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Westside Winemaking, Farmscaping, Partnership

Posted by | May 15, 2008

Basic Winemaking Using Maritime Grapes

Upcoming workshop teaches participants basic winemaking using westside Washington grapes.

Upcoming workshop teaches participants basic winemaking using westside Washington grapes.

If you are a westside winemaker, in the early phases of opening a winery, planning to open a winery, or just dreaming about it, Washington State University Extension has a workshop for you.

The all-day beginner’s workshop on winemaking is offered June 30, from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon.

Organized and led by WSU Extension enologist and assistant professor of food science Kerry Ringer, the workshop is tailored especially for maritime Washington production. Speakers include Domaine St. Michelle’s sparkling winemaker Rick Casqueiro, Extension enologist Jim Harbertson, WSU wine microbiologist Charles Edwards, Walla Walla Community College’s Mike Moyer, plus winemakers from the Puget Sound Wine Growers Association and Eastern Washington.

The morning session covers basic winemaking, winery equipment and costs, wine microbiology and grape selection. The afternoon session addresses winemaking with maritime Washington grapes, including, sparkling wine and Pinot Noir production, sugar and acid balance, wine blending, and perspectives from local winemakers.

To register for the day-long intensive workshop, point your browser to or call 360-416-7605 for more information. Registration is $125 per person before June 2, $150 per person thereafter. The WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center is located at 16650 State Route 536 in Mount Vernon.

Putting the Pressure on Pests

Farmscaping can mitigate pest outbreaks through diversity.

Farmscaping can mitigate pest outbreaks through diversity.

For more information on farmscaping, including information on federal cost share programs, please visit:

For more information on the Xerces Society, please visit:

For more information on the Natural Resource Conservation Service, please visit:

Benton and Franklin County Extension, in collaboration with the Xerces Society and Natural Resource Conservation Service, is offering a workshop focusing on habitat and conservation practices for beneficial insects on farms. The field day is May 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the campus of Columbia Basin College, and features a visit to Sagemoor Farms. The workshop costs $25 per person and includes a box lunch.

Beneficial insects live wild in agricultural landscapes and can provide valuable services to farms. Predatory and parasitic insects are critically important for helping to keep pest insects in check, and native bees can be significant pollinators of crops. However, to maximize their contribution to farms, these beneficial insects require natural habitat features that are often lacking in farm landscapes. Conservation buffers and other on-farm habitat can increase populations of these beneficial insects—and the important services they provide—to enhance farm production and improve environmental quality.

One way to invite beneficial insects to the feast on your farm or in your vineyard is through “farmscaping.” As Rex Dufur, a specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, writes, “‘Farmscaping’ is a whole-farm, ecological approach to pest management. It can be defined as the use of hedgerows, insectary plants, cover crops, and water reservoirs to attract and support populations of beneficial organisms such as insects, bats, and birds of prey.”

Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel, Extension educator for Benton and Franklin counties and a tree fruit and viticulture specialist, said, “Farmscaping is not a replacement for pesticides, but an augmentation. Farmscaping can mitigate pest outbreaks so that they’re not so severe. The more diverse an insect system is, the more likely it is to be pest resistant. A well-planned farmscape could also add value to a farm in terms of making it more attractive to tourists.”

Participants in the workshop will learn how pollinator, parasitic, and predatory insects are important for our food systems; the importance of providing beneficial-insect friendly habitat near crops; and practical steps that can be taken to improve beneficial insect populations on farms.

To register for the workshop, please visit:

WSU Teaching Vineyard Benefits from Phinny Hill Vineyard

Phinny Hill Vineyards' generosity led to support for vines in WSU's teaching vineyard in the Tri-Cities.

Phinny Hill Vineyards’ generosity resulted in trellis support for vines in WSU’s teaching vineyard in the Tri-Cities.

Workers from Phinny Hill Vineyards installed a trellis system in the teaching vineyard at WSU Tri-Cities.

Phinny Hill Vineyards donated about $10,000 worth of labor and equipment to the project. The team was led by Richard Beightol of Phinny Hill Vineyards, a 100-acre vineyard located in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation in Alderdale, south of Prosser.

The teaching vineyard was started last year, with about 200 vines. Another 200 vines were planted this past February. Now a half-acre, the vineyard includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling.

“I was doing research on berry shrivel with Richard at his vineyard,” said Bhaskar Bondada, assistant professor in the WSU viticulture and enology program. “I was talking about our teaching vineyard and he offered to help. He is committed to supporting viticulture education in our region.”

The goal of the teaching vineyard is to provide a place for viticulture and enology students to apply the scientific principles underlying grape growing and wine making, Bondada said. The first quality grapes for making wine should be harvested in two years.

“Both of our sons — Will and Brandon — went to WSU,” Beightol said of the inspiration for his help with the teaching vineyard. “We are appreciative of what WSU does for the wine grape industry. And our mentor, Bud Mercer, always has been supportive of WSU.” Bud Mercer is the owner of Mercer Estates Wine and vice president of the Walter

In addition to Phinny Hill Vineyards, the teaching vineyard has received support from Irrigation Specialists, Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards, Bookwalter Winery LLC, and Inland Desert Nursery.