UACES Facebook Arkansas Association of Grape Growers to hold conference
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Arkansas Association of Grape Growers to hold conference

By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Oct. 6, 2017 

Fast Facts:

  • Study: Arkansas wine industry generates about $600 million in economic activity.
  • Arkansas Association of Grape Growers holds annual conference Nov. 3.
  • AAGG to honor will honor vintner Robert Cowie.
  • Speakers include fruit breeder John Clark, horticulture specialist Amanda McWhirt 

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OZARK, Ark. – Wine can have a big impact on the taste of a meal—the right wine can either make or break the flavors of what’s plated. Wine also has a major impact on the Arkansas economy. 

Blackberry Workshop & Field Day

According to WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, the wine industry generated about $600 million in economic activity and created more than 5,000 jobs in Arkansas in 2017. Nationally, the industry contributed $219.9 billion to the economy and created more than one million jobs.

And the industry is growing in Arkansas. 

“We’ve doubled the number of wineries in the last 10 years,” said Renee Threlfall, research scientist at the University of Arkansas Institute of Food Science and Engineering and Arkansas Association of Grape Growers board member. 

On Nov. 3, the Arkansas Association of Grape Growers will hold its annual conference to bring Arkansas grape producers and those who are interested in the field together to discuss the latest in the growing industry. 

Attendees will hear from a variety of experts in the field of wine and grape growing discussing everything from business promotion to vineyard cover crops. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture distinguished professor of horticulture and fruit breeder John Clark will introduce the new table grape, Passion. Amanda McWhirt, extension horticulture specialist, will discuss vineyard site selection and maintenance. 

“Attendees are going to learn about growing grapes in Arkansas and network with other grape growers,” Threlfall said. 

The conference will be held at Arkansas Tech University in Ozark, Arkansas, from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. 

After the conference, there will be a wine reception and banquet at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Altus, Arkansas. 

At the banquet, AAGG will give the 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award to Robert Cowie, of Paris, vintner and CEO of Cowie Wine Cellars and Vineyards for his contributions to the viticulture and enology industry in Arkansas. 

“We select award winners that have played a critical role in shaping Arkansas as a grape and wine producing state,” Threlfall said.

AAGG will also award this year’s scholarship recipients—Molly Felts, from the University of Arkansas, and Mary Burkes, from Arkansas Tech University—Ozark. 

To register for the conference visit To learn more about the University System Division of Agriculture, visit


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.   

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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