Art Chowder September | October 2021 Issue No. 35 Issue 35 | Page 24

Washington Wine Commission , up from a mere sip of 20 in 1980 . Ours is a cottage industry by contrast where many small , artisanal producers excite taster ’ s palates with well-made wine from roughly 90 vinifera variants .
Going back ten years , in 2010 , Washington boasted 480 wineries , less than half of today . ( Oregon and Idaho have seen similar , flourishing trajectories .) While that growth is the result of a more discerning wine drinker , it ’ s also the result of more knowledgeable workforce — including a sophisticated grape grower and winemaker . Today , with more than 1000 wineries in Washington , there is more demand than ever for disciplined education in both fields . Washington has risen to the challenge . Washington ’ s schools themselves offer every level of education from certificate to doctorate , satisfying the range of a student ’ s goals while supporting a growing industry . And what more delicious way to get an education ? Even if a professional career is not on your personal horizon , once one has put on the work boots of a winemaker , wine ’ s impressions will always be deeper .
Delicate aromas of cherry and rose petals infused with gentle cedar and aged tobacco may lure wine lovers to learn more about their favorite beverage , but it is the last thing on students ’ minds during the first week of wine school at Walla Walla Community College . Stepping out of the van into September ’ s dusty vineyard , given gloves and told to watch for “ rattlers ,” the real work of making wine begins to come clear . Harvest buckets and shears in hand , the grapes are as ripe and ready as the
students who harvest them . Danielle Swan-Froese coordinates the Enology and Viticulture program at Walla Walla Community College . “ We don ’ t usually lose students over the workload ,” Swan-Froese mentions , “ but it ’ s not the romantic ideal of making wine and sipping it . We have a hands-on program where students get to live every part of being a winemaker or grape grower .” Students arrive from high school as often as from retirement ready to dip their toe into , or make their fortune from , Washington ’ s growing wine industry .