No Off Season For Grape Growers

The growing season is always a hectic time in the vineyard. Making sure to time sprays properly, getting canopy management practices done at the right times, and harvest — talk about crazy time! So in some ways, it might be natural to think of the time outside of the growing season as slower, more relaxed and easy. While that might be true to an extent, I don’t think you can really call the time after harvest through next year’s budbreak the “off season” for growers. There’s plenty to keep a grower busy during the winter, and I don’t just mean pruning.

• Review the past year with buyers. If you sold fruit to a winery this year, find time to meet with the winemaker and talk to them about how things went. How satisfied were they with the quality and quantity of fruit that you brought to them this year? Were there any problems with communication during the season or during harvest that can be improved? Remember that in the end, a grower is a supplier for the winery, just like the equipment, chemical, and other suppliers that growers rely on for their businesses. Think about the characteristics and behaviors that you appreciate from your suppliers and use those to make yourself valuable to your customers.

• Revisit business/marketing plans and goals. This assumes, of course, that growers have developed business and marketing plans for their business (if not, that should be your task this winter). The environment that growers and wineries operate in is constantly shifting on regional, national, and international levels. It is important, therefore, to regularly revisit the business’ goals and possibly adopt new strategies for how to accomplish them. Perhaps there is an emerging market or trend that could be captured if the business is able to adapt itself to meet them — a new variety, or something that is being requested by customers more often.

Plenty Of Options

Here are just a few of the many grape and wine industry conferences and meetings this “off season:”

• Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
Jan. 26-29, 2010
Sacramento, CA
www.unifiedsymposium.org

• Minnesota Grape Growers Association 6th Annual Cold Climate Conference
Feb. 11-13, 2010
Bloomington, MN
www.mngrapes.org

• Viticulture 2010 & 39th Annual Wine Industry Workshop
Feb. 17-19, 2010
Rochester, NY
www.viticulture2010.org

• Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association Annual Conference
Feb. 18-20, 2010
Richardson, TX
www.txwines.org

• Virginia Vineyards Association Winter Technical Meeting
March 4-6, 2010
Charlottesville, VA
www.virginiavineyardsassociation.com

While this can seem like a daunting task, growers don’t have to go at this alone. There are a number of resources available to help farm businesses with this kind of work. Many lenders employ or have working relationships with financial consultants who will work with their clients. There may also be non-profit agencies or producer groups who can help. In New York, for example, NY FarmNet is an organization that works with farmers on financial and business planning, among many other issues, for little or no cost.

• Continue to learn. Winter is the time when many state and regional industry associations hold their annual meetings and conferences. One thing that I hear often from successful growers when asked about what makes them successful is that they are always trying to learn about new and better ways of farming. These winter meetings are always great opportunities for growers to gather and hear updates on practical information from faculty and Extension staff who do applied research, as well as from their colleagues who may be trying new and different things in their vineyards.

These meetings can also be just as valuable for the chance to network and make new contacts with other growers, find product suppliers through trade shows, and possibly even find a new buyer or market opportunity. In addition to attending workshops in your own area, think about attending one somewhere else. Besides being a small vacation, going to a conference somewhere else can expose you to new ideas that you might not get to hear about if you stayed in your own backyard.

One such opportunity will be the Viticulture 2010 Conference and 39th Annual Wine Industry Workshop to be held Feb. 17-19, 2010, at the Rochester Convention Center in Rochester, NY. The meeting will feature a number of national and international speakers both from industry and academia covering a wide variety of topics related to grape growing and winemaking. There will also be a large trade show featuring vineyard and winery equipment and service vendors as well. Registration, program, and exhibitor information can all be found at www.viticulture2010.org.

Enjoy your “off season”!

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

CitrusHarness The Marketing Power Of Video
September 1, 2014
Multimedia platform is an effective and inexpensive marketing tool for you to attract new customers and keep existing ones loyal to your brand. Read More
Citrus Achievement AwardDespite Industry Challenges, Florida Citrus Leader Has …
September 1, 2014
2014 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner Mike Sparks feels confident in crop sector's ability to regain strength. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoFood Safety Modernization Act Is On The Plate
September 1, 2014
Florida Ag Expo agenda to serve up important features of looming regulations. Read More
CEU SeriesCEU Series: Put Weeds Out To Pasture
September 1, 2014
No matter where they are, plants out of place can be problematic. Read More
TomatoesProduction Reaches An All-Time High For Processing Toma…
August 29, 2014
A record high is predicted for the 2014 processing tomato crop. Read More
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Knocks NPR Piece Over Juic…
August 28, 2014
Agency goes to bat for the industry regarding statement slighting OJ's health benefits. Read More
Disease ControlLate Blight Update Reveals Heightened Activity
August 28, 2014
While several states in the Northeast have confirmed the presence of late blight, the disease has not been reported in North Dakota or Minnesota. Read More
CitrusFlorida Energy Firm Charged Up About Citrus Biomass Pot…
August 28, 2014
Machine called a game-changer when it comes to a cost-effective, efficient way for tree removal and re-purposing. Read More
EquipmentNew Tractors Improve Maneuverability And Operator Contr…
August 28, 2014
The Magnum Rowtrac tractors from Case IH meet growers’ cropping needs through a wide variety of row spacing and belt options.   Read More
NutsCalifornia County Passes Ordinance To Protect Walnut Gr…
August 27, 2014
Verification of ownership needed to complete sales of valuable nuts. Read More
NutsAlmond Growers Hit By Russian Import Limits
August 27, 2014
Growers reflect on changes to export market in light of produce ban. Read More
Farm ManagementLeadership And Management Expert To Speak At California…
August 27, 2014
Daniel Goleman will make presentation at California State University-Fresno. Read More
CitrusNational Scientific Summit On Herbicide Resistant Weeds…
August 27, 2014
Topics to be covered include the economics of proactively managing herbicide resistance, education and outreach efforts, and incentives and regulatory initiatives. Read More
FruitsFlorida Organic Group Dedicated To Serving Growers, Com…
August 27, 2014
Education and development programs are plentiful for interested producers. Read More
VegetablesExperimental Herbicide Technology Blasts Weeds In Rows
August 27, 2014
The technology uses an air compressor to spray corncob grit on both sides of a crop, killing young weeds. Read More
Disease ControlFungal Disease Outbreak Hits Pacific Northwest Vegetabl…
August 27, 2014
An outbreak of blackleg, light leaf spot, and white leaf spot can be significant problems in several vegetable crops.   Read More
CitrusClean Water Conundrum: Ditch The Rule Or Ditch The Myth…
August 26, 2014
Regulation inundation causing a rising tide of confusion for farmers. Read More
BerriesMichigan State University Extension Offers Tips To Prev…
August 26, 2014
Humidity, rainy periods conducive to disease development. Read More