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Publish Date: 
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 11:15am

2020 CCC

MGGA Cold Climate Conference 2020 Press Release

January 25, 2020


The Minnesota Grape Growers Association (MGGA) will host the 14th annual Cold Climate Grape and Wine Conference February 20-22 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

The Cold Climate Conference brings experts from coast to coast across the northern tier together in one venue where they share their knowledge and insights with attendees.

Registration can be made online at where applicants will have the option to purchase admission to the conference by the day or as a full-conference package. Discounts are available for MGGA members, students and those registering four attendees or more at a time.

This year’s conference theme is “Get a Clear Vision in 2020.”

Event agenda

The opening day of the conference (Thursday, Feb. 20) features a tasting proficiency and fault identification class from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Lunch is included.  Those wishing to register for Thursday’s tasting proficiency and fault class must act quickly, as enrollment is limited to 45 participants.

The session will be led by Jennie Savits and Erin Norton from Iowa State University’s Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute. Savits and Norton are dedicated enology specialists committed to developing and sharing industry best practices tailored specifically to cold-hardy wine grapes.

There will be a welcome reception with trade show exhibitors and bar from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. The annual meeting for MGGA members is called to order at 6:15 in Suite 104.

Sessions Friday and Saturday are divided into three separate learning tracks: winemaking, viticulture and business practices. All three tracks and the event tradeshow begin each day at 8:30.

The Membership and Awards Dinner begins Friday at 7 p.m. at Four Daughters Winery. Buses will be available to transport attendees between the Mayo Civic Center and the winery.

Winemaking Track

Winemaking track attendees of the will hear wine makers and vineyard managers discussion the industry’s newest grapes, Itasca and Petit Pearl. Maturing, aging and filtering wine will be key themes in addition to topics ranging from winemaking fundamentals like wine stabilization and barrel selection to advances in chemistry and techniques like cryoextraction.

Viticulture Track

The viticulture track is designed to give both new and veteran growers insights from some of the industry’s top experts regarding topics such as soil health, plant nutrition and vine pathogens. Cornell University pathogen expert Wayne Wilcox will lay out cold climate grape management strategies.

Business Practices Track

The business track this year focuses on a winery’s profit center, its tasting room. Track leaders will cover topics like tasting room construction, employee management and training, as well as wine clubs and social media promotion that help increase sales after a customer’s visit. 

Craig Root will share tips for making wineries more money with track attendees he has gained from 30 years of revitalizing tasting rooms and increasing winery sales. Root is a global consultant from St. Helena, California. 

Business track attendees will also get to peek inside the head of some of the metro wine scene’s most influential people, including sommelier and wine educator, Jason Kallsen. Kallsen will show attendees how wine education directly contributes to improved winery sales.

The conference hotel connected to the Civic center via skywalk is The Kahler Grand Hotel. A link to The Kahler is available on the Cold Climate Conference registration site.

# # #


For more information Please contact

Jenny Ellenbecker

Minnesota Grape Growers President

Minnesota Grape Growers Cold Climate Conference Chair


Publish Date: 
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 4:45pm

VitisGen2 Outputs: Links to read and share

Interested in keeping up with the VitisGen2 project? Visit the webpage at or on twitter @vitisgen


Trade Articles from VitisGen2

Grape Breeders Search for Reliable DNA Markers: Why the Pinot noir PN40024 Reference Genome is Not Enough
Wine Business Monthly, December 2019
by Tim Martinson, Qi Sun, Cheng Zou, and Lance Cadle-Davidson
The full issue is available with a free account:

 Disease-resistant varieties are on the way: Can we ensure they last?
Wine Business Monthly, June 2019
by Michelle M. Moyer, Timothy Martinson and Lance Cadle-Davidson
The full issue is available with a free account:

“Marker-Assisted Selection” Makes Efficient Table Grape Breeding
American Vineyard, March 2019
by Tim Martinson, Craig Ledbetter and Rachel Naegele

The Phenotyping Bottleneck: How grape breeders link desired traits to DNA markers
Wines and Vines, December 2018
by Tim Martinson and Lance Cadle-Davidson

Will Europe Embrace Hybrid Wine Grapes?
Wines and Vines, August 2018
By Tim Martinson and Bruce Reisch

Grape Breeders No Longer Flying Blind
Wines & Vines, March 2018
By Tim Martinson

The Frozen Genetics of International Wine Cultivars
Wines & Vines, December 2017
By Tim Martinson

VitisGen2 in Popular Press

Two Cornell Profs Hot on Wine Grape Hybrids Hint Europe May Be Too
Forbes, September 2018
by Thomas Pellechia

Why the World’s Most Popular Wine Grapes Are Vulnerable to a Pandemic
Mental Floss, June 2018
By Jen Pinkowski

The Quest to Grow the First Great American Wine Grape
Smithsonian Magazine, June 2018
By Kevin Begos

Program Uses Grape Breeding to Bolster Genetics
Growing Produce, November 2017
By Christina Herrick

The Hunt for Great Grape Genes
Good Fruit Grower, November 2017
Kate Preganman

Helping to Create the Next Generation of Grapes
Missouri State News, October 2017

VitisGen Project to Improve Grapes Gets Big Boost
Appellation Cornell, August 2017
By David Nutt

Can Science Save Our Favorite Wines?
Wine Enthusiast, January 2017
By Brooke Borel

VitisGen2 Research in Plain English Summaries

What is the economic value of breeding grapes that are resistant to powdery mildew?
Summary by Janet Van Zoeren

New resistance genes mapped for an important foliar insect pest of some hybrid grape cultivars
Summary by Matthew Clark and Lu Yin

A new locus associated with downy mildew resistance is found by creating a more accurate genetic linkage map
Summary by Janet Van Zoeren

Looking for durable downy mildew resistance in grapes
Summary by Janet Van Zoeren

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, January 21, 2020 - 2:45pm

Webinar Recording: Revisit and Improve Your Vineyard Spray Program

The recording from the December 10th webinar, "Revisit and Improve Your Vineyard Spray Program" is now online. To watch the recording of this webinar, click on the video below.

To watch it in higher resolution, click on the video, then click on the video title to open it in Youtube.


An effective pest management program leads to higher yields, higher quality fruit, and more satisfied winemakers. Constructing a program that effectively and sustainably targets the diseases and insects in the vineyard is an important skill for all grape growers regardless of experience level or vineyard size.

In the webinar, we discussed how to decide which products to spray based on the pest species in your vineyard, when to spray them, and how to use a variety of resources to develop or improve a current spray program. Speaker: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension.



Publish Date: 
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 9:45pm

Upcoming Cold Climate Grape Webinars

We will be hosting a series of webinars for cold climate grape growers during the winter months. The first two webinars in this series are taking place in December, and will cover pest management and spray programs.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 12:00-12:30pm: Revisit and Improve Your Vineyard Spray Program
  • Tuesday, Dec. 17, from 12:00-12:30pm: Developing Your Vineyard Weed Management Plan

Click here to sign up

Having a spray program that effectively and sustainably targets the diseases, weeds, and insects present in the vineyard, is an important skill for all grape growers regardless of experience level or vineyard size. An effective pest management program leads to higher yields, higher quality fruit, and more satisfied winemakers.

Even seasoned grape growers should be re-evaluating their spray program every year and making improvements to it. December is a great time to do that, so that you can order products for 2020 before the spring rush.

We will discuss how to decide which products to spray based on the pest species in your vineyard, when to spray them, and how to use a variety of resources to develop or improve a current spray program. 

    Click here to sign up for the webinars

    Registration is free, but we need you to register so that we can send you the login information.

    This webinar series is funded by a grant by the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

    Publish Date: 
    Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 11:00am

    Webinar Recording: Crop Insurance for Vineyards

    Did you miss the webinar on Wednesday about grape crop insurance? That's ok - we recorded it, and you can listen to it here. 

    Did you know? The USDA has implemented their Grape Crop Insurance Program into five Minnesota counties beginning in 2020, but you can get insurance for your vineyard even if you live outside of these 5 counties. Learn more about what this means for grape growers in Minnesota and surrounding states. 

    To listen to the recording from the Oct. 23 webinar: click here to watch on Youtube, or watch below: 

    *Please note: The deadline to purchase your 2020 Grape policy is November 20, 2019, so please watch the webinar recording and learn about the program before it’s too late!

    Presenter: Craig Christianson, Risk Management Specialist, USDA

    Topics Covered: 

    • Background on the Risk Management Agency and the USDA Grape Program

    • Written Agreements - How to obtain insurance through a written agreement if your vineyard is not located in one of the five Minnesota counties with the grape program.

    • Grape Program in Minnesota

    Publish Date: 
    Friday, October 25, 2019 - 10:15am

    Applying Fertilizer to Vineyards After Harvest

    Authors: Annie Klodd and Anne Sawyer, University of Minnesota Extension

    Key Points:

    1. Minimize the amount of nitrogen applied in the fall; save it for the spring.
    2. Granular fertilizer is best applied as a broadcast directed to the vine rows
    3. If possible, avoid fertilizer application to the grassy aisles unless groundcover renovation is the intent
    4. Fertilizer application rates should be calculated based on soil and foliar tests. Use test reports from the current year or recent years.

    During the growing season, grapevines allocate significant amounts of sugars and nutrients to the fruit, which is then removed from the vineyard when the fruit is harvested. If the soils are limited in nutrients like phosphorus (P), potassium (K), nitrogen (N) and magnesium (Mg), adding these nutrients back into the soil periodically is important to the continued productivity of the vineyard. Fertilizer amounts (rates) applied should be calculated based on soil and foliar test results, rather than applying an arbitrary rate.

    Reasons to Consider Post-Harvest Fertilization

    Other vineyard tasks are done for the year, and it is too early to begin dormant pruning. Therefore, growers likely have more spare time now than they do in the spring.

    In terms of nutrients, grapes are in one of their most depleted states immediately following harvest, and in the early spring.

    It is logistically easier to apply fertilizer in the fall when the ground is dry but not yet frozen, compared to the early spring when the vineyard may be impassable due to melting snow.

    While applying fertilizer in the fall may not necessarily decrease the chance of vine winter injury, it will help the vines get off to a healthy start in the spring.

    How to Apply Fall Fertilizers

    As stated before, fertilizer rates should be determined based on soil tests, as well as foliar (petiole) tests if possible. Applying fertilizers without considering test data can cause growers to waste money and fuel on excess inputs, and can even cause soil nutrient toxicities, in which nutrient levels are so high that they negatively impact plant growth. Excess fertilizers are also tough on the environment.

    The most effective and efficient method of vineyard fertilization is to apply it as a targeted broadcast directly underneath the vine rows. While many fertilizer spreaders broadcast the product over the whole area, it is generally unnecessary to apply fertilizer to the row middles (grassy strips) unless you specifically intend to improve the growth of the grass. Most grapevine roots grow within the vine rows (also called “herbicide strips”) rather than under the grass, so fertilizer applied to the grass has little impact on the grapevines.

    Broadcast fertilizer spreaders vs. targeted broadcast spreaders

    As mentioned above, most common fertilizer spreaders used in agriculture will broadcast the fertilizer in a certain radius behind the machine, which will of course apply the product to both the grass and vine rows. While this is not necessarily harmful, it is less efficient and more costly than using a targeted spreader (as explained above).

    Specialized vineyard or orchard fertilizer spreaders can be purchased that are designed to direct the fertilizer under the vine rows.

    General use broadcast spreaders can also be retrofitted to target vine rows, for those who do not wish to purchase a vineyard-specific spreader. This can be done by attaching a V-shaped bar on the back, or otherwise engineering a way to redirect the fertilizer at an angle so that it only hits the ground beneath the vines. One grower I spoke to recommended making and attaching a wooden V onto the back of a plastic spreader (such as those from Fleet Farm). He uses wood because he has found that frequent use can cause metal spreaders to rust. Of course, the methods of retrofitting a spreader will depend on the spreader you have and what tools are available to you.

    Why not apply fall nitrogen?

    For cold climate grapes, it is very important to eliminate or minimize nitrogen applications in the fall, especially while the leaves are still on the vines.

    1) Nitrogen application in the fall can significantly increase the vines’ chances of severe winter injury.

    After harvest, grapevines need to begin shutting down (senescing) in preparation for the winter. They stop growing, harden off green tissue, and move their energy and nutrients from the canopy down to the roots for winter storage. If nitrogen is applied in the fall, it encourages the vines to form new leaves, which is not a good thing. This interrupts the senescence process, which makes them unprepared for winter and therefore more vulnerable to winter injury.

    2) Nitrogen applied in the fall may vanish before the spring

    Nitrogen is highly mobile in the soil, meaning that it can be easily lost to the environment with water movement through the soil. Nitrogen can also be lost through volatilization (gaseous loss to the atmosphere). When water carries nitrogen down below the root zone (where the roots grow), the plant can no longer reach it and the N is lost to groundwater. This process is called “leaching.” If nitrogen is applied in the fall, it’s more likely to be lost to the environment than to be taken up by the plant. However, during the active growth season in the spring, the roots are actively growing and nutrients are in high demand by the plants. Therefore, fall-applied nitrogen is likely to be gone before the 2020 growing season starts.

    What about other nutrients, like P and K?

    Unlike N, P and K are immobile in the soil and are less likely to be lost to the environment with fall applications. Therefore, applying P and K in the fall will give vines a ready source of nutrients in the spring.

    Some P and K fertilizers are available that do not contain N; read more at this link. However, many other fertilizers (like "N-P-K") and micronutrient sources contain some level of nitrogen. Therefore, it may be challenging to completely avoid fall nitrogen application if other nutrients are also being applied, particularly if using organic fertilizers. If this is the case, select a fertilizer product with very low N concentrations relative  to the P and K concentrations, such as a 10-20-20 or 5-10-10 and wait until the leaves have fallen off the vines before applying it.

    About the authors: Annie Klodd and Anne Sawyer are University of Minnesota Extension Educators for fruit and vegetable crops. Annie’s position focuses on assisting fruit farmers with topics involving fruit crop production, including grapes. Anne holds a PhD in soil science from UMN, and her position focuses on assisting farmers with soil health and farm food safety topics.

    Publish Date: 
    Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 2:00pm

    Cold Climate Conference: Save the Date

    Cold Climate ConferenceMinnesota Grape Growers Association

    Cold Climate Conference 

    Rochester, MN February 20-22, 2020


    Publish Date: 
    Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 8:00am

    Itasca Wine Making: New report

    Sensory Analysis of Itasca Wines

    preliminary findings of industry sensory evaluation of Itasca winemaking practices

    September 11, 2019

    Presented by Matthew Clark and Andrew Horton

    ‘Itasca’ is a new wine grape variety developed at the University of Minnesota and released in 2017.  This grape variety demonstrates vineyard sustainability traits like cold hardiness, powdery mildew resistance, and low incidence of foliar phylloxera. Furthermore, the juice of the wine is about 30% lower in total acidity than its parent ‘Frontenac Gris’, making it suitable for dry wine production or for use in blending. The novelty of this variety means that few winemakers have had an opportunity to trial different winemaking practices.  In 2017 and 2018 we made experimental ‘Itasca’ wines in order to provide some initial insight to winemakers who may be making ‘Itasca’ wines for the first time. We conducted 2 different experiments, and then conducted sensory analysis of the wines during the Cold Climate Conference in 2018 and 2019. Here we describe the preliminary results of this research. 

    Click here to open the .pdf file

    Publish Date: 
    Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 9:15am

    2019 Fall Open House

    Join in celebrating the fall grape harvest with an open house hosted by the University of Minnesota Grape Breeding and Enology project.  

    This annual event is a great time to meet other grape growers and enthusiasts. You will get to taste about 50 different grape varieties and learn about research being conducted on enology, viticulture, and grape genetics.

    The open house will be from 10 am - noon on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at the Horticultural Research Center, 600 Arboretum Blvd., Chaska, MN 55331.  

    *note this is one week later than normal

    Publish Date: 
    Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 9:30am


    Registration is now open for the 9th Annual International Cold Climate Wine competition. Click on the logo to learn more.


    Winter is Minnesota can be one of the most challenging times for the grape plants.  It's the main reason V. vinifera varieties aren't grown here.  Learn a little bit about whats going on in the vineyard in winter.

    Wine making is a rewarding career, but is not free from headaches. A wine maker's nightmare is the re-fermentation of sweet wines and the instability of some wines. This blog entry addresses the topic and offers some strategies to avoid and mitigate a potential devastating re-ferment.


    Are you curious if your wine is finished with malolactic fermenation? Here is a quick reminder on how to test with paper chromatography





    ALERT: September 27, 2016. Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) in Grapes: A short memorandom on SWD in Minnesota and associated volatile acidity. Read more here

    Fall vineyard managment should focus on managing insects, vertebrate pests, rots, and diseases that will impact the vines in the next growing season.  Making quality wines requires disease intervention and sorting, as infected fruit will impact wine quality. Read more here.


    International Cold Climate Wine Competition 2016 Results here!

    Northern Grapes Project Webinar Registration

    “From Vine to Glass: Understanding the Flavors and Aromas of Cold-Hardy Grapes and Wine”
    Tuesday, May 17th*, 2016
    12:00 Noon Eastern (11:00 am Central)
    7:00 pm Eastern (6:00 pm Central)
    *Please note this is a date change from the original date of May 10th.

    Join Anne Fennell of South Dakota State University, Adrian Hegeman of the University of Minnesota and Somchai Rice of Iowa State University as they discuss their research conducted on Marquette and Frontenac as part of the Northern Grapes Project. 

    Mock Winery Inspection

    Friday April 29, 2016


    Savor Minnesota

    This Saturday April 16, 2016


    Itasca Grape Vine Named

    The University of Minnesota releases its news wine varieity 'Itasca' on April 4, 2016


    Intergeneric Grafting

    Experimenting with different grafting techniques including grafting Ampelopsis with a hybrid rootstock.

    Preliminary Bud Survival Data

    Early bud chop counts on cold-hardy cultivars at the HRC


    Old blog entries

    Are you looking for previous blog posts? Search the archived entries