Friday, May 31, 2024 WineMaker Conference Schedule

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Finding & Buying the Best Grapes – General Winemaking
You can’t make great wine without great grapes. But if you aren’t growing your own grapes, what are the best ways to get your hands on the best grapes? You’ll gain different tips whether you live in wine country with easier access to local fruit or don’t live in a wine region so have to rely on retailers and wholesalers for your grapes. Learn the right questions to ask, how to determine quality, and your best bet to buy quality grapes for your next batch of wine.

Bob Peak
Technical Editor and “Techniques” Columnist, WineMaker Magazine

Winemaking Math: Calculate your Way to Better Wine – Advanced Winemaking
Making wine is part art, part science…and part math. While you don’t want to just make wine by the numbers, you don’t want to skip out on wine-related calculations that can make a big difference in the quality of your final wine in the glass. Learn what formulas and calculations you need to know as a winemaker that will guide you towards better decisions throughout the winemaking process with professional winemaker and longtime WineMaker Columnist Chik Brenneman.

Chik Brenneman
Winemaker and Partner, Baker Family Wines
“Varietal Focus” Columnist, WineMaker Magazine

Top 5 Lessons Learned Growing My Own Grapes – Grape Growing

Each year in the WineMaker International Competition we recognize the top scoring wine made from ingredients grown by the entrant. Ken and Leah Stafford won our Best of Show Estate Grown with grapes they grew themselves at their home vineyard. We thought in addition to advice from professional vineyard managers this conference, it would also be helpful and very relevant to hear from a fellow hobby grape grower about their top five tips to growing better wine grapes in a small-scale backyard vineyard.

Ken Stafford
Best of Show Estate Grown Winner, WineMaker Competition

10:30 – 11:00 AM

WINEMAKER EXHIBITS – Check out the latest in winemaking equipment, gear, ingredients, and supplies from dozens of the hobby’s top vendors.

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Heat and Cold Stability – General Winemaking

Bottled wine can be negatively impacted by temperatures that are too cold and too warm. But as a winemaker you can use different techniques to minimize the results of temperature. Learn the proper steps to safeguard your wine using both chill proofing and heat stabilization. Find out the right techniques and tips to safely get the most out of stabilization to protect your wine so it can be the best it can be from local wine test laboratory enologist Jess Trapeni.

Jess Trapeni
COO & Enologist, Imbibe Solutions

Carbonic Maceration – Advanced Winemaking Carbonic maceration is a French technique made famous in the Beaujolais region for producing their nouveau-style wines, but many other winemakers are now using it around the world to produce very fruity wines with lower tannins. Whole clusters of grapes are placed in a sealed tank purged with carbon dioxide gas and enzymes start to naturally burst the skins for about a week before getting pressed and fermented. Learn how to employ this increasingly popular technique at home as a new winemaking tool with local professional winemaker Stephen Barnard.

Stephen Barnard
Winemaker, Mountain & Vine Vineyards and Winery
President, Monticello Wine Trail

Making Sake at Home – General Winemaking

Add the world of sake to the list of delicious homemade beverages you make at home. You’ll learn you already have most of the equipment on hand from your winemaking and that sake making is not as shrouded in mystery as you might think. Professional sake brewer Andrew Centofante from the North American Sake Brewery will walk you through all the steps you need to know from sourcing and preparing the rice, introducing koji spores, fermentation, pressing, filtering, and bottling. Kanpai!

Andrew Centofante
Co-Founder and Head Brewer, North American Sake Brewery

12:00 – 1:30 PM

Lunch & Keynote: Monticello AVA’s Winemaking Legacy with Stephen Barnard

The Monticello AVA wine region of Virginia is widely considered by historians as the birthplace of America’s wine industry. Wine lover Thomas Jefferson planted North America’s first commercial vineyard near his Charlottesville home of Monticello in 1774 and there are now over 40 wineries surrounding Charlottesville carrying on his legacy. Learn more about the past, present, and future of this wine region and what makes it a special place to grow grapes and make wine with the President of the Monticello Wine Trail and local winemaker Stephen Barnard.

