WSU offers new winery operations course, wine science capstone

By Dennis Farrell, Student Writer

Beginning spring 2017, the Washington State University Viticulture & Enology program will offer two new undergraduate courses: a winery operations post-fermentation course and a viticulture and enology capstone course.

The winery operations course will cover each phase of wine production, from fruit processing to bottling. Dr. Tom Collins, WSU assistant professor of wine chemistry and course developer, said the course will replace the current wine production course, which offers an overview of field and winery practices leading up to fermentation.

The new post-fermentation class will give students a better understanding of winery practices, which they previously learned only through external winery internships.

“The course, which is recommended for senior undergraduate students, covers barrel operations and chemistry, winery sanitation, filtration, preparing wines for bottling and bottling,” Collins said. “The goal is to help students get more out of their internships because they’ll have had some exposure to these things.”

The new viticulture and enology capstone course, known as VE 433, will explore all areas of viticulture and enology, whereas the former capstone course focused mainly on horticulture.

“VE 433 is specific to vineyards and wineries and has the involvement of the industry,” said Joan Davenport, professor and soil scientist at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center.

Davenport developed the capstone course with research associates Jason Stout and Catherine Jones. Davenport and Collins will both teach the course beginning this spring.

The capstone course requires students to develop a vineyard management plan and a winery management plan. As they develop these plans, students will work together and use their knowledge of viticulture and enology to write recommendations for addressing dilemmas in the wine industry. By working through real-world scenarios, students gain experience in evaluating a winery for functionality, identifying and solving viticulture management problems and understanding the moving parts of managing both vineyards and wineries.

“Both courses aim to engage students in real-life situations that prepare them for a future in the industry,” Collins said.