To help address these issues, the Canadian wine industry will soon have its first research facility devoted to the study of cool-climate enology and viticulture. On June 11, Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, will open a wine research and teaching center, with the goal of producing the first Canadian winemakers to learn their craft in Canada.
The new facility, which cost $4.1 million (U.S.), will support the university's recently established Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute. The building will encompass a small working winery, a fermentation lab, other research and teaching facilities and a climate-controlled wine cellar. Students and researchers will use the winery to produce small quantities of experimental wines.
"In the past we have had to search the world to find winemakers and top viticultural specialists," said Anthony von Mandl, proprietor of Mission Hill Winery in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, which donated more than $68,000 to the project. "Now we will teach and develop the unique expertise in Canada that is necessary to make great wines and secure the long-term future development of Okanagan Valley wines."
In recognition of von Mandl's contribution, the pilot winery has been named after Mission Hill. The entire science building is called Inniskillin Hall in honor of the project's largest corporate donor, Vincor Inc., owner of Inniskillin Wines on the Niagara Peninsula. Vincor contributed more than $411,000.
Brock University began its enology and viticulture program -- Canada's first -- in the 1997-98 academic year. The four-year degree focuses on cool-climate growing regions and the techniques needed to make successful wines in these areas. The first class, comprised of students who transferred into the program from other schools, will graduate in 2000.
"This is just beginning for us," said Bill Cade, dean of the faculty of science at Brock University. This fall, the first two years of the program will also be offered to undergraduate students in western Canada at Okanagan University College in Penticton, B.C. Cade added, "We're also working with Niagara College, near the wineries in Niagara, to put in a 5-acre teaching vineyard to be used by students and faculty."
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