The American Society of Viticulture and Enology (ASEV) held their 66th national conference in Portland, Oregon on June 15-18. As in the past, I attended this year’s conference as a representative of the Lodi Winegrape Commission and Lodi’s 750 growers. While there I had the opportunity to learn about Dr. Matthew Fidelibus‘ use of social media, especially Facebook, as a tool for communicating with growers. In this Coffee Shop post, I’ll give a brief intro to ASEV, share Matthew’s case for why social media has a place in extension, and then introduce the Commission’s new Lodi Winegrowers Facebook page.
You may ask, why is the Commission a member of ASEV and why attend the conference? Simply put, our grower education programs are, and always have been, based in good science. ASEV plays an important role in advancing our scientific knowledge about grape growing and wine making. Many of the leading scientists doing work in viticulture and enology present their work at the conference and/or publish articles in the society’s journal: American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV) The Commission relies on such research when developing grower outreach efforts such as breakfast meetings, Coffee Shop articles, Lodi Grower Newsletters, and the new Lodi Winegroers Facebook page. To give a specific example, the Grape Pest Management series of breakfast meetings (read more about the program and it’s effectiveness here HERE) would not be possible without field and lab research conducted by UCCE farm advisers and specialists. Attending ASEV allows the Commission to become familiar with studies that are relevant to Lodi winegrowing and to build alliances with scientists interested in doing research that benefits Lodi.
ASEV is a professional society of enologists, viticulturists, and others working in the field of wine and grape research and production. Membership includes scientists from academic institutions and vineyard and winery professionals. According the ASEV website, the society was formed in 1950 and was originally composed of researchers from the University of California and California winemakers. There are currently 2200 members and 100 Industrial Affiliates (companies). ASEV provides its members and the industry at large with four services:
- Annual online subscription to the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV), including online access to full AJEV archives beginning 1950
- ASEV National Conference, with technical sessions, research forums, symposia and industry seminars annually in June
- Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, presented by the ASEV and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) is held annually in January
- Scholarship program for students studying enology, viticulture or a directly related field offered to eligible students through
UCCE’s Matthew Fidelibus Recognized for Using Social Media in Grower Outreach
ASEV annually recognizes an extension educator for their outstanding work and leadership with communicating research to the industry and making novel tools available to practitioners. This year’s ASEV Extension Distinction Award recipient was Dr. Matthew Fidelibus. Matthew is a UCCE specialist at the Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Parlier, CA. According to his UCCE webpage, his “laboratory conducts applied and basic research on grapes for raisin, table, and wine. Our broad goals are to develop or refine cultural practices that: reduce production cost, improve yields and quality, or all of these.” Matthew was recognized with the ASEV extension award because of his savvy use of social media as a means for communicating viticultural information to growers locally and across the state.
In his lecture, Matthew lauded traditional extension methods. Field days, breakfast meetings, university publications, newsletters, and direct interaction via telephone, email, or field visits are all tried and true ways for UCCE to extend valuable information through the local grower communities. However, as he pointed out, the challenge is how to engage a greater number of growers while using fewer resources. According to Matthew, attendance at his field meetings is good but not growing and the same folks show up to every meeting. He argued that growers are becoming more and more comfortable with social media and it has proven to be a powerful communication tool within agriculture. Matthew has had convincing success using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook Matthew to connect with more and different growers and introduce them to a diversity of information that they may otherwise not have been exposed to. Nearly 1,500 people follow his Twitter feed @grapetweets and about 750 people like his Facebook page San Joaquin Valley Viticulture.
In case you are interested in talking a look at Matthew’s online resources, here is a list:
Lodi Winegrowers is now on Facebook
After attending ASEV and learning about Matthew Fidelibus’ successes with Facebook as a grower education tool, I decided it was time I do the same here in Lodi. I am pleased to share that the Commission has added the Lodi Winegrowers Facebook page to our suite of online resources. The Lodi winegrowing community has been very receptive to other such resources including the website lodigrowers.com, the Coffee Shop research and practice blog, and our Twitter feed @LodiGrower. Adding Facebook to this list will give growers yet another opportunity to access the information they need. I hope you find this resource useful and I am open to suggestions for making it better.