Art Chowder September | October 2021 Issue No. 35 Issue 35 | Page 25
THE LITTLE GUYS
Gordy Venneri wishes he had a wine school in Walla Walla when he and his business partner Myles Anderson ( who founded the enology program ) began Walla Walla Vintners winery back in 1995 ( the 8th winery in the Walla Walla Valley ). “ We went to U . C . Davis for some courses but none of it was as relevant to Washington as what we are teaching here in Walla Walla now . The Enology and Viticulture program is the best ( economic ) deal in the state .” Swan-Froese echoes that sentiment — adding that students may transfer to a larger school whether it ’ s in Pullman , Ellensburg or Bordeaux , France where their two-year degrees all transfer . Community colleges and state universities both serve budding grape growers and amateur winemakers , but the real benefit has been to the area ’ s wineries . In the last 20 years , the proliferation of wine schools means that established wineries are making the most of this educated workforce .
Community colleges have a “ hands-on ” approach and keep class sizes small , allowing 30 students at a vintage to collaborate on making the wines to harvest , vinify , age , bottle , market and sell . Of all the state ’ s enology programs , the community colleges in south Seattle and Walla Walla operate the only “ wineries ” complete with wine to sell . They also have waiting lists to attend . College Cellars , from Walla Walla ’ s college , involves students in every facet of the wine process , from vineyard to tasting room to operating a wine club .