Every state in the union is now producing wine at some commercial level, including Wisconsin.
To aid that state's winemakers, the University of Wisconsin-Madison plans to hire an outreach specialist for the wine and hard apple cider industry, according to a news release.
The position is being funded by a specialty crop block grand through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.
Wisconsin has about 110 wineries, with about a dozen being added every year.
The idea for an outreach specialist came from winery owner Ryan Prellwitz and George Scovronski, recent past president of the Wisconsin Vintners Association.
Prellwitz hired a private winemaker consultant when he wanted to transition from home hobby to commercial winemaker. He is the founder o Vines and Rushes Winery in Ripon, Wis. But he says not everybody has the luxury of hiring a consultant.
“We were asking ourselves, ‘How do we take the next step?’ How do we help winemakers improve their protocols and processes, resulting in a better end product?” Prellwitz said in the release. “We came to the conclusion that what we really need is somebody who reaches out to wineries, who can work with them on an individual, per-problem basis, as well as on a continuing education basis.”
The specialist will help wineries and cider company owners with microbial issues, cleaning and sanitation issues, protocol and equipment issues. The person also train winemakers to detect off-flavors and to address underlying causes.
In addition, the project will give the industry access to the university's labs and experts.
Industry leaders say they hope to have the specialist in place by January 2015.