Eldon Everhart , field specialist,Commercial Horticulture
In the 1950's, the use of 2,4-D herbicide on field crops killed the grape industry in Iowa . During 1999, a group of estate winemakers began promoting grape growing in Iowa . In 2000, the Iowa Grape Growers Association was formed and approximately 100 acres of commercial vineyards were planted. The problem is that most of the individuals who have planted or are planning to plant grapes in Iowa have no knowledge or experience growing grapes or making wine.
In response to this need, Eldon Everhart, Horticulture FS, and Jack Van Laar, Decatur CEED, planned two Grape and Wine Workshops. The programs were implemented at the Timberhill Vineyard and Winery near Leon , Iowa . Careful planning and grant funds were used to recover costs of the program.
In addition to grape producers, representatives of three state legislators, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardships and the Governor attended. A conservative estimate of the average impact of the workshop in savings for startup costs and/or mistakes not made by each participant is at least $4,000. This represents a total conservative impact of at least $90,000. Responses to the question on the program's follow-up evaluation included the following:
* This program will boost my income $30,000 within the next five to nine years.
* This program could save me $10,000 or more.
* My primary goal would be to enhance the asset value of my property.
* To get a better return on my land.
* It gives us potential for a new career.
* This will eventually provide an additional source of income.
* Many of the things I have been reading came together at the workshop.
* Some of the vines I planted did not survive last winter and now I know not to replant them because they are not meant for my area.
* This program has helped me narrow my search for the proper cultivar to plant.
* It will help me decide which cultivars to plant in subsequent years.
* Hopefully will prevent some typical beginner blunders.
* I am going to start a vineyard with my brother and market some of my own wine.
* Better business plan and more defined goal.
* A lot of basic knowledge about grape production that I did not know.
* As my interest is in plant hybridizing, I was most impressed with my conversations with Eldon.
* Thanks for the workshop! Good job Jack and Eldon.
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July 11, 2006
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