Australia’s comprehensive and industry-focused wine research program, the envy of many around the world, is credited as a major reason for the phenomenal success of the country’s exported wines. Washington’s wine industry will explore Australia’s research model during a statewide grape convention.

Dr. Jim Hardie, chief executive officer of Australia’s Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture, will be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers scheduled for February 8-10 in Kennewick, Washington. He will give an overview of Australia’s research program.

Hardie’s primary interest is the application of new knowledge and technology for the production of premium quality wine and other grape products. He will also lead a discussion during the wine grape convention about sustainable viticulture practices.

The convention will be held at a new location-Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

Meeting highlights include:

February 8-Viticulture sessions will focus on pest management and diseases and within-vineyard variability on both large and small scales and tools to predict yield and variability. Enology sessions will discuss regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol, Tax, and Trade Bureau and how to prepare for inspections and look at microbiology, new information on Brettanomyces, and technical issues.

In a session on grape hang time during harvest, Andy Beckstoffer from Beckstoffer Vineyards, Rutherford, California, will give the grower perspective and Larry Levin of Icon Estates, Rutherford, will offer the winery viewpoint.

February 9-A morning general session will feature keynote speaker Hardie and Nancy Irelan, vice president of E&J Gallo, as they discuss research models and strategies. Alan Campbell of the Oregon Vineyard Database will explain his work in mapping Oregon vineyards. Dr. Greg Jones of Southern Oregon University will talk about the implications of climate change and wine.

In an afternoon session focusing on growing Italian varietals, grower and winemaker panels will discuss their experiences with the cultivars. The enology session will look at new and emerging technologies for winemaking, with Peter Meybaum of Vinovation America, Inc., discussing alcohol and volatile acidity adjustment and Gordon Burns, ETS Laboratories, providing ways to avoid cork taint.

February 10-A morning session will focus on sustainability from vineyard to winery, who’s doing it and why, with examples of different approaches. Hardie will talk about the Australian wine industry’s path to sustainability and Joe Chauncey of Seattle’s architectural firm Boxwood will discuss designing a sustainable winery and its extension to the sustainable vineyard. Enology sessions will examine wine faults and how to avoid or fix them.

The industry awards luncheon will conclude the three-day convention. For registration information, call (509) 782-8234.