.

EWE is produced by Quality Event Management. For more information on the conference, the program and the speakers, visit www.easternwineryexposition.com.