Those interested in starting their own grape-growing operation are invited to attend a meeting slated for 7 p.m. today at the Northeast Vocational Technical Center in Afton.

With sufficient interest, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College will offer a grape-growing program in the future, campus officials confirmed. The public is invited to attend the free, informational meeting

Stan Fimple, Roy Ball and Jeremiah Butler, county extension office agents from Ottawa, Craig and Delaware counties, respectively, will host the event.

Oklahoma has 34 wineries currently in operation. The managers of one area winery, Summerside Vineyards and Winery in Vinita, will speak at today's event. Marsha and Gary Butler will provide details about their operation and experiences in growing grapes.

The large number of wineries in the region is a testament to the popularity of grape growing, said Roger Fent, chair of the NEO Agriculture Department.

“This is a chance to enhance our Agriculture Department, Fent said. “We want to provide an educational opportunity where there is some demand for it.

If it is established at NEO, the grape-growing program would give students an alternative crop to study, Fent said. The program could also be tied into the study of horticulture and landscape.

A grape-growing program is already under way at Redlands Community College in El Reno. NEO administrators have been in contact with Redlands to examine the possibility of modeling a local program after the Redlands courses.