University experts discuss how to grow grapes in Nevada’s diverse and stressful climate
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Herds and Harvest Program is offering “Growing Grapes and Making Wine in Nevada,” March 18 in Reno and April 14 in Las Vegas. Taught in partnership with the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, the workshop is meant to help beginning farmers and ranchers, and anyone interested in grape growing and wine making, to develop agricultural entrepreneurship, implement sustainable agricultural marketing strategies and improve profitability.
“Grapes use one-tenth of the water that alfalfa and other grain crops need to grow,” faculty member Jordan Chaffin, who is teaching during the workshop, said in a press release. “In addition, wine growing has been booming across the country, especially in Washington State, which has a similar climate to northern Nevada. It’s a $4 billion industry in Washington, and Nevada could be next.”
Professor Grant Cramer will join Chaffin in teaching the workshops. Quality winemaking will be discussed at both workshops. The workshop in Reno will focus on growing grapes in northern Nevada, while the workshop in Las Vegas will focus on growing grapes in southern Nevada. The Reno class will conclude with a wine tasting of local varieties.
The University has been doing research on growing grapes in Nevada since establishing its own vineyard in 1995. Cramer has been doing research for more than 30 years on helping plants grow in adverse conditions. His research focuses on growing plants that tolerate salt-water irrigation, drought and cold. He was named the College’s Researcher of the Year in 2006 and 2010.
Chaffin graduated from University of California, Davis, with a degree in viticulture and enology, or wine making, in 2015. During the past seven years, he has been making wine and planning and planting vineyards. He has worked for companies in Napa and Sonoma in California, and for companies in New Zealand.
The Reno workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the Las Vegas workshop will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $20 and covers lunch. The Reno class and wine tasting will be at the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center, 450 Sinclair St. Register online at https://growinggrapesandmakingwineinnevadareno.eventbrite.com. The Las Vegas class will be at the Clark County Cooperative Extension Office, 8050 Paradise Road, Suite 105. Register online at https://growinggrapesandmakingwinelasvegas.eventbrite.com.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.