June 22, 2007
For Immediate Release
Jennie Schmidt, Secretary

Grape Growers Hold Summer Field Day

The Maryland Grape Growers Association (MGGA) held its annual summer field day on Saturday, June 16th at Summerseat Vineyard in Mechanicsville, MD. Attended by approximately 45 participants, the annual field day provides growers with the opportunity to visit vineyards in different regions of Maryland, learn how growers are managing issues such as vigor, pests, disease, and other viticultural issues, and provide educational sessions for grape growers.

Summerseat is a historic property dating to 1773. The vineyard is managed by Pat Isles, who also produces wine from the grapes. There are 12 different grape varieties planted at Summerseat which helps expand the knowledge base about which varieties grow best in the Southern Maryland region. Both European vinifera varieties such as Sangiovese, Shiraz, and Nebbiola, and hybrid varieties such as Vidal, Chambourcin, and Foch are planted on the 1/2 acre parcel.

In addition to a walking tour and current situation assessment of the vineyard, the program included sessions on important topics for grape growers in Maryland. Dr. Anne DeMarsay, University of Maryland Fruit Pathologist discussed the importance of managing disease to limit fruit rot. Due to the state’s humidity and rainfall, control of fruit diseases can be challenging. Dr. DeMarsay detailed the various control measures for limiting fruit rot and other grape diseases. Ben Beale, Extension Educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension, provided demonstrations on various spray equipment and calibration, as well as conducted private pesticide applicator recertification updates. Dr. Joe Fiola, University of Maryland Viticulturist conducted a tasting of the experimental wines produced from the Southern Maryland research vineyards.

Farmer and new grape grower, William Layton of Dorchester County said 'The MGGA field day was especially good for me this year as a new grower. I was able to see other vines at a similar growth stage as mine, and to see more mature vines which will help me train my vines properly. I was able to bring all the questions that I had since planting my vines two months ago, and ask experts in the field of viticulture as well as established grape growers. The field day help me with disease identification, explained varietal difference that I had noticed in my vines, and provided excellent information on how to properly use the new airblast sprayer I bought this year. I even learned a little more about how to properly taste wines. The field day was definitely educational for me'.