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Friday, March 26, 2010

Wine where you would least expect it

Veritas Vineyard & Winery, Afton, VA.

No, I don't mean Virginia!

Among my small fruit research and extension responsibilities are grapes, and in North Carolina, this includes wine/bunch grapes (Vitis vinfera) and muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia). This Tuesday, the Virgina IPM Program and Southern Region IPM Center held a Pest Management Strategic Plan meeting at Veritas Vineyard near Afton, VA. The purpose of this meeting was to construct a PMSP for NC and VA wine grapes. This document will provide research, regulatory, and education priorities for the industry and a valuable tool for those of us in the university as we write proposals to address these priorities. Not too long ago, Virginia and North Carolina were thought to be strange places to find wine. There are, however, much more unusual "wine countries" to be found.

This morning, I was reminded of another wine experience I had about 9 years ago while an international student at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. I chose Thailand and the Faculty of Economics exchange program because I was interested in rural development. During the school year, I took courses to better understand the dynamics of rural Thai societies, and in the summer, I had the unique opportunity to live with an NGO (Wildlife Fund Thailand, which apparently no longer exists) and learn about their development and preservation efforts. One of the locations I visited was GranMonte Vineyard & Winery, near Khao Yai National Park. They had just planted their vines the year before and had not yet begun to harvest grapes. Their main concern at the time was keeping the birds at bay, a common challenge the southeast shares. Now, several years later, they are bottling wine and drawing, at least, regional attention. My Virginia colleagues may not want to watch the video on their website, however! Thailand is always on my list of places to return to, and when I do get back, I will have to stop by and see how they have grown.

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