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Starting My Own Vineyard/winery


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#1 JSCayman

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 12:07 PM

So I have decided that within the next 5 years I want to jump ship, buy a small vineyard and make my own wine.

I am not looking to do something on a mass scale, just enough to self sustain with a little profit to throw in the bank for retirement and maintenance.

I have no Enology or Viticulture experience, but I would like to learn about it so I will have a proper understanding of what to do and how to manage my vineyard.

Here's the problem... I looked on the website at a couple schools (UC Davis and Fresno) they are WAY too expensive for me.

Any advice or tips on what I can do? Or where I can go?

I live in the Cayman Islands so I really don't have access to anything in this field here.

Thanks for your help!

#2 Calamity Cellars

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 12:25 PM

Check out Washington State University's Enology Certificate program.

Alan Holtzheimer


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#3 JSCayman

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 02:11 PM

Thanks Calamity... I checked them out as well and they are still pretty expensive for me.

I am not sure what price range I am really looking for, but if I am going to be leaving the Island to go to school full time I wont have too much $$$ to spare between tuition and paying for room and board and paying my mortgage back here.

Guess I can only keep researching!



#4 Jeff H

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 02:12 PM

You should look at the VESTA program: http://www.vesta-usa.org/. A problem for you is that many of the classes (Intro to Viticulture etc) require a practicum (internship) at a vineyard or winery. The classes are on-line.

Jeff
"Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance." --- Benjamin Franklin
"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." --- Edgar Allan Poe

#5 bigadamsoy

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 02:50 PM

Grayson County College in north Texas offers a 2-year viticulture and enology degree that looks pretty good. It's no UC-Davis, but I imagine you could learn everything you'd need to know to make a living growing wine.
They also have a 2-semester (31-hr) certification program, which might be more appropriate to your needs..
here's a link to their program details:
http://grayson.edu/p..._v&e_header.pdf
cheers!
Adam White

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#6 Fred's Red

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 04:17 PM

Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA also has a two year course. www.hancockcollege.edu Also a thriving wine region both north, south, and east. To the West is the Pacific Ocean of course smile.gif

#7 Calamity Cellars

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 04:21 PM

The nice thing about WSU's program is that it is online. You do have to got to a few weekends at the extension campus but they are as much fun as educational. I am about six months into the program and I can't say enough great things about it.

Alan Holtzheimer


Silver Bell Winery


#8 thebacchus

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 05:22 PM

QUOTE (Jeff H @ Sep 27 2009, 03:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You should look at the VESTA program: http://www.vesta-usa.org/. A problem for you is that many of the classes (Intro to Viticulture etc) require a practicum (internship) at a vineyard or winery. The classes are on-line.

Jeff



I agree with Jeff. I was originally going to take the UC Davis certificate program, but after some input from others that had taken the course, I decided against it.

You can earn an associates in either enology or viticulture through Vesta.

I am currently enrolled in the Vesta program. The courses are completly online with the exception of the practicums. If you are able to travel however, you could take 1 trip per semester and satisfy your practicum. (and learn a lot!)

The instructors are industry professionals, and there are students in the online classes from around the globe. Most of the study is online through the blackboard software, with an online one hour synchronous (like a real classroom setting) each week. I am very happy with the program so far.

The folks at Vesta are really good at communicating about the program. If you contact Michelle, the director, she will respond pretty quickly. Let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers!

smileytoast.gif

#9 JSCayman

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 05:39 PM

WOW! Thanks for the feedback guys. This all looks really great!

I will definitely check out the VESTA and the other ones as well.

My husband loves Washington State as he lived there shortly... so the Certificate program there is definitely an option.

I guess I have a few days of research to do here smile.gif

Thanks again all... you guys are great! Can't agree enough with everyone else who says it.

I am so excited to start smile.gif

#10 Wade's Wines

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 06:18 PM

JS,
While you're making these decisions on where to get your education, also give serious thought to where you can buy land and what varieties of grapes will thrive there. It's safe to figure you need at least one vine to produce one gallon of wine. If you have 500 vines per acre, then with luck you'll get 500 gallons per acre. So, if you make a few dollars per bottle, $10 or so per gallon or per vine, then you need several acres to make a living at it. Once you're established, in 5 or 10 years after planting, and your reputation for excellence is known far and wide, you should make far more per bottle-gallon-vine-acre. But starting up, weigh the learning curve, the investment, the labor and everything else. Be a realist. Don't expect it to take off on its' own. You are its' backbone, its' labor force, its' servant and its' primary investor. Robert Mondavi said, "The way to make a small fortune in the wine industry is to start out with a large one!" You can do it. Just start out with a clear and realistic vision! You certainly found a wonderful place to take your stand and plant your vines! I wish you great success!!!
Wade
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#11 Hammered

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 08:07 PM

If budget is seriously an issue, South Seattle Community College is getting accolades for its program. And don't discount how much you can learn on your own by reading some really informative books and following along with this forum. Start making wine and learning what you can do to improve them, and once you get into a program you'll have a good head start.

I haven't had any serious formal training, but I talk technique with many commercial winemakers and many times they don't know what I'm talking about.

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#12 JSCayman

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 09:56 PM

I agree it will take a real investment to get things rolling and I am not going to skimp on land for the vineyard and am already saving towards it... But I would really hate to spend my entire savings on the learning courses and come out of them with no money to buy a vineyard and pay start up costs while maintaining a piggy bank. I don't think I would want to put myself in a position where I would take out a loan and owes large sums of money and potentially lose the vineyard because it is taking too long to grow and move a sustainable crop.

At the same time, I don't want to short change myself on the educational aspect either as the more I learn the higher the odds are that I can establish a great crop and make a pleasing wine and trouble shoot any issues that may arise.

I think I am going to go with a 2 year program and 1-2 years working in the field. Hopefully by then I will be able to find my piece of heaven and get my vineyard started.

One thing I am a little concerned about is the fact that the courses I have been researching target growing grapes in certain regions of the USA. I do not plan on purchasing a vineyard in the USA. Probably more on the lines of South America or Europe... So I might do 1 year of field work in the USA and the year number 2 in the country or region I decide to establish the vineyard in.

Does that sound logical??

#13 fishalaska

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 10:54 PM

That sounds logical. You have to start somewhere. Listen to these folks here. Wade knows what he is taking about along with the majority of others in the forum. I learn from them.
Scott
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#14 Wade's Wines

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 05:25 AM

Thank You, Scott! (The check's in the mail! lmao.gif )
Tennessee Auctioneer, makin' wines and growin' vines!
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#15 gverburg

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 05:52 AM

Check out Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo. As a Cal State school, it is cheaper than Davis. It also is an ag school, specializing in agriculture and engineering. You can't beat the location either.




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