Wine grape grower education, networking and support are necessary to produce premium wine grapes. Until now, most educational forums have been targeted towards Northern California wine grape growers, and held in the northern part of the state. The Central Coast VINE Symposium is changing that and the unanimous support for the meeting proves it.

All four of the major California Central Coast wine grape grower associations have come together to support the 2011 Central Coast VINE Symposium in an effort to advance grower education in the burgeoning wine region. VINE is a viticulture production meeting specifically focused on the Central Coast viticulture industry.  The 2011 meeting will be held to be held March 15-16, 2011 at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, Calif.

According to association directors and board members, networking and education within the wine grape growing community strengthens their organizations and the region. Michael Larner, grower/owner of Larner Vineyard and board member from the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association said VINE not only “advances the wine industry, in its education and relative topics,” it cements the “sense of community and support.”

“Grower education is an essential component of producing premium wine grapes since the vineyard is the initial source of that quality journey,” Larner said. “It is paramount for those involved at this level to be continually exposed to the newest technologies as well as how to tackle problems that may arise.”

Stacie Jacob, the executive director for the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance is an avid supporter of continuing education for the wine and viticulture industry. She agrees with Larner.

“VINE brings the opportunity to learn from peers, hear about issues impacting the wine community and understand best practices to create efficiencies and lower input costs.  Education and research are important components to ensure continued quality and improvements,” Jacob said.

The theme for VINE 2011 is Survival of the Fittest:  adapting to changes in the vineyard and marketing place.  The focus of the meeting is to provide growers with information and tools to help them succeed despite fast-paces changes and challenges facing the industry.  Topics include grape vine physiology, nutrient budgeting, vineyard management, pest and disease management, and an updates on industry issues such as water regulations and predicting future trends.

The top-notch speaker lineup includes plant physiologists and pathologists, viticulturists, entomologists, University of California researchers, Cal Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo professors, Central Coast growers and industry specialists. For a complete list of speakers and topics, visit www.vinesymposium.com.

Direct focus on Central Coast

The Central Coast VINE Symposium is the first viticulture conference solely dedicated to Central Coast wine grape production and the only meeting of its kind held within the region. The meeting is hosted by a Precision Ag Consulting – a Paso Robles based viticulture consulting company.  Precision Ag is owned by Lowell and Becky Zelinski.  Lowell Zelinski is a former University of California extension agent and California State University professor with a doctorate in soil-plant-water relations and more than 30 years experience in agriculture.

Becky Zelinski has a background in marketing, meeting planning and public relations.  As a team, the couple incorporates grower education into their consulting business model and holds field days and production meetings on a regular basis.  VINE is in its second year and was a spin-off from the Central Coast Irrigation Management Workshop, also hosted by Precision Ag.  The Zelinskis developed VINE because they felt there was a need for industry-supported education for the Central Coast wine region and had the experience and background to do it.

Larner said VINE is a win-win for associations, growers and the industry.

“The support of VINE by the SBCVA benefits the organization the same as a vineyard benefits from proper cultivation.  Continued education strengthens the foundation of its individual members, together resulting in a healthier and supportive organization.”

To register or for more information about VINE, call (805) 434-3331 or visit www.vinesymposium.com.