Since arriving at the University of Georgia Department of Horticulture in 2017, viticulture researcher Cain Hickey has helped make UGA Cooperative Extension the go-to source for wine growing expertise in the Southeast.
This year the viticulture specialist will be recognized for his contributions to Georgia’s burgeoning wine industry by the publishers of Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News.
The publishers’ Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40 awards program was launched in 2018 to recognize young growers, Extension professionals, industry leaders and researchers who are contributing to the future of the fruit and vegetable industries. Honorees are nominated by their peers based their early career accomplishments, according to Fruit Growers News.
Hickey was recognized at the Great Lakes Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of the top trade shows for U.S. fruit and vegetable growers.
“It is an honor to be recognized for something that I enjoy doing, which is working with grape growers and conducting viticulture research,” Hickey said. “It is also nice to be recognized alongside so many other highly productive, talented people in the agriculture field.”
Working mainly at test plots at the Durham Horticulture Farm in Watkinsville, Georgia, and in north and west Georgia’s wine-growing counties, Hickey has researched disease-resistant varieties of wine grapes, new trellising systems for Southern climates and cultivation best practices.
Because wine grapes are a fairly new crop for Georgia, very little of this basic cultural research had been conducted. Hickey has established partnerships with new and veteran growers to focus his research efforts.
“In less than three years, Dr. Hickey has been able to spearhead the viticulture program at UGA by bringing innovative ideas to help the Georgia wine industry. His knowledge, engagement and enthusiasm have already allowed him to gain the growers’ trust and cooperation, which are good foundations to continue the partnership between UGA and the Georgia wine producers and an even stronger Georgia wine industry,” said Leo Lombardini, professor and head of the UGA Department of Horticulture.
In addition to his research, Hickey has hosted more than a dozen workshops and field days tailored for experienced growers, would-be wine grape growers and backyard muscadine growers.
“Working with growers is the most enjoyable and fulfilling part of my job,” Hickey said. “Industry stakeholders help keep applied scientists focused on what is important, which, in my case, is optimizing viticulture practices to ensure vineyard and enterprise sustainability.”
For more information about the UGA viticulture program and upcoming workshops and field days, please visit site.extension.uga.edu/viticulture.