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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Viticulture Notes

Vineyard and Winery Information Series:
Vol. 22 No. 1, January - February, 2007

Dr. Tony K. Wolf, Viticulture Extension Specialist, AHS Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center
Winchester, Virginia

Table of Contents

  1. Current situation
  2. 2006 grape price data
  3. Status of new wine grape production guide
  4. Upcoming meetings

I Current situation

This is a record of sorts for tardiness on Viticulture Notes mailing and I fretted over whether to merge the January-February with March-April, or stick to the bimonthly schedule. Having not missed issuing a bi-monthly edition in 21 years, I chose to be tardy with the January-February edition. The March-April (No. 2) will follow shortly, or so I hope.  It’s been a particularly busy start to the year. As mentioned in the last issue of 2006, Fritz Westover and Ashley Myers moved on, creating voids in both the viticulture research/extension associate position and the grape pathology position here at Winchester. The good news is that both positions have been advertised and we have a number of very qualified applicants for both positions. I anticipate that both positions will be filled by late-spring or early summer. We’re also in the final stages of hiring of an organic, horticultural crops production specialist here at Winchester. In addition to the hiring, several other administrative requirements have also occupied a significant amount of time this winter. Regretfully, until we conclude the hiring of replacements for Fritz and Ashley, my response to personal requests/questions will continue to be slow.

On a positive note, the Virginia Vineyards Association’s annual technical meeting in Charlottesville was well attended and the February program included new topics, interesting research updates, and a couple of talks that you really need to hear on an annual basis, such as pesticide safety and disease control options. The program surveys by attendees were overwhelmingly positive, although there are always some improvements that were suggested and which can be made.  PDF versions of my Petit Manseng talk and my pre-harvest disease control talk are posted at my web site (

On a sour note, we learned in February that the Viticulture Consortium ( would not be funded in 2007. The Viticulture Consortium was created in 1996 and comprised three lead universities, UC, Davis, Cornell University, and The Pennsylvania State University. Through these institutions and their guidance committees, viticulture research proposals were peer-reviewed and many of those with sufficient merit were funded. The Viticulture Consortium was funded by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) to supplement and encourage the viticulture industry to continue to provide industry funding for research and extension education. More than $900,000 in awards were made in 2006 alone for projects considered by the Eastern component of the Viticulture Consortium. Since its inception, 28 states and the USDA benefited from awards made by the Eastern component (Cornell/Penn State) of the Consortium alone.  Virginia Tech researchers, including myself, directly benefited from the Consortium in that we typically sought a partnership of funding between Viticulture Consortium funds and local sources, such as the Virginia Wine Board. So how could a peer-reviewed program with so many beneficiaries be cancelled? Because it had a similar funding mechanism to that of other ‘ear-marked’ spending measures that were eliminated in the current federal spending bill. In reality, the money is still there, but it will be redirected to state agricultural experiment stations through formula funds, where the formula includes a state’s number of small farms and where the state must match the federal funding. How the money will be used in Virginia is uncertain at this early point. What is fairly certain is that the scope of viticultural research conducted within Virginia has been substantially set back by this action.

The winter in review and impact on vine hardiness:  Up until mid-January, most of us were thinking that we were not going to have a winter. That trend was reversed in late-January and many of us paid record heating bills in February as more normal temperatures were experienced. Our low temperature at the Center in Winchester was 2°F, registered on both the 5th and 6th of February. Grapevines here at Winchester took it all pretty well in stride and, as reported back in on 9 January, during a mid-winter heat spell, the level of cold hardiness was adequate to avoid cold injury when the weather changed. While we have not seen evidence of cold injury at Winchester, I can’t say the same for your vines. Hopefully, you have been checking for bud or wood injury before you finish your winter pruning. To date, I’ve not received calls or emails about winter cold injury.

Following (Figure 1) are some data on bud hardiness of Traminette generated over the past several months by Kay Miller in our lab. Throughout the period from early January through early March, Traminette buds expressed mean “hardiness” levels (see Figure 1 legend) of about -8 to -13°F, meaning that it would have taken such temperatures to cause 50% or more bud kill with the Traminette vines. Hardiness increased during the very cold weather of February. By comparison, Viognier bud cold hardiness was in the range of -7 to -10°F during the same period (data not shown). So, the bud hardiness was far greater than the low temperature (+2°F) which the buds experienced in the field. We would not expect cold injury, nor have we observed cold injury.

