Responding to the fact that more and more vineyards are popping up in Washington, Walla Walla Community College -- in the state's trendy Walla Walla appellation -- is creating a new wine program to teach students the art of viticulture. Classes will start on March 27.
Myles Anderson, psychology instructor and co-owner of Walla Walla Vintners, will run the school's Wine Institute, which will teach everything about the science of grapegrowing and winemaking in the dry climate of eastern Washington. "This is a hands-on program," Anderson said. "The classrooms are in wineries and vineyards."
Anderson has already set aside land at his own winery for students to plant and cultivate their own rows of grapes. Two or three other local vineyards are also joining in the program, allowing students to intern with them so they can learn the fermentation process. Students will choose what they want to grow -- the program will include grapes that are common in the Walla Walla appellation, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as varieties that are newer to the area, such as Sangiovese and Syrah.
Winemaking is not yet a full-fledged major at the college, and students can't yet get a degree in it there. But the college may change that in the future if the market for Washington wine continues to boom. In the meantime, Anderson said, the Wine Institute will structure the program in such a way that students can easily move to Washington State University for a degree in enology.
Anderson hopes to enlist the help of the Walla Walla community to start a summer wine festival where students can offer their wines to the public. After all, he said, "If there is going to be a Napa-like valley in Washington eventually, it will be here."
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