News Release 08-124-D
Vineyard breaks ground at May 20 ceremonies
News Release 08-124-D For more information:
Release date: 05/14/09 Bentley Gilbert
For immediate release (541) 440-7747
Winchester -- Umpqua Community College and its Southern Oregon Wine Institute will take major steps Wednesday, May 20, in the development of its teaching winery and vineyard.
Ground will be broken and the first grape vines will be planted in its five-acre vineyard on that day. Viticulture classes, leading to a community college certificate and the first year of the two-year degree program, have been underway since the fall of 2008 and currently with more than 40 students.
Also at 5 p.m. on May 20, architectural drawings will be unveiled for the teaching winery that will be built on that spot.
“This is the day we’ve all been waiting for,” said UCC President Blaine Nisson. “We will be planting our first vines in our own vineyard and, with an eye to the future, see what the winery building will look like once it’s completed.
“The Umpqua and southern Oregon wine industry have led and supported this effort from the very start,” he said. “We at the College have availed ourselves of their imagination, their expertise and experience and their drive. The College can truly begin to give back to this economy by working our own fields and producing our own wine.”
Beginning at 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 20, and running throughout most of the day, both high school students interested in careers in vineyard production and agriculture, and current members of UCC’s viticulture class will plant vines of Nebbiolo and Syrah grapes. In all, some 400 plants will be put into the ground beginning that day and continuing throughout the month.
At 4 p.m. in the College Boardroom, the architects from Fletcher Farr Ayotte, a full-service design firm with an important focus in higher education, and Laurence Ferar and Associates, winery design experts and landscape architects, will lead a multi-media news conference revealing the design for the winery at the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at UCC and the process by which the design was achieved.
At 5 p.m., on the hill upon which the winery will sit surrounded by the ground that this day becomes the vineyard, the architects will unveil the plans for the winery to a number of dignitaries, SOWI stakeholders, wine industry members, friends and supporters.
Also at that time, “golden” shovels will be used to break ground for the vineyard. Breaking ground will be Helga Conrad, UCC Board chair; Scott Henry, owner of Henry’s Estate Winery and leader in the establishment of SOWI; Mark Raymond, publisher of the News-Review newspaper and vice chair of the College’s Foundation board; Blaine Nisson, president of the College, and Chris Lake, viticulture instructor and SOWI director.
The Nebbiolo, the noble grape of Italy grown in the Piedmont region, will introduce a challenging and seldom-used grape to the Umpqua. Syrah produces a fine red wine that grows well in this region.
Its location and design will make it one of the finest one of the finest teaching and learning wineries and vineyards in the country. The winery’s proximity to its vineyard and with the entire center on the same campus with the rest of the College with access to the science department and its laboratories, the library, the culinary arts program, other academic departments and even parking make it an ideal setting for students to learn and for the public to use.
Public facilities will include an incubator for individuals to begin their own winery, with help on how to find financing and developing business plans and marketing plans from UCC’s business department and Small Business Development Center so they are ready to launch a winery two or three years out.
“This is a strong economic development arm of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute,” said President Nisson.
The flexibility of the building will also make large-to-small spaces available for wine-tasting and other public events.
Also, the industry is interested in a testing laboratory located on the Roseburg campus.
Among the high school students planting vines on the 20th will be a number from Roseburg’s Phoenix School who will arrive at 9 a.m. and start on a row they will tend throughout the year. The following week, on the 29th, teacher Wes Crawford’s agriculture students from Sutherlin High school will work in the vineyard from 8:30 to 11 a.m.
For instructor Chris Lake’s UCC viticulture students, the 20th is a make-up lab. Throughout this past year, the viticulture classes, which, in part, have been held online, have always required labs on several Saturdays in the vineyard of industry supporters or in the College science building. This is the first day UCC students will be working in their own vineyard.
“Our curriculum is ‘end-product’ focused,” said Lake, a former vineyard manager as well as published academic. “Working the field and producing a bottle of wine is fundamental to the education we are offering our students. What’s more, I emphasize actually selling that wine they produce. To that end, we are adding a sales and marketing concentration to our syllabus.”
The Southern Oregon Wine Institute at UCC began about five years ago when the industry came to the College to develop an educational component that would take local industry to the next step. Since then, financial help has come from the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians, from the Douglas County Commissioners, from several individuals who’ve also offered equipment, the College’s faculty, staff and administration, its Board and its Foundation board, and the winery associations of the Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate valleys and individual wine makers.
“This is a big step for our school, for the wine industry,” said Nisson, “for community college education, and for the economic development of our region and the state as a whole. It’s significant that we are taking this step in the midst of the greatest economic decline since the ‘30s. It shows that the people of southern Oregon are looking toward the future and taking that into their own hands.”