Viticulture summer tailgates educate the novice, veteran grower

Wednesday, July 17, 2019
viticulture tailgate

Christine Barta, a junior horticulture major (from left), and research technologists Stephen Gamet and Benjamin Loseke give a tour of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln table grape high tunnel project at the July 2 viticulture tailgate.

Fran Benne | Agronomy and Horticulture

The first of three University of Nebraska Viticulture Program tailgates was held July 2 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln East Campus. Attendees were given a first look at the new high tunnel table grape project followed by visits to the ongoing wine grape research vineyard which boasts over 30 cultivars and breeder selections being tested.

According to Paul Read, professor of agronomy and horticulture, the table grape project is now in its third growing season, so a modest harvest is projected for several of the cultivars being tested. As an addendum — because it was only released last year — there are also second-year Everest plants on trial in the high tunnel. Aptly named Everest, the new table grape from Cornell University’s breeding program has reached previously unknown heights in terms of fruit quality and productivity.

“The University of Nebraska Viticulture Program continues to be instructive and educational for Nebraska’s grape and wine industry as it includes new selections from different breeding programs and replaces cultivars and selections as they are proven to be useful or rejected as unsuitable for Nebraska vineyards,” Read said.

The viticulture tailgates will focus on what needs to be done to prepare for harvest. The hot weather may mean earlier than normal harvest times and the discussions will include:

  • Estimating likely crop load.
  • Tank space.
  • Adequate plans for harvest personnel.
  • Picking by hand or machine harvest?
  • Routine maintenance on harvester — does it need repairs, parts replaced or extra bow rods?
  • Scouting vineyards for the invasion of pesky critters. There have been recent reports of Japanese beetles in some vineyards.

The next viticulture tailgates are scheduled for July 31 and Aug. 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. Free and open to the public, the tailgates are for anyone interested in growing grapes commercially or in a home garden setting. The programs will focus on summer vineyard tasks, crop estimation and pre-harvest management issues.

The July 31 tailgate will take place at the George Spencer Tasting Room, 7155 Pawnee Rd. near Gibbon, Nebraska. The Aug. 7 tailgate will be held at Cellar 426 Wines and Vines, 1402 Dennis Dean Rd. near Ashland, Nebraska.

For more information, visit the Nebraska Viticulture Program website or contact Professor Paul Read at or Stephen Gamet, research technologist for agronomy and horticulture, at

viticulture tailgate Paul Read

Professor Paul Read discusses wine grape research at the July 2 viticulture tailgate with attendees Megan and Sean Cox from Omaha in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln East Campus vineyard.

viticulture tailgate Stephen Gamet

Stephen Gamet inspects Itasca grapes July 2 in the wine grape research vineyard which boasts over 30 cultivars and breeder selections.

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