Cool Climate in a Hot Market
"Cool Climate in a Hot Market" is the theme of Uncorked, the Grape and Wine Industry Conference & Trade Show scheduled for June 5 & 6 at Niagara College, Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Speakers from Australia, the United States and Europe will join local experts to examine issues related to grape growing in a cool climate area and the ever-present challenges of selling wine in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The ultimate goal of this inaugural conference is to develop an action plan to address challenges facing the industry, take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace and set the scene for long-term prosperity and sustainability. Cold hardiness, market differentiation and consumer-driven strategies are among the topics to be covered over the two days. Keynote speakers include Dr. Gordon Surgeoner, President of Ontario Agri-food Technologies and recipient of the Order of Ontario for his work in reducing pesticide use and enhancing productivity in Ontario agriculture, and Jennifer-Jo Wiseman, Vice-President for Consumer Product Insights at E&J Gallo in California.
Dr. Surgeoner will speak on the role of research in supporting industry growth, while Ms. Wiseman will provide insight related to identifying and capitalizing on consumer trends to increase sales. Dr. Johan Bruwer, senior lecturer at Adelaide University, Australia, brings expertise in wine brand building, consumer behaviour and risk management strategies with a case study in Consumer Driven Strategy.
Topics also include "winter resistant vines," presented by grape breeder Valentin Blattner, who is recognized internationally for his work in developing hybrid grape varieties better able to withstand specific challenges in the vineyard. Dr. Wayne Wilcox, Professor at Cornell University, will be speaking on Vineyard Disease Management.
Concurrent with the conference, a trade show will present industry members with the latest in products for grape growing and winemaking.
The economic impact of the Ontario grape and wine industry is wide-ranging. It provides a market for some 500 grape growers who generate, on average, a farm gate value of $40-50 million and has created jobs for approximately 5000 people, most of whom work in the Niagara region, an area that has known a very high unemployment rate. Sales of Ontario wine total approximately $450 million, and every $10 million of that translates into $14.8 million in economic activity in the province (source Deloitte and Touche). Maintaining vibrant growth is essential to the continued economic contribution of both the grape growing and winemaking industries.