The key to profitability in today's wine grape industry is producing premium quality grapes. In order to produce premium quality wine grapes, an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of grape production is necessary. The goal of the first annual Central Coast VINE Symposium to be held March 23-24, 2010 at Paso Robles Inn in Paso Robles, Calif., is to help growers produce premium quality fruit and increase profitability through education.

VINE is the only meeting of its kind held on the Central Coast. According to meeting organizers, the focus of the symposium is to provide Central Coast wine grape growers, consultants and vineyard managers with practical production information that will help them improve yields and quality, decrease production costs and stay abreast of new technology and techniques.

"The California Central Coast is a great wine producing region but like all areas, it is unique," said meeting organizer, Lowell Zelinski. "In order to become better at what we do, we need to provide our producers with hands-on production information specific to our area, and news about the latest tools and technology. We believe education is critical to success of our industry."

Lowell Zelinski, a former college professor and University of California farm adviser, owns Precision Ag, Inc., a vineyard production consulting company in Paso Robles. Zelinski has a doctorate degree in soil-plant-water relations and nearly 30 years experience in agriculture. Part of his company's mission is to provide education and training. Based on participation in their past meetings, Zelinski, along with his wife and business partner, Becky Zelinski, determined there is a need for wine grape production education. To fulfill this demand, they developed the VINE Symposium and so far, the response has been positive.

"We are getting great support for the meeting," Becky Zelinski said. "This tells us that our colleagues and customers agree that education is important to the success of a viable, high quality wine producing region. Lowell and I are glad we can do something to help facilitate the process."

The Symposium includes sessions on Production and Viticulture, Pest and Disease Management, and Irrigation and Water Management. Speakers include viticulturists, scientists, industry experts, and researchers. The meeting will also feature a sponsor showcase which will include exhibits and presentations from industry representatives. Participants can earn continuing education units and ag waiver credits.

The meeting is sponsored by Western Farm Press, Practical Winery & Vineyard, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Bayer CropScience, Chemtura, Oro Agri, Vineyard Industry Products and others.

The cost to attend VINE is $199 per person, $179 per person for two or more registrations from the same company or members of the Independent Grape Growers of Paso Robles Association, and $149 per person for members of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. Registration includes lunches, a continental breakfast, a welcome reception, and workshop materials. Discounted accommodations are available at the Paso Robles Inn and the Courtyard Marriott.

To register or for more information, call (805)-434-3331 or visit http://www.precisionaginc.com/vine/.