Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- March 8, 2004
Cal Poly Launches Wine and Viticulture Degree
The Cal Poly College of Agriculture is offering a new bachelor’s
degree in wine and viticulture, effective spring quarter 2004.
The new wine and viticulture major will focus on blending viticulture,
enology and the business aspects of the wine industry in a degree program
aimed at producing graduates ready to step right into careers in California’s
multibillion-dollar wine industry, said Cal Poly Dean of Agriculture
David Wehner. California is the fourth largest grape producer in the
world after France, Italy and Spain and accounts for 90 percent of America’s
“With the addition of the wine and viticulture major, Cal Poly’s
College of Agriculture is now poised to offer students a unique and
powerful hands-on education in all aspects of the wine industry,”
Wehner said. “This program represents a campus-wide academic alliance
of our polytechnic strengths in the applied sciences, production, food
processing, marketing and business supported by solid industry partnerships,”
California State University Chancellor Charles Reed granted Cal Poly
approval for the program in a Feb. 13 letter to Cal Poly President Warren
J. Baker. Cal Poly added a wine and viticulture minor in 1999 that now
has over 127 graduates. The college has been building program facilities
and planning the curriculum for the wine and viticulture program for
the past six years with support from industry partners.
The college is currently partnering with E&J Gallo on a 152-acre,
state-of-the-art vineyard on Cal Poly lands. It also offers a wine analysis
laboratory certified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Students in the new degree program will have the use of both.
The university’s location in the heart of one of the state’s
premium wine growing areas can only strengthen the advantage it offers
students and industry, added Wehner.
The university is surrounded by California’s Central Coast wine
country, which has gained increasing notice since the 1990s as one of
the nation’s emerging premium wine-grape-growing regions. The
Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Santa Maria and Santa
Ynez Valley wine regions are within easy reach of students and instructors.
“The diversity of climate regions on the Central Coast makes it
an ideal area for producing a broad range of varieties, from heat-loving
zinfandel to cool-climate pinot noir,” said Cal Poly Agribusiness
Professor Phil Doub.
Students in the new degree program will have the advantage of being
able to do senior projects, internships and fieldwork at area wineries
and vineyards. The experience will enhance the learning process for
students and provide local wineries with an educated labor pool, said
Cal Poly Viticulture Professor Keith Patterson.
“Our curriculum requires a mandatory industry internship. That’s
one thing that will really set our program apart,” Patterson stressed.
“All of our students will work through summer and spend one quarter
working through the crush and harvest to gain actual experience. That’s
one of the great things Cal Poly offers – that learn-by-doing
tradition is still in operation here.”
With the addition of the new degree, Cal Poly joins UC Davis and Fresno
State University in offering viticulture and enology programs. Both
universities have well-respected programs, Wehner noted, adding that
Cal Poly already has a formal partnership with UC Davis in graduate
agricultural education programs.
The unique focus of the Cal Poly wine and viticulture degree will be
the blending of practical hands-on experience in the vineyards with
both enology science and business and marketing courses, College of
Agriculture officials explained.
“By the time they graduate from Cal Poly,” Patterson explained,
“students interested in going into enology will also know how
to market and sell wine, and students interested in the business side
of the wine industry and wine marketing will know how to grow grapes
and make wine.”
For more information on the degree program, visit the College of Agriculture
web site at: http://calpolyag.com/.
Contact: Mary Pedersen, Associate Dean, College of
Agriculture, (805) 756-2161