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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Vine and wine conference set for Feb. 29 in Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE - Vineyard management and wine making will be the focus of the Southwest Regional Vine and Wine Educational Conference 2008, Feb. 29 and March 1, at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Conference Center, 10300 Hotel Ave. NE in Albuquerque.

"The conference is designed to help growers and wine makers maintain New Mexico's high-quality wines," said Bernd Maier, New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service viticulture specialist. "We have excellent wines in New Mexico, but we're always striving to maintain the quality."

One way to continue the steady growth of vineyards in New Mexico is to understand the various climate zones of the state and finding the areas that are just right for growing grapes.

"Right now 85 percent of the vineyards are in the southern and southwest portion of the state," Maier said. "Assistant state climatologist Deborah Bathke will present climate data regarding the best areas for raising grapes."

Conference attendees will also be able to learn about a new grape variety, Traminette, from Patty Skinkis, viticulturist at Oregon State University. She will also present a session on the wine grape industry in Oregon.

"This variety might be very interesting for the northern part of New Mexico," Maier said. "It will be interesting to learn about it and have a Traminette tasting."

Other sessions at the conference will address aspects of horticulture, wine making and government regulations with presentations by NMSU Extension specialist and faculty members Lonnie Mathews, Steve Thomas and Jay Lillywhite; Ian Norrish of the New Mexico Vine and Wine Society; Greg Burnie of Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, Texas; and Julie Guffy of Demptos Napa, USA.

The conference will conclude Saturday with a wine reception and banquet with speaker New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Dr. I. Miley Gonzalez.

Registration cost for the two-day event is $135 for non-members of the New Mexico Vine and Wine Society and $100 for members. For more information and to register, visit http://viticulture.nmsu.edu/events.html .