On-Trend Quality Techniques for Winemaking

Bringing winemaking trends directly to the winemakers themselves, Michael Attanasi, Coordinator at the Virginia Winemakers’ Research Exchange, will be presenting a two-part discussion at the wine industry’s newest technical conference and exposition, US Wine & Beverage Expo 2017 (USBevX). Shooting for the highest quality of panel topics, speakers, and vendors that are currently trending for East Coast and Mid-western wineries and winemakers, organizers of the Expo have asked Attanasi to moderate two practical-application sessions: Whole Cluster Inclusion: Exploring Quality Trends in Eastern Winemaking and The Effect of Granular Oak Additions: Exploring Quality Trends in Eastern Winemaking

Attanasi is excited about these sessions. “There is a lot of interest in the East Coast wine industry on improving the overall regional quality, particularly help with stability and mouthfeel. People are excited about these trends. We are bringing these experimental wines to the forum so people can both see and do. It’s a hands-on approach.” 

His novel approach of actually bringing to the trial wines to the conference may have the desired effect. “We’ll try to have everyone taste the wines blind. They won’t know which is which. Then we’ll show the lab and chemical data. We’ll look at what you are actually tasting, and then compare the lab results. From an industrial standpoint it’s important to do this. We can show the data, and also remove the level of abstraction.” 

Attanasi feels it is important to bring these techniques to USBevX. He says that he was approached by the producers and asked to discuss a winemaking project that would be of interest to winemakers on the East Coast. “Not as many here are as familiar with whole cluster fermentation,” he reports. He says he’s heard from winemakers in Virginia and Maryland, who particularly want to learn more about granular oak and its uses. 

Unlike in California and Oregon, where wineries tend to be clustered close together, and winemakers see each other frequently to discuss winemaking trends, Attanasi feels that information is disseminated differently in the East Coast wine community. “They ask each other, see what their neighbors are doing, and adopt things that are working for others. The practices seem more organic.” He hopes that attending winemakers will be excited about these hands-on seminars featuring tastings where they can try wines made side-by-side and have a debate. 

Having been to Unified Wine Symposium in Sacramento, Attanasi comments on the US BevX 2017, “It’s nice that it’s tailored to the region, and the talks seem pertinent to many of the challenges and problems that people of this region are having. Having it in Washington D.C. is a great central location. Virginia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania winemakers can all attend. It’s an excellent choice.”

Voicing a concern for Virginia winemakers, Attanasi notes, “Virginia wineries have a hard time getting their product into Washington DC. Other wine regions, such as the West Coast and France, are represented to a much greater degree than local wines, despite local foods becoming a much sought-after commodity in their food scene. Having this event will give more awareness to restauranteurs to pay attention and puts a spotlight on East Coast wines.”

Asked if conferences like these move the wine industry forward, Attanasi replied, “I personally think they are a great opportunity to discuss what people are doing. People talk to neighbors, but here is an opportunity to have a broader range of folks to talk with up and down the eastern seaboard.” He continues, “Educational opportunities are somewhat lacking on the East Coast, and the concentration of wineries is less. The [overarching] Quality topic of this conference is important, but not only for individual wineries success, but for the success of the entire region and all the wineries within it.”

USBevX 2017 will be held in Washington D.C, from February 22-24 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. For more information go to: www.usbevexpo.com.

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