There are numerous culinary schools in the United States, but precious few schools devoted to the science and art of winemaking.
The two most prominent are in California – at U.C. Davis and Cal State Fresno – which means that anyone living in the East must be willing to relocate in order to take advantage of those degree programs.
That situation is beginning to change, however, thanks to a new partnership between Niagara County Community College in New York and the nearby Freedom Run Winery.
Freedom Run already had donated an acre of land to the school so its students could plant 300 grapevines, equally divided between Chardonnay and Merlot. Now, the winery will be actively involved in schooling future winemakers, enabling the college to offer a two-year degree program that is 20 percent bookwork and 80 percent hands-on experience.
The partnership is part of the development of the Niagara Falls Culinary and Hospitality Institute in downtown Niagara Falls. Ultimately, it’s envisioned that wine will be produced by the school’s students under the Culinary Institute’s name, and will help promote tourism throughout the Niagara winegrowing region.
“There’s a real need in Niagara County for anyone with winemaking experience,” Freedom Run cellarmaster Kurt Guba told the Niagara Gazette. “It’s exciting to think you can study at a local college and get a job – a career – locally.”