On the Texas Gulf Coast, It’s Time to Start the New Vintage with the Grape Growers Field Day in Cat Spring

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Austin County Grape Growers Committee will co-sponsor the 19th annual Gulf Coast Grape Growers Field Day on Feb. 11 in Cat Spring, about 75 miles west of Houston. The field day will be held at the Cat Spring Agriculture Society Hall, 13035 Hall Rd. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with presentations and activities scheduled from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

According to Fritz Westover, Texas AgriLife Extension viticulture advisor for the Gulf Coast and South Texas regions and statewide coordinator for AgriLife Extension’s viticulture team, “We hold this field day annually to inform and benefit both the novice and experienced grower, and to introduce them to the latest in vineyard research, practices and products.”

Westover said last year’s program drew more than 175 participants from throughout the state. This was an all-time high in attendance for this event. Fritz said, “This is the biggest viticulture education event of the year for the Gulf Coast region and one of the biggest in the state.”

I attended last year’s event and it was truly an amazing site. I realized that wine grapes were an up an coming crop in the Texas Gulf Coast, but I didn’t expect that there were that many people interested. See: Link to Fritz’s grape grower newsletter: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=2910; and the link to my 2010 Cat Spring experience: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1412, complete with bunkhouse tales. If you are interested in [or at least considering] grape growing on the rolling hills of Austin County, I can say from my experience last year that a day at the Cat Spring Field Day will be a day well spent.

This year, there will be an array of viticulture topics addressed at the Cat Spring field day. Topics will include grape pest and disease management, grape maturity for wine quality, management practices for new vineyards, grower discussion panels and the latest in Texas AgriLife vineyard demonstrations. Speakers will include experts from AgriLife Extension, industry, and the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.

“We are expecting a record number of exhibitors in 2011 to showcase special offers on vineyard equipment and services,” Westover said.

A minimum of three continuing education units will be available to licensed pesticide applicators.

Registration cost, which includes lunch, beverages and a wine social, is $20. All registration for this year’s field day will be at the door and must be paid in cash or by check.

For more information, contact Westover at 281-855-5608 or fawestover@ag.tamu.edu.

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