For 95 years, grape growers and wine makers in Florida have had a unique resource to help with honing their skills. The Florida Wine and Grape Growers Association provides year-round information and assistance to those creative people who choose to grow grapes and make wine. Whether they are pursuing their passion as a career, or enjoying a hobby, wine makers can call on the FWGGA to answer a variety of questions both in the vineyard and in the winery.
Each year in January, members of the organization gather to exchange ideas, share their wines, and hear from viticulture experts from universities around the country. This year’s conference, held at Crystal Cove Riverfront Resort in Palatka, covered a variety of topics from vines to wines and included speakers from Cornell University, Florida A&M University, University of Florida, and University of Central Florida.
Seminars included a morning Boot Camp with an overview of vineyard development, wine making and wine making equipment, and making wines from kits. Detailed discussions of yeast and sulphur, sessions on wine tourism and using social media, and hands-on workshops on detecting wine flaws and determining the differences between Champagne and sparkling wines rounded out the weekend.
Time was also set aside for members and speakers alike to gather socially and talk about their favorite subject, making wine. Roundtables and Q&A discussions allowed for the exchange of ideas, and a wine tasting before the Saturday evening dinner and keynote address provided the opportunity for conference-goers to sample everything from experimental wines to some old favorites.
Of particular note for Southern Wine Trails followers was a discussion on the Challenges and Opportunities for Wine Tourism in Florida. Led by Doctors Rob Back and Asli Tasci from the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at UCF, the session centered on research being done to determine the potential for experiential wine travel and wine tourism in Florida. Members were asked to weigh in and complete a survey that will help gather the research.
The 2019 FWGGA Conference is tentatively scheduled to be held in Deland. The annual conference is open to FWGGA members as well as non-members. Members receive a discount on conference registration.
For conference and membership information, contact the Florida Wine and Grape Growers Association at P.O. Box 840256, St. Augustine, FL 32080. Phone 904-471-1063 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.