The Purdue Wine Grape Team is cultivating the industry by taking small business owners away from their vineyard operations to a place where they can turn off their iPhones and learn something new.
Winemakers from Indiana, California, Florida and Illinois recently joined the Purdue team for a 10-day tour of Northern Spain and Portugal’s historic wine industries, many of which have been in business for hundreds if not thousands of years.
“To see remnants of Roman walls and well-restored 10th century cathedrals, it’s just amazing, said Bruce Bordelon, professor of viticulture at Purdue University. “But to see the towns and villages and meet the people that make and sell the wine, that’s much more informative.
“Our industry members really appreciate that aspect of our tours. They can put it into perspective for their own wineries. These experiences may help them re-think their tasting room layout, VIP tours or how they interact with customers,” Bordelon said.
Tour participants range in age from 23 to 80; some have returned to participate in tours to other regions.
“This was the fourth tour,” said Christian Butzke, professor of enology for Purdue’s Department of Food Science and Purdue Extension specialist. “Whether we went to Italy, Argentina or New Zealand, every trip required a great deal of time and detail to coordinate, but we could always count on Purdue’s untold international connections.”
“As we travel together, we build lasting relationships. We get to know one another and have discussions about equipment, winemaking techniques, and what sells well,” he added.
“The opportunity to observe wineries with large bottling operations, as well as mechanized, computer-controlled grape growing and winemaking provided valuable insights into our future system upgrades,” said Jeanne Burgess, director of winemaking operations for Seavin, Inc., a winemaker based in Florida, and long-time judge for Purdue’s Indy International Wine Competition. “Kudos to the Purdue Wine Grape Team for planning and supporting this tremendous continuing education opportunity for our industry.”
The Purdue Wine Grape Team is a collaboration between one of the country’s largest land-grant universities and the state-supported Indiana Wine Grape Council.
Composed of Purdue Extension specialists in winegrowing, winemaking and wine marketing, the team provides cutting-edge expertise for the advancement of the industry’s leadership in Indiana, the nation, and around the world.
Butzke credits Purdue’s International Programs in Agriculture for their continued logistical support as the Wine Grape Team continues to take the mission of Purdue Extension around the world.