We are fortunate enough to live in one of the diverse wine-making spots in the world. And while Eastern Washington may be the epicenter of our state's wine industry, there is a wine making school right here in Seattle!
The Northwest Wine Academy is the first and only working and teaching winery of its kind.
"The Northwest Wine Academy is a program in South Seattle College, which is in West Seattle, said Regina Daigneault, instructor at Northwest Wine Academy. "And we have three degrees that we offer. They are certificates, but we also give an AA degree in wine making. We have a winery on the campus and we teach students how to make wine, so that's one of the degrees."
And it's not just wine making. There are programs focused on wine marketing and sales and food and wine pairing.
"There's so many classes and avenues," said Nikki Harris, student. "When you think about wine, there's only certain narrow things you can think of, but this place opens up your options and the way you think about wine."
"I worked in wine bars and I really liked talking about things, but I also like having a bit more of a solid background in history, process and production," said Brandon Pottieger, also a student. "It makes it easier to talk about in the long run when you're trying to sell someone wine. People like a story and if you have a good basis of knowledge, it's a lot more fun to engage with folks who are buying wine."
One thing we found out is how surprised some students are when they find out just how much is involved in making it to graduation.
"They think 'oh this is going to be so much fun, we're going to be tasting wine in class,'" explained Daigneault. "And they do, but there's a lot of science behind it and people don't realize that. So once they get in and see that, they may decide, maybe I don't want to be a wine maker, maybe I'll go the marketing path, maybe I'll think about tourism and wine and food pairing."
No matter what path you choose, there's no lack of hands-on experience.
"We went to Italy this summer and got to go on a two-week study abroad program within Northern Italy," explained Pottieger. "And we went to a vineyard in Umbria that has a wall surrounding it that was built 2,200 years ago. It was super fun to be taking information that we'd learned in Wine History or Wines of the World and seeing it in a real-world application. To get to see it, touch it, stick your hands in the dirt, was like full circle education and it was awesome. It was super cool."