ASEV East to meet in Pennsylvania

Enology and viticulture meeting takes place July 9 to 11, includes tour of area wineries

by Linda Jones McKee
Contestants attempt to mimic a common viticultural practice in the 2017 “Oenolympics” of the annual meeting of the Eastern Section of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. The popular event will be part of the 2018 conference.

King of Prussia, Pa.—After meeting last year in Thomas Jefferson’s home town, Charlottesville, Va., this July the Eastern Section of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture will hold its annual conference just outside of William Penn’s Philadelphia.

The location in King of Prussia is only a few miles from a hill in what became Philadelphia where Penn planted vinifera grapes in 1683. Penn’s grapes, like Jefferson’s in the next century, succumbed to pests and diseases unknown at that point in the grapes’ native Bordeaux. However, thanks to modern sprays and IPM programs, vineyards and wineries are increasing in number and in quality throughout Pennsylvania. According to Wines Vines Analytics, Pennsylvania currently has 274 wineries, and more than 2,500 acres of vineyards growing wine grapes.

The 2018 conference will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resorts in King of Prussia July 9 to 11 and will include a pre-conference tour of three wineries on Monday, July 9; technical and research sessions all day Tuesday and on Wednesday morning; and a workshop on “Taming High pH in the East” on Wednesday afternoon, July 11.

Winery and vineyard tour
The annual day-long tour of nearby vineyards and wineries will include three wineries in southeastern Pa. The first stop on the tour will be Galen Glen Winery, located in Andreas in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. Galen and Sarah Troxell own 32 acres of the Troxell family farm and currently have 21 acres planted with hybrid and vinifera grapes. The Troxells note that the family operated a fruit farm on the site for 50 years and never lost a crop to winter damage or spring frosts, in spite being at an elevation of more than 1,000 feet. Known for award-winning Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines, the Troxells opened the winery in 1998 and now produce 5,000 cases of wine. Galen Troxell is the vineyard manager and Sarah Troxell is the winemaker.

While Richard Blair originally planted his vineyard and opened a winery on his family farm in 2004, he soon found that “the slopes weren’t right, and too much was northeast facing.”

He purchased another property that was clear of trees and had southeast, south and southwest slopes not far from Kutztown, Pa. He then built a three tier, gravity-flow winery with the lowest level built into the hillside. He and his wife Carol opened their new facility in 2010 and produce 5,000 cases each year (the winery was featured as the cover story of the Wines & Vines, March 2012 edition).

The final stop will be at Pinnacle Ridge Winery, northeast of Kutztown and not far from Setter Ridge. Started by Brad Knapp in 1993, the winery tasting room is located in part of a Pennsylvania bank barn built approximately 120 years ago. Knapp, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, originally intended to become a sparkling wine producer. He now produces 4,500 cases of table wines, including Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Traminette and Chardonnay, as well as sparkling and dessert wines.

Conference sessions
The ASEV-ES conference on July 10 and 11 will include presentations by researchers from Ontario to Texas on a wide variety of technical enological and viticultural subjects. Sessions will include such topics as the correlation of acidity with yield in Frontenac grapevines in North Dakota, the evaluation of novel hybrid Pierce’s disease tolerant wine grape varieties on three training systems in Georgia, and the development of vertical airflow technology for cool climate appassimento grape drying in Ontario. In addition, 12 students from seven universities will give oral presentations about their research as part of the student presentation competition.

Terry Acree, professor of food science at Cornell University and the recipient of the 2018 ASEV-ES Outstanding Achievement Award, will be the featured speaker leading off the Wednesday morning session, July 11. Dr. Joseph Fiola, specialist in viticulture at the University of Maryland Extension in Keedysville, Md., who will receive the 2018 ASEV-ES Distinguished Service Award, will speak immediately before lunch on July 11.

On Wednesday afternoon, speakers at the workshop titled “Taming High pH in the East” will discuss the challenges of working with wine grape cultivars with high pH issues and will include presentations, interactive discussions and tastings. Dr. Tony Wolf, professor of viticulture at Virginia Tech, and Fritz Westover, owner of Westover Vineyard Advising based in Houston, Texas and founder of the Virtual Viticulture Academy, will look at “Potassium’s Conflicted Personality in Grapevine Nutrition.”

Geoff Cowey, senior oenologist at The Australian Wine Research Institute near Adelaide, will discuss “Acid Matters, Getting the Balance Right.” James Kennedy, previously director of the viticulture and enology research center at California State University, Fresno, and now president of Polyphenolics and Canandaigua Concentrate (divisions of Constellation Brands), will talk about “Optimizing Wine Color and Mouthfeel under High pH Conditions.”

Special events at the ASEV-ES conference will include the Wines of the East Reception on July 10, followed by the annual Oenolympics, in which teams of students from viticulture and enology programs across the country compete in a series of wine-related tasks. On July 11, a sparkling wine reception will precede the annual ASEV-ES Grand Awards Banquet. Acree will receive the 2018 ASEV-ES Outstanding Achievement Award and the 2018 Distinguished Service Award will be presented to Fiola.

According to Eastern Section administrator Renee Threlfall, research specialist for the Institute of Food Science and Engineering at the University of Arkansas, ASEV-ES has raised $14,000 for scholarship funds from fundraising events at the Eastern Winery Exposition and from private donations. Seven students at five different universities who are working toward careers in viticulture and enology will receive their awards at the Wednesday evening banquet.

Registration and lodging
Information about the ASEV-ES conference and registration forms are available on the website asev-es.org. The deadline for reduced rates at the Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resorts in King of Prussia, Pa. is June 14. Contact the hotel at 610-265-7500 and mention the American Society of Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section.

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