Press release from Western Nevada College:
As harvest time approaches in the viticulture industry, Western Nevada College’s Specialty Crop Institute is hosting a wine grape harvest workshop for those interested in expanding Nevada’s viticulture and wine industry.
The workshop will meet Thursday, Sept. 10, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. It will combine classroom discussion at the WNC Fallon campus, 160 Campus Way, and an on-farm tour at Churchill Vineyards and Winery in Fallon. Harvesting grapes and finding solutions to the challenges of cold hardiness will be the main topics of study.
Jack Watson, a viticulture expert from the state of Washington, will be the featured speaker. Watson has been active in the growth of Washington’s viticulture and winemaking industry, and he is an expert on cold hardiness in grapes. An area extension horticulturist for more than 20 years, Watson specializes in viticulture and cherry production, farming 30 acres of grapes and cherries in eastern Washington. He has received several awards for contributions to the industry.
Established in 2001, Churchill Vineyards is Churchill County’s first vineyard, harvesting ten varieties of fine wine grapes. Wine grapes will be at or near harvest at the time of the tour. Instructors will discuss how growers can determine and maximize wine grape quality and will show students how to test for sugar content, an important component of premium wine grapes. Students will view the grape crushers and presses and receive an explanation of the winemaking process.
The workshop is the third viticulture session offered by WNC’s Specialty Crop Institute, a result of increasing interest by Nevada farmers in expanding the state’s viticulture and winemaking industry. Western Nevada’s climate and soil conditions are similar to other western regions growing and marketing premium wine grapes. Wine grapes are a specialty crop with a high monetary value and low water consumption compared with other crops. In 2001, several growers established the Churchill Grape Growers Association to further Nevada’s viticulture industry, and it now includes more than 50 members.
“Growing wine grapes can be a boon for Nevada’s economy,” says Charlie Frey, a board member of the Grape Growers Association and owner of Churchill Vineyards. “When farmers grow premium wine grapes, it naturally leads to the creation of wineries. Look at other states to see how grapes and wineries create more tourism. That’s what we can do for Nevada’s economy.”
The Western Nevada College Specialty Crop Institute is an innovative education program for current and future small-scale farmers, as well as students and professionals. Participants learn alternative farming methods to diversify from low-value crops to high-value, direct-marketed specialty crops that can increase profitability and conserve water. Workshops combine classroom and on-farm learning experiences. It is made possible with funding from the Nevada Department of Agriculture and USDA/AMS through the Specialty Crop Block Grant.
Cost for the workshop is $30, which includes lunch. Registrants receive a $5 discount if payment is made by September 7. To register, contact Ginny Dugan, 775-423-5186, or visit WNC’s Web site.
For information regarding the Specialty Crop Institute and future workshops, contact Project Coordinator Ann Louhela at 775-351-2551.