Stephen Barnard
Winemaker, Mountain & Vine Vineyards and Winery
President, Monticello Wine Trail

1:30 – 2 PM

WINEMAKER EXHIBITSCheck out the latest in winemaking equipment, gear, ingredients, and supplies from the hobby’s top vendors.

2 – 3 PM

Preparing to Bottle – General Winemaking
For some reason bottling is often not treated with the care or importance it deserves. But one mistake or oversight could ruin all your hard work to bring your wine to this point. There are plenty of tasks to do from sulfite levels to stabilization and more. It helps to have a thorough checklist in hand. Learn how to successfully navigate getting your baby safely in the bottle with Dr. Richard Sportsman who runs his own small winery in addition to his winery lab equipment company Vinmetrica.

J. Richard Sportsman, Ph.D.
President, Vinmetrica
President and Winemaker, Little Oaks Winery

YAN & Yeast Health – Advanced Winemaking 
Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen (YAN) is a measurement of both organic and inorganic nitrogen within your must to help determine the amount of nutrients your yeast will need. Keeping your yeast healthy will result in a better fermentation and a better wine. YAN and yeast health is an often misunderstood and overlooked aspect for home winemakers who are surprised by a troubled fermentation. Learn more about nitrogen’s role with yeast from the owner of a local wine and craft beverage testing lab, Audrey Skinner.

Audrey Skinner
President & Gastronomical Chemist, Imbibe Solutions

Grape and Non-Grape Co-Ferments – General Winemaking
In the last decade there has been rising interest among professional winemakers and home winemakers in fermenting grapes and other fruits together to create a wholly new hybrid beverage. While this trend is strongest in area where vineyards and orchards both exist, fruit juices can also be used anywhere you might live. But the process isn’t just mixing up some grapes and apples in your fermenter and hoping for the best. Learn the keys to running a successful co-fermentation and decisions you need to make ahead of time to be more successful. Local winemaker and cidermaker Patrick Collins will share his personal experiences and tips making grape and non-grape co-fermented beverages.

Patrick Collins
Co-Founder, Patrois Ciders & Wines

3 – 3:30 PM

WINEMAKER EXHIBITS – Check out the latest in winemaking equipment, gear, ingredients, and supplies from dozens of the hobby’s top vendors.

3:30 – 4:30 PM

Acid & pH – General Winemaking
Acid and pH are two intertwined keys to better wines. The more you know about the important impact of pH and acidity on the quality of the finished wine in your glass and their relationship to each other, the better a winemaker you can be when faced with decisions. Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate, so you need to know how to tweak the numbers to produce the best wine. Learn when and how to test and measure acid and pH, and then the techniques best suited to raise or lower your numbers.

Bob Peak
Technical Editor and “Techniques” Columnist, WineMaker Magazine

Advanced Winemaking Q&A – Advanced Winemaking
Home winemakers have lots of questions and many can get quite technical with so much science involved in winemaking. Here’s your chance to get as geeky as you want and ask our expert WineMaker Columnist and professional winemaker Chik Brenneman your most puzzling questions. And in addition to getting your own answers you’ll also learn from hearing answers to your fellow attendee questions in this session geared towards experienced home winemakers.

Chik Brenneman
Winemaker, Baker Family Wines

“Varietal Focus” Columnist, WineMaker Magazine

– Kit Winemaking
Even good wine kits can take a bad turn. Off colors, bad odors, and stuck fermentations are just a few potential troubles. Learn how to fix common mistakes made during your kit winemaking from Marc and Matthew Nordemann-Keller, who help hundreds of customers make wines from kits at their U-Vint retail store.

Marc Nordemann-Keller
Matthew Nordemann-Keller
Co-Owners of Corks Winery Brampton, Inc.

6:30 – 9:30 PM


Pack up some of your favorite homemade wines for the conference because here’s a great chance to share wines and ideas with fellow hobbyists from across North America. Bring a bottle of your own wine to pour with fellow attendees and try someone else’s wine at our wine sharing area. Plus, local Virginia commercial wineries rom the Monticello AVA will be pouring samples of their wines. Add a buffet highlighting local foods and it is the perfect opportunity to get to know the region’s wine scene and spend time talking wine with speakers, local winemakers, and fellow home winemakers.