While there is still an outside chance of cold injury occurring with cold-sensitive cultivars, the more interesting question about the 2006-2007 winter will be what impact the low temperatures have had on the incidence of Pierce’s Disease. We do not have a definitive answer to this yet, nor are we certain about what low temperature dose (duration and absolute temperature) is necessary to reduce bacteria population in affected vines. I’m optimistic that the low temperatures were sufficient to at least reduce the number of symptoms during the 2007 growing season at sites in the Southern Piedmont where we’ve seen an increased incidence of PD in recent years.


Figure 1.  Daily high and low air temperature and Mean Low Temperature Exotherm (MLTE) temperature of Traminette dormant buds from 1 January through early March, 2007. The MLTE is a laboratory-derived temperature that roughly equates to a temperature in the field that would kill 50 of the buds.  The MLTE values are for Traminette on its own roots (small squares) or Traminette grafted to C-3309 rootstock (x). There was no practical difference in hardiness as a function of rootstock.


Last fall we circulated a questionnaire asking Virginia wineries to report prices paid for wine grapes in 2006, specifically for grapes that were purchased from vineyards not directly associated with or owned by the responding winery. Almost 60 wineries (of 90 surveyed) provided data, which are shown in Table 1. We extend our sincere appreciation to those who took time to respond to our survey.  As in previous years, we gathered these data as means of tracking grape value over years and to provide a justifiable basis for our current vineyard establishment/operation cash flow analysis.  The Virginia Agricultural Statistics Service also tracks grape price data, but has generally only shown the data for the top 10 varieties.

We hope that the results of this survey provide new and prospective growers with a basis for estimating potential vineyard returns.  We quickly point out, however, that the data in Table 1 reflect only the average and range of prices.  They have no direct relationship with the quality of grapes sold, and the average price noted does not necessarily mean average fruit quality.  Nor should a grape seller interpret the maximum price as a market-driven point that s/he should negotiate towards.

Table 1.  Prices ($US/ton) paid for Virginia grapes in 2006, as reported by 57 of 90 surveyed Virginia wineries.  Average prices paid in 2004 and 2003 are also shown for comparison (we did not collect data in 2005). Prices that are based on only one winery are not included.                                                                                                                                 


Price per ton ($) in 2006













Average 2004 price/ton

Average 2003 price/ton

Cabernet franc








Cabernet sauvignon
























































Petit verdot








Pinot gris








Pinot noir
















Sauvignon blanc

















































III. Wine Grape Production Guide for Eastern North America

Many readers have asked about the status of our new wine grape production guide, for which I’ll provide this update. By way of background, I initiated an effort about 5 years ago to begin a re-write of the Mid-Atlantic Winegrape Growers Guide, a 1995 publication which we published with North Carolina State University. The new production guide involves a number of authors (see box) and is much more detailed than the Mid-Atlantic guide. Most of the writing of the 16 chapters was done between 2004 and early 2006. The text was then peer-reviewed, with final chapter drafts submitted to the publisher in September 2006. The publisher, Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES) of Ithaca, NY has been working on technical edits and formatting, and anticipates publication this summer (2007). The authors include prominent viticulturists, pest management specialists, and agricultural engineers from throughout the East, including Canada. The finished book is estimated to be 350 pages (8.5 x 11-inch) with a coil binding. It will have about 175 color photos, 48 illustrations, and 42 tables.

Job opening:  Winemaker/Vineyard manager sought for growing winery in Bedford County VA.  Some hands-on experience preferred , salary and benefits negotiable. Living quarters available. Duties include everything from vine to bottle. We are a small but growing vineyard and winery interested in producing high quality wines, largely Italian varieties. Good position for ambitious and proud individual (come grow with us). Contact Norm; Phone: (540) 586-4066; Cell: (434) 258-3902; Address:  LeoGrandeWinery, 1343 Wingfield Dr., Goode VA 24556.

Chapter titles and lead authors of Wine Grape Production Guide for Eastern North America.
Publication expected during summer, 2007.

