Annual Wine Symposium at Surry to Feature Industry Experts

The Sixth Annual Southeastern United Grape and Wine Symposium hosted by Surry Community College on November 8 at the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology on the college’s Dobson campus will include a bevy of leaders within the grape growing, winemaking, and wine marketing industries. The symposium’s focus this year is “Finding the Perfect Blend.”

Marla Carroll, a winemaker at Franciscan Estate in the Napa Valley, will lead a presentation focused on “The Art of Blending.” Carroll holds a degree in Biotechnology from the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) with a concentration in Enology and Fermentation Sciences and has served in many roles at Franciscan Estate since 2004. It is her passion for food and flavors that shapes her approach to crafting wine as she pays close attention to the character and expression of each lot to create wines with complexity and nuance.

North Carolina State University Assistant Professor and Small Fruits Extension Specialist Dr. Mark Hoffmann will share his expertise in grape production with a presentation entitled “East Meets West.” Hoffmann graduated magna cum laude from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany with a Ph.D. in Soil Ecology and Entomology, and conducted postdoctoral research with the University of Florida and UC Davis before joining N.C. State’s Horticulture Science department in July of this year.

Scott Laboratories Fermentation Specialist Michael Jones will discuss “Blending Around the World for Complexity and Consistency” during his session of the symposium. Prior to joining Scott Labs and in an effort to share his wealth of knowledge with North America at trade shows and seminars throughout the country, Jones, a UC Davis grad, built up over 35 years of winemaking experience both domestically and abroad. Jones has lived and worked in Burgundy, France and the Hunter Valley, Australia; domestically, he worked for several notable vineyards including Novavine, Hanzell Vineyards, Caymus Vineyards and spent 19 years taking on a multitude of roles at Domaine Chandon.

Travis Snodgrass and Brad Boyd, Pesticide Inspectors with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) will discuss “Correctly Blending Pesticides and Worker Protection Standard Changes.” Snodgrass holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture from Virginia Tech. He has been with the NCDA for 10 years, and cultivated a wealth of agricultural knowledge before joining the NCDA as a greenhouse and nursery grower. Boyd is a graduate of Penn State, and spent 10 years as a golf course superintendent before bringing his talents to the NCDA in 2014.

Eglantine Chauffour, technical winemaker at Enartis USA, is responsible for research projects, technical support and consulting services for the wine industry, and will speak on the subject of “How and Why to Blend.” Chauffour’s presentation will explore the processes behind blending to reach a certain style and blending to remove a fault, as well as what aspects to consider when blending two wines together. Chauffour holds a double Master’s degree in Viticulture-Oenology and Agronomic Engineering from Montpellier SupAgro in France. Her international background, with previous work experience in France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and now the United States, gives Chauffour a uniquely broad view of wine and the processes it takes to make a wine of quality.

Dr. Cain Hickey, Assistant Professor of Viticulture at the University of Georgia (UGA), will present on the topic of “Growing Your Blend.” Cain has worked in viticulture research and extension since 2007, when employed at the Penn State Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center in North East, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Penn State with a Bachelors of Science in Horticulture Science, Hickey began graduate studies at Virginia Tech where he received a Ph.D. in 2016. During his time at Virginia Tech, Hickey focused on applied research in several viticulture areas including irrigation management, cover crop and rootstock use, and canopy and fruit-zone management; he is now working to solve regional vineyard management issues in Georgia through his position at UGA.

Dr. Bill Alter, Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) Special Projects Coordinator, will address workforce needs of the grape and wine industry through VESTA’s Registered Apprenticeship (RA) Program. VESTA’s RA Program exists to enable employers to assist their existing and new employees in becoming valuable contributors to a company’s growth through on-the-job training and related technical instruction in a cost-effective, time-efficient manner. After a career in the Air Force, a position with the University of Texas at San Antonio, a Space Grant Fellowship with NASA, and a brief stint in research and development at a bioremediation company, Alter found himself at Missouri State University (MSU) as the Director of the Sponsored Program Office. In 2003, MSU received a grant from the Advanced Technological Education Program of the National Science Foundation, which led to VESTA, an organization in its 14th year with partnerships with 16 two- and four-year colleges and universities located throughout the United States.

The symposium is an all day event that begins at 7 a.m. with breakfast to kick off the full day of events. As a part of the symposium, the college’s annual Grand Wine Tasting from 5 to 7 p.m. will highlight wines of the Southeast complemented by heavy hors d’oeuvres. Singer Melva Houston will entertain during the tasting with a set of jazz and blues songs accompanied by her band.

The Grand Wine Tasting is open to the public for a non-conference rate of $25 plus processing fees. The entire conference registration cost, which includes admission to the Grand Wine Tasting, $120 plus processing fees.

Participants can register for the entire symposium or the Grand Wine Tasting at Additionally, VESTA will offer “Sensory Evaluation of Wine” and “Wine Must Analysis” workshops on the days leading up to and following the symposium. A separate registration form is required for each workshop. Go to for more information.

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