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News Headline July 25, 2008

Mt. San Jacinto Offers Viticulture & Enology Classes

Credits can be transferred to 4-year schools; more courses likely to follow

by Kate Lavin
wine making and viticulture class
Etienne Cowper, winemaker for Temecula, Calif.,-based Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards, will teach the introduction to enology class beginning Aug. 23 at Mt. San Jacinto College.
Temecula, Calif. -- Starting next month Mt. San Jacinto College will start a series of classes for budding viticulturists and enologists. The first course, Introduction to Enology, begins Aug. 23 and will meet Saturday mornings for 16 weeks at the Temecula Education Complex.

MSJC previously has offered winemaking classes through its continuing education arm, but the enology class and its Introduction to Viticulture counterpart, which will be offered spring semester 2009, each are 3-credit courses that can be transferred to California State University, Fresno, or the University of California, Davis, serving as a launch-pad for students who hope to make careers in the wine industry.

According to Etienne Cowper, the winemaker for Windsor Creek Winery & Vineyards in Temecula, who will be teaching the enology class, several nontraditional students have expressed interest in the fledgling program. "There are going to be some people who are already interested in wine as hobbyists, as well as students from the college," he said.

Cowper holds a master's degree in agricultural chemistry focusing on enology from Fresno State, and he has more than a quarter-century of experience in the wine industry. He is a veteran instructor for MSJC, where he has taught some wine appreciation courses, which he said were more geared toward members of the community who are curious about wine than to those seeking a degree.

John Schuler, a chemistry professor from the school's Menifee Valley campus, wrote the curriculum for both introductory courses and secured the funding for the program, according to Cowper.

The Windsor Creek winemaker says he looks at Introduction to Enology as a survey class, reviewing the basics of fermentation, but also touching upon topics such as legal issues, history and a broader view of winemaking in different regions. Cowper added that a laboratory section promises to give students a peek at small-scale fermentation, so they can get a step-by-step view of what goes into making wine.

The Temecula Valley is known for its Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, and class fieldtrips will allow students to visit award-winning wineries and talk with the winemakers there. In the lab, Cowper said students will be experimenting with varietals grown in the region, but he added that down the road, if more courses are added to the program, it is likely that students will be able to experiment with making wine from berries not typically seen in the valley.

"In a sense it's the natural focus to look at wines made in this area, but I'm hoping to have a broader and wider scope than that," Cowper said. "I anticipate that not in this class, but in future classes, we would have wine appreciation and do comparative tastings of wine," he added.

For more information about the Introduction to Enology class that begins Aug. 23, contact John Schuler at (951) 639-5740 or
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