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Five youth programs in viticulture

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Access counts. That’s why wineries are developing innovative partnerships with youth programs across the country. These initiatives introduce young people to the vine and, potentially, to future careers in viticulture, agronomy and agrotourism.

Michigan

The Michigan Wine Collaborative has partnered with youth 4-H clubs and an urban vineyard and farm in Detroit to introduce kids to viticulture. For those who can’t travel to rural sites, Pingree Farms and Detroit Vineyards offer hands-on experiences.

As they finalize the program and launch the MWC Talent Pipeline, the partners hope it will be a model of access and inclusion for young people outside of traditional wine regions nationwide.

California

The Santa Rosa High School Agricultural Program has a 25-year partnership with Jackson Family Wines.

“Not only does the Jackson family help the school run the vineyard, but we’re also committed to buying the fruit at fair market value,” says program teacher Lisa Piehl.

The program’s farm-to-table course takes students right through to fermentation and focuses on business skills. Many graduates work in the wine industry.

Students in the Yamhill Carlton High School viticulture program. / Photo courtesy of: Ken Wright Cellars

Oregon

In the Willamette Valley, Yamhill Carlton High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter plants and tends its own vineyard, practicing everything from pruning and harvesting to soil testing to designing wine labels. bottles.

The group has worked with Ken Wright Cellars since 2014. The winery uses the fruit to produce, typically, around 120 cases of pinot noir and rosé a year. Alumni, many in the industry, handle fundraising sales.

Texas

Mason High School, north of Fredericksburg in wine country, is the first in the state to offer a viticulture program, prompted by Dan McLaughlin of Robert Clay Vineyards. Since 2015, Mason students have been studying the history and science of healthy viticulture, planning a vineyard, and harvesting by hand.

A comprehensive program is being developed for the state.

Virginia

The New Ag School (NAS) is a nonprofit, community-based effort to guide young people into areas that boost the region’s economy, such as wineries, breweries, and agritourism. Founded and led by Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars, NAS offers career mentorship and a six-week “Think Outside” program for high school students with hands-on learning and transferable job skills.

While the vineyard draws in, program coordinator Jenna Moon touts the diversity of activities.

“It really worked,” she says. “You see children coming out of their shells. We have seen leaders emerge.

Posted on February 17, 2022