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For the first time, the American Society for Enology and Viticulture will hold its national conference in conjunction with the annual meeting of the ASEV-Eastern Section. Usually ASEV holds its national meeting on the West Coast, and the Eastern Section meets somewhere east of the Mississippi. This year, both meetings will be integrated into a five-day program in Austin, Texas, from June 23 to 27.
According to Lyndie Boulton, executive director of ASEV, the society has been looking for a place to hold a joint meeting for about five years. “We value the Eastern Section,” Boulton told Wines & Vines. “We wanted to find a site to host a common event, a place that would work. It’s amazing the positive commentary we’ve gotten since the conference location was announced. Evidently many California wineries do a lot of business in Austin. It’s a diverse city, centered around the university, but with a mix of larger and smaller businesses. There are good restaurants, and the city is known for its food trucks. And there are a lot of activities—kayaking, walking, running—that can be done right from the hotel in downtown. It’s an eclectic city with an independent identity.”
Pre-conference winery tour
One of the traditions of the Eastern Section is to begin the annual meeting with a daylong pre-conference tour of local wineries, and during this 39th year that tour will take conference attendees to visit four wineries located in the Texas Hill Country AVA surrounding Austin. On June 23, the first stop will be at Flat Creek Estates in Marble Falls. The winery opened in 2002 and now has 20 acres of vines and produces 10,000 cases. The second winery, Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, is Texas’ third-largest winery. Established in 1992, Becker has 46 acres of vines and is a 65,000-case winery. After lunch at the Salt Lick Restaurant in Driftwood, the tour will head to Salt Lick Vineyards next door. The 35-acre vineyard was planted in 2006. The final stop will be Driftwood Estates Winery in Driftwood, which started in 2002 and now makes 6,000 cases.
On June 24 the 65th ASEV conference will officially open with a symposium about water-use efficiency. Given that both California and Texas have had problems with drought, the topic is appropriate for growers across the country. Speakers from Australia to Spain and California to Ontario will focus on such issues as managing salinity in vineyards, using reclaimed water for irrigation and improving water-use efficiency in grapevines.
A second symposium will be held June 27, this time with the focus on winemaking for challenging environments. Sara Spayd, professor and extension viticulture specialist in the department of horticultural science at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, will introduce the topic, and Ed Hellman, professor of viticulture at Texas Tech University, will discuss “dealing with environmental challenges in the vineyard: delivering the best product to the winemaker.” Other speakers from across the country will include Roger Boulton from the University of California, Davis, who will speak about managing acidity and pH in wine; Thomas Henick-Kling of Washington State University will talk about malolactic fermentation under low-pH conditions, and Anna Katharine Mansfield of Cornell University will look at color and phenolic issues.
On June 25 and 26, research scientists and their students will present research reports, student papers and poster sessions covering a wide range of topics.
The ASEV Merit Award is presented each year to someone who has contributed significantly to the progress and advancement of viticulture and enology or to ASEV itself. This year’s award will be presented to Dr. Linda Bisson, professor in the department of viticulture and enology at the University of California, Davis. Bisson, the science editor for the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, has been presented with several teaching awards during her career and held the Maynard A. Amerine Endowed Chair in Viticulture and Enology from 1997 to 2008.
Bisson’s area of research is the investigation of utilization of carbon and energy sources in yeast, with a specific focus on how eukaryotic cells can detect energy sources in their environments and prioritize use when presented with a mixture of substrates. She will speak about the information landscape transformation and the changing role of scientific societies.
On June 25 Dr. Terry Bates, senior research associate at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., will receive the first ASEV Extension Distinction Award. According to ASEV, this award will recognize a current extension educator and “is based on his or her outstanding contribution of: (1) information in enology or viticulture through his or her extension program, or (2) the translation of novel research findings into commercially applicable tools for enologists or viticulturists.”
A past president of the ASEV-Eastern Section, Bates is also the director of the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, N.Y. Based on his research trials of vineyard mechanization on Concord grapes in the Lake Erie region, grapegrowers have a new tool—mechanical crop estimation and thinning—to a djust cropping levels to seasonal conditions. Bates will talk about “Concord fruit thinning: using vine biology and mechanized management to address market demands in New York.”
The fun stuff
Conference attendees will have two opportunities to taste wines from Texas and the wider eastern region. On June 24, the ASEV-Eastern Section will hold a “Wines of the East” reception featuring wines from across the Eastern region and, as entertainment, the fourth annual Oenolympics, in which teams of students from various viticulture and enology programs across the country compete in a range of wine-related tasks. In past years, under the guidance of Dr. Mansfield, students have fired off Champagne corks at a bull’s-eye target, acted out different trellis systems and tried to guess the grape variety and state of origin after sipping wines while blindfolded. The competition this year will be open to students from the entire ASEV.
A Texas regional wine reception will take place June 25. This will be an opportunity to taste regional wines from the Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains AVAs. On June 26, a student and industry mixer will include the announcement of the best student presentation awards and the recognition of the AJEV best paper recipients and the scholarship award recipients. The Eastern Section will present its best student presentation awards, the life achievement/merit award and the scholarship award recipients.
Registration and housing
Information about the ASEV conference is available at asev.org. Registration can be done online or by calling (888) 559-9530 or (781) 821-6729. The call center is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PDT) Monday through Friday. The conference hotel is the Hyatt Regency Austin at 208 Barton Springs Road. Hotel reservations may be made through the ASEV website or by calling (888) 421-1442 or (512) 477-1234.
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