The Southeastern New Grape Growers Extension Meeting will take place at plēb urban winery on Wednesday, December 12, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The meeting provides a series of panels offering ground-up information about starting a commercial business in the grape and wine industry, as well as information about the economy and grape growing methods suitable for this region. The meeting was organized by Mark Hoffmann, assistant professor and small fruits extension specialist at North Carolina State University (NCSU). “There is a lot of interest in viticulture and winemaking in this state, and a lot of younger people are very passionate about it,” Hoffmann says. “We want to help build a community in which experienced and less experienced growers and winemakers can learn from each other.”
The newly opened plēb provides a centralized meeting place for grape growers from NC, Virginia and Georgia. “This event is important to the Asheville community because it’s an honest look at the why, where, and what of grape growing around us and in our specific climates,” says Chris Denesha, owner of plēb. “A lot of the modern pioneers of grape growing out here made planting decisions without a lot of experience or relevant guidance. We are trying to help our communities get behind the kind of grapes that do best in our respective areas.” Denesha explains that, while some of the grapes that grow best in this region are not mainstream or the most popular varieties, it’s important to remain as natural as possible. “We believe that if we have to drench the grapes in all kinds of chemicals to keep them alive and producing fruit, maybe we shouldn’t be growing those types of grapes here,” he says.
The day-long conference will cover topics like cash flow and budgeting, selecting a site for a vineyard and managing pests and disease. Panels will explore how to manage an existing, inherited vineyard, as well as the fundamental considerations for opening a winery. Each panel will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Hoffmann and Denesha will both participate in panels, as well as Tremain Hatch, Virginia Tech viticulture extension specialist; Eric Case, vineyard manager at Burnshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville; and Cain Hickey, UGA viticulture extension specialist. Panels will be led by Karen Blaedow, horticulture agent for the NCSU Cooperative Extension in Henderson County.
Find plēb urban winery at 289 Lyman Street in Asheville. The event is free to attend. For more information or to register for the event, visit PlebUrbanWinery.com.