Chapter 1: Costs and Returns of Vineyard Establishment and Operation
                Tony Wolf et al., Virginia Tech
Chapter 2: Vineyard Site Selection
                Tony Wolf and John Boyer, Virginia Tech
Chapter 3: Wine Grape and Rootstock Varieties
                Tony Wolf et al., Virginia Tech
Chapter 4: Vineyard Design and Establishment
                Tom Zabadal, MichiganStateUniversity
Chapter 5: Pruning and Training
                Andrew Reynolds (Brock University, Ontario) and Tony Wolf
Chapter 6: Grapevine Canopy Management
                Andrew Reynolds  (Brock University, Ontario) and Tony Wolf
Chapter 7: Crop Yield Estimation and Crop Management
                Tony Wolf, Virginia Tech
Chapter 8: Nutrient Management
                Terry Bates (CornellUniversity) and Tony Wolf
Chapter 9: Grapevine Water Relations and Irrigation
                David Ross (University of Maryland) and Tony Wolf
Chapter 10: Spray Drift Mitigation
                Andrew Landers, CornellUniversity
Chapter 11: Disease Management
                Wayne Wilcox (CornellUniversity) and Tony Wolf
Chapter 12: Major Insect and Mite Pests of Grape in the Mid-Atlantic Region
                Doug Pfeiffer, Virginia Tech
Chapter 13: Vineyard Weed Management
                Jeffrey Derr, Virginia Tech
Chapter 14: Wildlife Deterrence
                Tony Wolf, Virginia Tech
Chapter 15: Grape Purchase Contracts and Vineyard Leases
                Mark Chien, The PennsylvaniaStateUniversity
Chapter 16: Wine Grape Quality: When Is It Time to Pick?
                Gill Giese, Surry Community College, NC

IV. Upcoming meetings

Workshops in Pennsylvania for beginner and potential wine growers

Two workshops will be offered in Lancaster, PA for people who want to develop commercial wine vineyards in the region.  The first is a full-day classroom meeting that covers all aspects of vineyard establishment including an overview of the wine industry in the region, marketing wine grapes, vineyard economics, grape varieties and rootstocks, plant materials and nurseries, site selection/evaluation/preparation, planting, trellis construction, early vine care, nutrition and more.  The focus is on practical information that can help growers to get started.  The second workshop is a chance to see these concepts at work in a vineyard and hear from growers how they developed their vineyard.  The Waltz Vineyard in Manheim is one of the most respected in the region.  Jan Waltz will be our host and explain how he has been so successful as an independent vineyard. Nelson Stewart from Karamoor Vineyard will share his development secrets and Michael Schmidt from Spec Trellising will talk about materials and supplies for new vineyards.  These are two very practical and educational workshops for new to intermediate level grape growers. 

New Grower Workshop. Wednesday, March 21. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Farm and Home Center, Lancaster, PA.  Instructors: Dr. Joe Fiola (UMd) and Mark Chien (PSU).  Cost: $125.  Registration required. 

Vineyard Development Workshop.  Tuesday, April 3.  Noon to 5 p.m.  Waltz Vineyard, Manheim, PA.  Instructors: Jan Waltz, Nelson Stewart, Michael Schmidt, Mark Chien.  Cost: $50.  Registration required. 

Please contact Marilyn or Mark at Lancaster County Cooperative Extension for registration and information brochures at 717-394-6851 or

Calendar of Regional Viticulture and Enology Events for 2007.  Thanks again to Mark Chien of The Pennsylvania State University’s Cooperative Extension for putting together and updating this comprehensive listing of events in the region.


24:Commercial vineyard management workshop. Chateau O’Brien vineyards, Markham, Virginia. Understanding the ‘what, why, how, and when’ of vineyard management, canopy and fruit
management, and more. Contact Jason Murray at 410-598-4317 (


3: Vineyard Development Workshop. Waltz Vineyard. Manheim, PA. Noon to 5 p.m.. This workshop is designed to demonstrate to grape growers, especially new ones, what must be done to develop a high quality wine grape vineyard.  The focus is on practical information. Waltz Vineyard is one of the best vineyards in Pennsylvania. Jan and Kim Waltz will explain the secret to their success. Other speakers include Mark Chien,  Nelson Stewart of Karamoor Vineyard and Michael Schmidt from Spec Trellis.  Cost is $50 per person.  Registration material will be available soon.  Call 717-394-6851 for information and registration.

