Chemeketa students are making award-winning wine. Chemeketa Cellars, the student-made wine brand produced by the Wine Studies program, recently won a silver medal for its 2013 Pinot Noir and a bronze medal for its 2016 Pinot Blanc at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world.
This is the first competition the Wine Studies program has entered since its inception in 1999. This year’s competition received almost 7,000 entries from 35 states.
The news of the awards was a pleasant surprise to Amanda Fredrickson, the program coordinator of the Wine Studies program, who was unaware that wine from the program was entered into the competition.
“I didn’t actually know that we had entered until we had won. Truth be told, it was a bit of a surprise to us. It’s nice to have those accolades,” Fredrickson said.
“It stood out as one of the best of the breed, and that’s a big deal to the program. It’s also a sign to the industry that the winemaking staff here is serious and that they take their jobs seriously and they have the credentials to be leading these classes incredibly successfully and teaching these students the necessary skills to survive. It’s a wonderful accomplishment for the program,” Fredrickson said.
Despite recent accolades, Fredrickson said that the overall goal of the program has remained the same: to help students become successful at making wine and to create an opportunity for students to get a foot in the door of the industry. