Published on 07/27/17

New grape growers conference set for August 16 in north Georgia

By Merritt Melancon

Georgia’s growing wine industry has an annual impact of more than $7 million on Georgia’s economy, but new growers may have difficulty knowing whether the vineyard business makes sense for them.

In August, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Viticulture Team will hold a conference for new and aspiring wine grape growers.

“Despite the challenging climate, the Georgia grape and wine industry continues to expand. However, starting a vineyard and winery enterprise has inherent risks and is a large investment of both time and money,” said Cain Hickey, UGA Extension viticulturist. “Since planting grapes is a long-term investment, we want to help new growers get it right from the very beginning. We want to provide an opportunity for new and interested grape growers to learn about the challenges they will face and ways in which these challenges can be overcome.”

The conference will be hosted at Crane Creek Vineyards, just north of Young Harris, Georgia, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Melissa Mattee, Towns County Extension coordinator and UGA Extension Viticulture Team member, who works with grape growers in Union and Towns counties, co-organized the conference.

Conference sessions, taught by UGA Extension personnel and industry members from the eastern U.S., will cover viticulture and grape-growing basics and the ins and outs of site selection, variety selection and vineyard establishment. Presenters will also offer financial tools and considerations for starting vineyards.

There will be a networking session at which aspiring winegrowers can meet the veterans who helped launch Georgia’s wine industry.

Find the full conference agenda and registration information at

The conference is sponsored by the Winegrowers Association of Georgia and the Georgia Wine Producers.

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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