WSU’s Viticulture & Enology program to sell student-made wines online

WSU’s Viticulture & Enology program to sell student-made wines online

Blended Learning wines made by Washington State University students in the Viticulture & Enology (V&E) Program are now available to order online for delivery in Washington state.

The Blended Learning label emerged in 2012 during the first year that Thomas Henick-Kling, Director of the V&E program, taught a winemaking class.

Gerow pours wine from a bottle into a large glass test tube.
Gerow testing wine in his Blended Learning class at WSU.

“In this class, we work with students to develop winemaking projects and carry them out with vineyard and winery industry partners.  This process blends hands-on and classroom learning. The students explore various wine types, how they are made, design projects and we select several projects to be carried out each year. Final planning is a collaboration with industry vineyards and wineries and our students,” he said.

For Blended Learning student Andrew Gerow, who was recently named Wine Spectator Wine Science Student of the Year, he said studying the science of wine was something that happened rather serendipitously.

“I have always loved science and art, and wine-making is a perfect combination of the two,” he said.

Hands-on learning

The Blended Learning class is taught by V&E faculty Henick-Kling and Tom Collins. The hands-on lab involves tasting wine, blending wine, discussing grape varieties, and collaborating as a class to develop various projects for the subsequent fall harvest.

The process begins with conceiving a project, soliciting grape donations, and making the wine. Students are then tasked with marketing their wine creation, crafting labels, and finding out how to get their product into the market.

A young man stands near a vat full of wine grapes.
Gerow pressing grapes for a Riesling ripeness trial.

Online wine sales are an ideal platform for students to get their name out to the wine community.

“It’s not just a place for us to sell the wine, it also acts as a platform for us to present our projects to the consumer,” Gerow said. “People will have a better understanding of our product and our story.”

Online sales help promote program

Proceeds from the online wine sales support the V&E program.

“This  program is important, because Washington is one of the top wine industries in the United States,” said Sandy Saffell, a 1967 WSU alumna and program supporter. “We have fabulous wines, and we need the world to know about it.”

Saffell is on the board of the Yakima Enological Society, and has participated in several WSU wine events.

“I always serve Cougar Gold cheese and Blended Learning wines,” she said.

Although Saffell can drive to the Tri-Cities and pick up the wine, ordering online would be much more convenient.

“I’m hoping this will open the opportunity for people to learn more about Washington state wines, especially from our students,” she said.

Concerning the future, Henick-Kling said he looks forward to seeing the program grow to include more students and more research activity.

“The quality of our wines is already so high, when you compare it to wine from nearly anywhere in the world,” he said. “Our wines are flavor intense, diverse, and very good value for the price.”

Where to find Blended Learning wines

Wines purchased online can be shipped anywhere in the state of Washington. The program is working on adding out-of-state shipping options in the future, gift sets for the holidays, and to expand retail presence.

Blended Learning wines can be purchased at several locations in Washington: the Brelsford WSU Visitor Center in Pullman, Compass Wines in Anacortes, and the WSU Wine Science Center in Richland.

This research was funded by Washington State University, Auction of Washington Wines, and all of Washington’s wine grape growers and wineries in partnership with the Washington State Wine Commission.