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03.05.2010  
 

Viticulture/Wine Courses in East

New York and Pennsylvania support growing wine industry with education

 
by Linda Jones McKee
 
 
Finger Lakes Community College Viticulture 2010
 
Bobbie Totman (left) and Gina Lee Palermo, students in the new viticulture and wine technology program at Finger Lakes Community College, worked at the college's booth during Viticulture 2010 in Rochester, N.Y. in February.
 
Harrisburg, Penn. -- The past 10 years have seen tremendous growth in the number of wineries in many states. There are now nearly 300 wineries in New York, twice the number that existed in 2000. The number of Pennsylvania wineries has nearly tripled during that period, from 54 in 2000, to 140 in 2010. This expansion has created new jobs, but in the East until recently there have been few places for potential vineyard and winery employees to get the essential training for those jobs. That situation is improving, with two community colleges, one in New York and one in Pennsylvania, now launching programs that will prepare these individuals either to continue their education or to get jobs in the industry.

Finger Lakes Community College

Located in Canandaigua, N.Y., Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) now has a certified two-year program that will lead to an applied science associate degree in viticulture and wine technology. The final step in the two-year process of developing and certifying this program took place in November 2009, when the New York Education Department approved the viticulture and wine technology program.

As part of the process of creating the program, Finger Lakes Community College consulted with regional wineries to determine the types of skills and knowledge that they as potential employers wanted in their workers. According to Jana Lamboy, assistant professor of ornamental horticulture and lead viticulture faculty member, “The people who owned the wineries and vineyards wanted us to create a two-year degree program that would serve their needs, so they would have employees who were well-rounded.” In addition to vocational training, employers said they were looking for individuals who have knowledge of chemistry and botany, are well spoken and have practical skills such as occupational Spanish and the ability to use a computer.

Students who successfully meet the program’s requirements will have the option of transferring to Cornell University’s viticulture and enology program or seeking employment in the wine industry. In September 2009, 25 students ranging in age from 17 to 70 took the program’s first class, Introduction to Wines and Vines. The first graduates of the program will finish in May 2011.

Students will both take courses and participate in internships, with the goal of developing the skills and knowledge to:

• Identify grape varieties and understand the history and cultural geography of grapevines and winemaking;
• Discuss and market cool-climate wines, in particular New York wines, to wine tasting room patrons;
• Understand the science of making wine, including the appropriate microbiology principles and sanitation requirements;
• Manage a vineyard and conduct seasonal operations of pruning, disease and pest control, canopy management and crop regulation;
• Develop plans for fertilization, irrigation and pest management with the least environmental impact;
• Evaluate potential sites for vineyard development through soil and environmental analysis;
• Prepare reports to track ripening data, pesticide application, fertilizer requirements and canopy management measures.

For more information about the FLCC program, phone FLCC at (585) 394-3500, ext. 7257.

Harrisburg Area Community College

On March 3, the Board of Trustees of Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) in Harrisburg, Penn., approved the addition of enology and viticulture programs to the college’s curriculum beginning in September 2010. Classes will include both online instruction and a “blended format,” a combination of online instruction and one or two weekend “camps” at regional vineyards and wineries for hands-on experience. Industry internships will also be available.

The two programs were designed to meet various educational needs: winery owners wanting to learn the latest industry techniques or to provide better training for their staff; entrepreneurs interested in viticulture or in establishing a winery; people who want to change careers to enology or viticulture, or hobbyists interested in winegrape growing or the process of winemaking.

There are three options of study in both the viticulture and the enology programs. In viticulture, the certificate in viticulture (33 credits) is a two-year program of classes in vineyard soils, vineyard establishment, spring and summer vineyard operations, fundamentals of enology, vineyard business management, vineyard equipment and integrated pest management for grapes, as well as a fall vineyard internship.

The associate degree in applied sciences (68 credits) in the viticulture program includes the coursework for the certificate and adds general education courses and program electives in enology and small business practices. A third option allows students to select viticulture courses that will meet their specific needs.

The certificate in enology (31 credits) is also a two-year program and includes classes in the fundamentals of enology, wine chemistry and microbiology, advanced winemaking, winery sanitation, sensory evaluation, clarification and packaging, winery regulation and compliance and other related courses such as the World of Wine and General Viticulture. A harvest wine field experience and a winery internship will also be available.

The associate degree in applied science (62 credits) in the enology program builds on the coursework of the certificate and adds general education classes and program electives including winery design and start-up, small business development and management, principles of marketing, advertising and several viticulture electives. The enology program also includes a select-a-course option similar to that offered in the viticulture track.

Both the viticulture and the enology programs are offered at HACC’s Harrisburg campu s. HACC is now recruiting adjunct faculty to teach some of the courses in the viticulture and enology programs. Robert Green, a commercial winemaker and winery consultant in Pennsylvania for more than 20 years, is the director of HACC’s enology and viticulture programs. For more information about the program or about teaching opportunities, phone Bob Green at (814) 860-1452 or e-mail at ragreen@hacc.edu.
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