The North Carolina BioNetwork BioBusiness Center in Candler will host the first annual North Carolina Conference on Sustainable Viticulture on Feb. 23.
The conference will feature speakers from throughout the U.S. who will share information on how to grow grapes organically and still make a profit, which grapes are best for our steep mountain slopes and climate conditions, how to develop vineyards on steep slopes with hard-pan clay soils, practical aspects of pest management and treatment alternatives, end-product differentiation for organic and/or biodynamic wines, and value added products like neutraceuticals.
“Because of the need for a crop to replace tobacco, and the desire of landowners, farmers, and growers to find a sustainable market so that they can keep their land, there’s a lot of interest in alternative crops here in the mountains,” according to David Kendall, Madison County Extension agent.
By necessity, sustainable means growing grapes naturally, organically, biodynamically and being able to make a bottom-line profit. This conference is designed to be a practical approach to growing grapes. Farmers and growers who want to seriously consider growing grapes in the mountains should attend.
The workshop will feature several speakers, each with a broad range of experience in the field of sustainable viticulture. Our specialist presenters will include Charlie Caldwell, owner of Black Squirrel Vineyard (an organic vineyard in Iowa); Chuck Blethen, co-owner of Jewel of the Blue Ridge Vineyard (a biodynamically grown, cold-hardy Muscadine steep-slope vineyard); Rudy Mullis, manager of the Muscadine Group at Hinnant Family Vineyard & Winery (a major processor of neutraceuticals from grape pommace); and Hannah Burrack, assistant professor and extension specialist for N.C. State University Department of Entomology.