10: Grape Disease Workshop.  Lancaster Farm and Home Center.  9 a.m. – 4 p.m..  Important update on disease information from Dr. Jim Travis and his pathology team as we head into the 2007 growing season.  Full review of cultural practices and results from Jim’s 06 disease trials.  Also, spray program review session. Call Mark Chien for information and registration. 

14: Farm Safety Day Camp. 8:30- 2.  Heidi Hollow Farm, Germansville, PA.  Farm safety is something a lot people in the vineyard community take for granted.  They shouldn’t wait for an accident to happen to learn about how to make a farm a safe place to work.  Contact Bob Leiby for information at 610-391-9840. 

19: Pesticide Update Meeting. 7-9 p.m.  Berks County Ag Center in Leesport.  This is a good chance to update needed pesticide applicator’s credits.  Contact Mena Hautau for program and information at 610-38-1327.

24: Pennsylvania Wine Association Annual Meeting.  8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with awards banquet.  Harrisburg/Hershey Sheraton (formerly Wyndham). Harrisburg, PA.  Invited speakers focus on current topics important to the PA wine industry. Enology, wine marketing and viticulture topics are all on the program.  Pesticide credits available.  Awards banquet and annual PWA business meeting.  For information, please call Jennifer at 717-234-1844. 

16: Pre-bloom Vineyard Management and Disease Control Twilight Meeting.  5-7 p.m. Chester County. Vineyard TBA. Dr. Jim Travis and Mark Chien will discuss disease control and canopy management at this critical time in the season.  Informal and open to all grape growers. Bring questions.  Call Mark Chien for information.

18-19: Vineyard Soils Workshop with Paul Anamosa. Lancaster, PA.  A 2-day workshop with one day in class and another in soil pits learning about the principles and properties of vineyard soils. The focus will be on practical aspects of soil analysis and management for grape growers.  Paul is one of the most respected soil scientists specializing in vineyards in California.    Visit Paul’s web site at   Contact Mark Chien for information.   


15: Virginia Vineyards Association’s summer social. Details will appear at VVA website (

16: Summer Field Day.  Maryland Grape Growers Association. 

18:Purdue Wine Grape Summer Workshop.  Indiana. Location to be determined. For information go to

20-22:American Society for Enology and Viticulture Annual Convention. Grand Sierra Resort, Reno, CA.  ASEV is the professional association of the U.S. wine industry.  The focus is on viticulture and enology research with a large trade show.  For more information, go to

23: Getting a Vineyard Started.  Linden Vineyards, Linden, VA (

24: Vineyard Management.  Linden Vineyards, Linden, VA.  The focus on this session is the finer points of day to day management of a producing vineyard. Canopy management to impact quality and flavors is the main emphasis. Horticultural decisions such as pruning, training, pest management and vine nutrition are also covered (


15-17: American Society for Enology and Viticulture Eastern Section Annual Meeting.  Holiday Inn Lehigh Valley, Breingsville, PA.  This is an important opportunity for non-western states growers to hear the latest research results from their regions include student papers and Viticulture Consortium projects.  Pre-conference tour of  local wineries is available.  For more information, visit the ASEV-ES web site at  or call Mark Chien or Stephen Menke.


4: Winemaking Basics. Linden Vineyards. Linden, VA.  See January 21 entry. 

5: Advanced Wine Making Workshop.  Linden Vineyards. Linden, VA. Artisan winemaking is covered in this seminar with time spent in the vineyard, cellar, classroom and tasting. Style and quality issues are the focus. Participants should have some winemaking experience or have taken the Winemaking Basics Seminar.  Limited space. Pre-registration required. 


"Viticulture Notes" is a bi-monthly newsletter issued by Dr. Tony K. Wolf, Viticulture Extension Specialist with Virginia Tech's Alson H. Smith, Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Winchester, Virginia. If you would like to receive "Viticulture Notes" as well as Dr. Bruce Zoecklein's "Vinter's Corner" by mail, contact Dr. Wolf at:

Dr. Tony K. Wolf
AHS Agricultural Research and Extension Center
595 Laurel Grove Road
Winchester, VA 22602

or e-mail:

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