Metro community college offers vino degree

Tuesday, September 2nd 2008, 9:58 am

By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

EL RENO, Okla. -- Oklahomans are juicing state soil for what some are calling an up-and-coming industry. They're learning how to grow vineyards, make wine and turn a profit.

A metro community college is now offering a degree in vino.

You might expect such a degree to be offered in a European village. Classes are offered in a local nearly century old chapel and vineyard is located near El Reno.

"We can grow world-class grapes here in this state if we take the time to adhere to that education," instructor Andrew Snider said.

Snider heads up the viticulture program at Redlands Community College. The Chapel Creek winery vineyard is where students learn how to grow grapes from the ground up.

"They're going to know how to plant grapes, prune grapes, train grapes, harvest grapes," Snider said.

Snider teaches a technique he learned in France.

"When I came back from Europe about a decade ago I turned some of my parent's land into a vineyard and put in a winery and that's how I got started," Snider said.

Now he helps students start their own wine-making business.

Wayne Skrdla is taking part in the hands-on education and wants to carry on a family tradition.

"Actually, my grandfather used to grow wine, actually he didn't grow it, he made it," Skrdla said. "He was a very avid winemaker."

As Skrdla and other students learn, the art of growing grapes takes patience and sweat.

The class doesn't stop in the vineyards. The students also lean the process of making and bottling wine.

Future wine-makers like Max Cremer will soon be offering Oklahomans a taste of their success.

"Ten years from now when you go to have a nice steak, evening meal, and have a nice glass of red wine you're going to see there will be a lot more people serving good wine with made from Oklahoma grapes," Skrdla said.

The average startup cost is about $6,000 an acre and could take five or six years before you break even.


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