Small Scale Winemaking Workshop Helps to Spawn New Wineries in Iowa and the Midwest

Michael L. White, Extension Viticulture Specialist, Central Area

Problem Statement:

The Midwest native winery business has grown exponentially over the last 8 years.  Iowa alone has grown from 13 federally licensed wineries in the state in 2000 to 72 as of October of 2008.  The number of winegrape vineyards increased from approximately 5 to 400 in the same period of time.   Native Iowa wine sales have grown from 44,928 gallons ending in state fiscal year 2002 to 170,478 gallons during the same period in 2008. Native wine sales growth over the last year increased 14%.  The majority of this wine is being produced by hobby winemakers who jumped into the commercial winemaking business without any formal training.   Providing a source of mentoring and formal training to these new Midwest winemakers is and will be essential to ensure the wine quality and business expertise needed to maintain this new industry over time.

Programmatic Response:

Mike White, Viticulture Specialist with ISU Extension’s Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute partnered with Robert Dodds, Lee County Extension & Education Director and Sandy McLain, Van Buren County Extension & Education Director to organize a workshop for new and potential commercial winemakers in southeast Iowa, an area where the one year old Scenic Rivers Wine Trail now boasts 13 wineries. The e-mail promotional flyer was sent to Iowa’s and neighboring states.  Michael Pence of Heartland Harvest Winery in Fort Madison, Iowa agree to host the workshop and Alan Dillard, winemaking consultant and owner of Limestone Creek Winery in Jonesboro, Illinois was hired to be the primary instructor.  Alan Dillard concentrated primarily on white and red wine production, winery equipment and design.  Michael Pence demonstrated several wine laboratory methods of analysis and Mike White gave an overview of some successful small winery business practices. This 2-day workshop was held on Friday & Saturday, November 14-15, 2008 for a fee of $335 per individual.


Fifteen individuals (3 – WI, 1- MO,  3-NE, 8- IA) attended the Small Scale Winemaking Workshop in Ft. Madison.  Seven owned a commercial vineyard, three were new commercial winemakers. Eight of the fifteen students intended to establish a winery in the future. Six of the Iowa attendees were from southeast Iowa. The overall “end of workshop” evaluation from this class was 4.83 (1 poor – 5 excellent).  100% of the respondents would recommend this workshop to someone else.  They also gave a 4.83 rating for the personal economic value of this workshop.  The personal mentoring Alan Dillard offered to the participants of this workshop and the relationships established between the students and instructors will provide added economic and social benefits for many years to come.


131 Commercial Horticulture Production Methods & Systems

Page last updated: November 20, 2008
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