San Joaquin Valley wine grape growers and vintners will gather in early December to focus on what 2005 will mean for the Valley's recovering wine grape industry.

Central California Winegrowers (CCW), California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) and the Wine Industry Symposium Group are jointly sponsoring a symposium, “What's ahead for the Central California Grower,” on Thursday, Dec. 9, beginning at 8 a.m.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Central California Winegrowers will hold a brief association meeting and will recognize symposium speakers and sponsors at a dinner event, beginning with a social at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Both events will be held at Grand Occasions, 4584 W. Jacquelyn Ave., in Fresno, and are open to the public. Reservations are required.

Keynote speaker

The keynote dinner speaker for the CCW dinner event on Dec. 8 will be Matteo Watkins, owner of the Acequia on Main Restaurant in Visalia. Watkins, who features only Valley-produced wines in his restaurant, will discuss the wine industry from a retail and consumer perspective. Valley wines will be served.

The symposium on Dec. 9 begins with breakfast and registration from 7:15 -8 a.m., followed by welcomes from Rich Cartiere, editor of the Wine Market Report; Carson Smith, president of CCW; and Karen Ross, president of CAWG. Informational panel discussions will follow, focusing on the global grape markets for wine grapes and other grape product utilization, and land use issues addressing housing development or agriculture. In addition, consumer trends, environmental issues and updates on CCW-sponsored research projects will be provided.

Jose Fernandez, president and CEO of Constellation Wines, will provide a global perspective of the wine industry, and Peter Byck, president of the Winery Exchange, will provide a Valley perspective on challenges and opportunities facing growers and vintners.

The symposium cost includes registration, a continental breakfast and a working luncheon featuring Central California wines.

For reservation information, contact CCWG Executive Director Ron Metzler at (559) 618-1856 or visit the organization's Web site at www.ccwinegrowers.org.