CABNR and Cooperative Extension workshops promote grape growing in Nevada

University of Nevada, Reno “Growing Grapes in Nevada” workshops well received

CABNR and Cooperative Extension workshops promote grape growing in Nevada

University of Nevada, Reno “Growing Grapes in Nevada” workshops well received

The University of Nevada, Reno's College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension partnered to teach the community about growing grapes in northern Nevada through their Grow Your Own Nevada workshops.

"The workshops are intended to instruct locals in the practices needed in northern Nevada to produce grapes in our local climate, as it is quite different from California," Cramer, a professor the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in CABNR, said. "The workshop was for people who are interested in growing in their backyard and some who have commercial interests."

The goal of the workshops was to give attendees an overview of the lifecycle of a typical winery and information on how to establish a vineyard.  The workshop was led by Cramer and Heidi Kratsch, an urban horticulture and sustainable plant specialist at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.  They talked about topics like as how to prepare the soil, physiology of vines and how they grow. They also taught participants what they can expect in terms of yield, watering tips, weed control, pruning and when to harvest the grapes.

According to Kratsch, wine grapes are susceptible to the environment, and the climate is becoming more conducive in western Nevada for growing grapes.

"On a global map, areas where grapes are currently grown will become too hot, over the next 30 to 50 years, to grow grapes and areas that used to be too cold to grow grapes are now becoming more suitable to growing wine grapes," Kratsch said. "Our conditions are already pretty good. We are averaging above 50 degrees throughout the year. Grant is experimenting with different varieties of grapes that will bud in the late spring to avoid the spring frost and produce fruit sooner to avoid the cold of the fall."

The response from the first workshop held in February was so positive, Cramer and Kratsch put on another workshop in April. At each workshop, there were more than 50 attendees.

"In the first workshop, 20 to 25 percent of the attendees were interested in commercial growing whereas in the second workshop, more of the attendees were interested in establishing a vineyard at their home," Kratsch said.

One of these attendees was Mary Sauvola, a board member of Wines and Vines, a non-profit organization that promotes viticulture and winemaking in northern Nevada/Reno, She is planting a vineyard in her yard with her brother. Sauvola said much of the information Cramer and Kratsch shared was very helpful.

"It was fabulous," Sauvola said. "I thought I would know a lot of the information that they were going to cover at the workshop, but I didn't. I was so thrilled that I attended."

The University has a vineyard on Valley Road that was established in 1995 and there are plans to establish another at the Main Station Field Lab on east McCarran Boulevard. Sauvola tends to 90 vines at the University's vineyards with a group from the Wines and Vines. They are in charge of planting, growing and caring for the grape vines.

"You get a real kinship with the people who you are working with when tending the grapes at the vineyard," Sauvola said.

These workshops will be held again next year in the spring of 2016. The "Growing Grapes in Nevada" workshop is part of Cooperative Extension's "Grow Your Own, Nevada!" spring series workshops. For more information about the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, visit http://www.unr.edu/cabnr/, and for more information about University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, visit http://www.unce.unr.edu/

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