Our growing, innovative team is at the root of what makes Virtual Viticulture Academy unique…we are real people here to help you learn to grow better winegrapes.
Founder, Viticulturist & Chief Grape Grower Educator
Fritz Westover is a leading expert in viticulture education. His passion is making viticulture information accessible, informative, and engaging for all winegrape growers. His goal is to help every grower to Be a Better Grape Grower!
Fritz is the founder of Westover Vineyard Advising, Virtual Viticulture Academy, and the Vineyard Underground Podcast. He consults for vineyards in 6 states encompassing 2000+ acres of all varieties of wine grapes, and he provides live virtual advising and online education to growers across 33 states and 8 countries. He is also a leading wine industry speaker and contributor.
He holds a BS in horticulture from Penn State University as well as an MS from the Penn State Department of Plant Pathology. He has been working hands-on in the viticulture industry for over 20 years across the U.S. and internationally.
When he is not thinking of new innovative ways to help grape growers, Fritz can be found mountain biking, trail running, making noise on a cheap guitar, or traveling with his family.
Viticulturist & Assistant Grape Grower Educator
Rachael White-Caton is a viticulturist who loves helping winegrape growers learn how to produce the best grapes possible on their site!
Rachael leads our team in supporting everything our Virtual Viticulture Academy members need from helping growers with their questions to developing new educational content and planning grower courses and events and everything in between.
Rachael holds a BS in horticulture from Virginia Tech and an MS in horticulture from the University of Georgia. She focused on wine grape production and viticulture for both degrees. She has also studied abroad in Cortona, Italy learning old-world wine traditions.
Before joining the Westover Vineyard Advising team, Rachael worked producing red wines in the Marlborough region of New Zealand and managed vineyards in north Georgia and New Jersey.
When she is not answering viticulture questions, Rachael can be found walking up mountains with her dog and husband, tending to her ever-growing collection of house plants, and enjoying a glass of local wine.
Cultivator of Projects & Operations
Melody Crain is not a viticulturist although Fritz jokes that she has an honorary viticulture degree from working with him since 2016. Her business, organizational, and planning skills keep everything running behind the scenes for Westover Vineyard Advising, Virtual Viticulture Academy, and the Vineyard Underground podcast
Melody has a BBA from Belmont University in Nashville, TN with a major in economics. Prior to joining the Westover Vineyard Advising team, Melody worked for Shell Oil Company in various strategy, communications, and project management roles.
When she is not working, Melody can be found watching Friends re-runs, cheering for her daughter’s basketball team, or cuddling with her dog.