Wine 101: Valley vineyards, Yavapai College forge partnership

VVWC Gino Romero
Yavapai College science professor Gino Romero, Ph.D., gave members of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium a tour of the college’s science lab facilities on Wednesday, explaining how their current facilities could accommodate a future viticulture and enology lab.

VVWC Gino Romero Yavapai College science professor Gino Romero, Ph.D., gave members of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium a tour of the college’s science lab facilities on Wednesday, explaining how their current facilities could accommodate a future viticulture and enology lab.

The northern reach of the Santa Clara Valley did not become known as Silicon Valley because it had rich deposits of sand or an abundance of plastic surgeons.

It became the worldwide center for high-tech and computer science for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the business community's ties with nearby institutes of higher learning, specifically Stanford University.

It is a successful business model that may one day serve to benefit the Verde Valley in its desire to expand its winemaking industry.

This week, Yavapai College, in partnership with the Verde Valley Wine Consortium, unveiled the first of what the school hopes will be many offerings in the study of viticulture (the study of vines and vineyards) and enology (the study of wine and winemaking),

Believing that to build an industry you must first have an educated workforce, the consortium assigned members to an education committee as one of its first actions.

Headed by local wine educator and restaurateur Paula Woolsey, the committee has spent the last several months developing both a relationship and a class curriculum, both of which have won favor with the college.

Starting in the fall semester 2009, Yavapai College will offer Viticulture 100, 101 and 102.

VIN100 is a class on wine appreciation, VIN101 is a coarse on wines of the United States and VIN102 is on wines of the world.

"The idea is to get a flavor for what the community wants," Woolsey says. "We will be starting with baby steps. It will grow from there."

Woolsey, a member of the Society of Wine Educators, will teach the classes.

Tom Schumacher, executive dean of the Verde Valley Campus, has been actively involved with the VVWC in making viticulture and enology a major part of the school's curriculum.

"As a community college it is our role to respond to the community's needs. The wine industry is growing locally and around the state and with it is an increased demand for educated employees.

"We are working on a proposal to be phased in over a three-year period and would include 32 acres of vines, a science lab dedicated to viticulture and enology along with sustainable infrastructure," Schumacher says.

Schumacher quotes statistics from Washington State that show their wine industry grew from 11,000 employees to 26,000 employees in just five years.

The Verde Valley campus, situated on a 120-acre parcel, is currently exploring at least three possible expansion scenarios, one of which would include expanded vineyards and agricultural facilities.

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