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Press Releases

February 22, 2024
VVA Honors Viticulturist Tremain Hatch as Grower of the Year
Contact: Michael Wallace

The Virginia Vineyards Association on Wednesday honored Tremain Hatch, a respected viticulturist, educator and researcher, as its Grower of the Year. The award recognizes Mr. Hatch’s work to advance the Commonwealth’s wine grape industry as both viticulture research and extension associate at Virginia Tech and viticulturist at his family’s Zephaniah Farm Vineyard.

“Congratulations to Tremain Hatch on being named the Virginia Vineyards Association’s Grower of the Year,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr, who presented the award at the VVA’s annual Winter Technical Meeting. “He has been involved in the industry since he was a teenager and has become one of the most respected viticulturists in the state. His determination and drive have helped Virginia’s wine industry to thrive and become a tremendous economic driver for the Commonwealth.”

“Tremain has not only worked at and managed his family’s vineyard at Zephaniah for more than a decade, but he is a reliable resource for so many of us who work in the vineyard,” said AJ Greely, president of the VVA. “From his work at Virginia Tech to his participation as a member of the Sentinel data collection and analysis project to the assistance he provides the VVA at each of our technical meetings, Tremain has put his stamp on the Virginia viticulture industry.

“We’ve all come to know his smile and his engaging way,” she added. “Not only is he a standout for his work at Zephaniah but having him in our industry is a benefit for all of us. He is more than deserving of this award.”

Dr. Tony Wolf, a renowned viticulturist at Virginia Tech who was a driving force in the Virginia wine industry for over 35 years, recalled hiring Tremain twice: once as a field and lab assistant prior to his acceptance in the graduate program at Tech, and again as a viticulture research and extension associate after he completed the master’s program.

“Tremain has the perfect combination of excellent work ethic, viticultural knowledge, and personal demeanor that makes him an excellent extension educator,” Dr. Wolf said. “Tremain knows how to grow high-quality grapes, and he is more than willing to share that knowledge with others. He is entirely deserving of the prestigious Grower of the Year Award.”

Dr. Mizuho Nita, who heads the Grape Pathology Department where Mr. Hatch works, said, “I've known Tremain since I joined Virginia Tech in 2009, and his expertise in viticulture and vineyard operations has been incredibly helpful in many extension-related projects,” including evaluations of protective materials for vines.

Last year, Dr. Nita said, Mr. Hatch accompanied him on a trip to Japan where they held seminars, workshops, a Virginia wine-tasting session and a dozen in-field consultations. “We had the opportunity to interact with over 200 growers in three weeks,” he said. “As a result, Tremain is now a well-known viticulturist in Japan, too.”

In 2002, Mr. Hatch was a senior in high school when he helped plant the first acre of vines on his family’s 400-acre farm in Loudoun County. Zephaniah’s vineyard has since grown to 10 acres with 18 grape varieties, and Mr. Hatch continues to participate as consulting winemaker and viticulturist. More recently, he has also begun consulting for several area vineyards.

Mr. Hatch earned a master’s degree at Virginia Tech in 2010. His master’s research dealt with assessing the response of Cabernet Sauvignon to various means of restricting vegetative development and included an assessment of the impact of those practices on wine quality.

That year, he also became a viticulture extension associate at Virginia Tech’s Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Winchester, where his responsibilities have included vineyard troubleshooting, site evaluation, and responding to requests from growers and aspiring growers for viticultural assistance. Currently, his research focuses on evaluating protective culture in vineyards and seedless table grape evaluations.

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he spent seven months working at Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville, where he said he learned to appreciate the work required to sustain a large wine operation producing high-quality wines. He also gained viticulture experience working in Marlborough, New Zealand, in 2009, and in Alto Adige, Italy, in 2006.

He lives in Winchester with his wife, Gretchen, and his two children.

Starting in 2005, the VVA has been pleased to honor one of its members with the annual Grower of the Year Award. Recipients are active participants in the Virginia viticulture community with a track record of commitment and service to the industry.

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