The 28th annual Gulf Coast Grape Growers Field Day educational program is scheduled for 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Cat Spring Agricultural Society Hall, 13035 Hall Road, Cat Spring. A wine social will follow educational programming.

This year's field day includes an optional one-hour industry perspective for those new to the grape and wine industry.

"Grape and wine production in Texas has noticeably grown and improved in recent years, yet it remains a challenging endeavor for Texans," said Fran Pontasch, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist in viticulture. "In 2020, we will have the commercial release of years of research and development in Pierce's disease management. These developments allow more options for growers and winemakers in the high disease pressure of the Gulf Coast, Central and North Texas winegrowing regions. It's an exciting time for Texas winegrowers and winemakers."

The day's topics will include both basic and applied research updates for improved vineyard and winery management.

Morning presenters and topics will include Carlos Gonzales, professor in the Texas A&M department of plant pathology and microbiology, who will discuss the recently commercialized bacteriophage as an approach for managing Pierce's disease; Justin Scheiner, AgriLife Extension specialist in viticulture, who will talk about recent updates in monitoring nutrition; And Fritz Westover of Westover Vineyard Advising and Pontasch, who will offer improvements on vineyard management tasks and disease management.

Barbecue lunch will be available courtesy o Texas Wine and Grape Grower Association director Dacota Haselwood and association Gulf Coast Winery representative Stephen Morgan of Saddlehorn Winery in Burton.

Afternoon topics and presenters include pesticide laws and regulations by Don Renchie, AgriLife Extension program leader and pesticide safety education program coordinator, followed by a new and old look at Herbemont, the grape and wine, with George Ray McEachern, AgriLife Extension horticulturist and Bill Christopher of Christopher Family Vineyards.

The afternoon also will include a wine pour from Blue Lotus Winery.

Andrea Botezatu, AgriLife Extension viticulturist, will close out the educational segment with a talk on managing pH in the winery.

An RSVP is requested for the "New Grower" hour from 8:15-9:15 a.m. The main program immediately follows at 9:15 a.m.

Registration is $35 at the door and includes lunch and presentations. Registration for members of the Gulf Coast Winegrowers Association is $25. For more information and to RSVP, contact, or Pontasch at

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