Pennsylvania State University

About the Wine Grape Program at Penn State Cooperative Extension

The Wine Grape Program at Penn State Cooperative Extension provides viticulture educational services and opportunities to the commercial vineyard industry in Pennsylvania, mainly through workshops, field meetings and visits, electronic media and direct contact with grape growers. It works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Association of Winegrowers, Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Program and other organizations, agencies, education and research institutions to serve the needs and advance the growth of the wine industry. It began in 1999 as a collaboration between the Southeast Grape Growers Association and Penn State Cooperative Extension, part of the College of Agricultural Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University. The program focuses on the needs of the commercial wine grape industry in Pennsylvania. Its activities are guided by an advisory committee made up of industry members and associates, and extension and research personnel. It expanded from its original 16 counties to a statewide program in 2001. Mark Chien is the current viticulture extension educator and is based in the Lancaster County Cooperative Extension office.

Cooperative extension seeks to disseminate research-based knowledge and technology to those who can use and benefit from it. The land grant university system in the U.S. is the base of cooperative extension. New entries into the commercial wine industry must realize that extension educators are not consultants. While they are almost always available for individual advice and recommendations, their primary mission is to serve agricultural communities, not specific individuals.

There are numerous information, news and events outlets for the Wine Grape Program. The Wine Grape Information viticulture e-newsletters provide periodic current and relevant updates and information to wine grape growers in Pennsylvania and around the region. Workshops, meetings, and field meetings are schedule throughout the year. Topics include commercial vineyard pruning, new grape grower workshops, disease and pest management, and all aspects of commercial vineyard production, quality and sustainability. The program is part of a regional network of viticulture and enology extension and research resources that is available to commercial grape growers.

Mark Chien has been the viticulture extension educator since 1999. After developing an interest in grapes while traveling in Europe, he studied viticulture in the graduate program at the University of California at Davis. He worked as a vineyard manager and wine maker for three years at Pindar Vineyards on Long Island, then as vineyard manager for 16 years at Temperance Hill Vineyard in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. As a grower, he interacted with extension agents as a grower cooperator. His experience is based in commercial vineyard principles and practices but informed by research-based information.

The purpose of the Wine Grape Network web site is to make available to commercial wine grape growers information that is generated by the Wine Grape Program including viticulture articles, meeting materials including speaker presentations, information for new grape growers, key viticulture information links, current events of interest to wine grape growers and an archive of newsletters and other resources. It is a very small part of the vast ocean of viticulture information available on the internet. It will strive to help wine growers in Pennsylvania and the region to get to the information they need and can use as quickly as possible.

For more information about Mark Chien and the Wine Grape Program, please read the “Fruit of the Vine” an article published in Penn State’s Ag Science magazine in 2010.

The web site is generously funded by the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Program and Penn State Cooperative Extension.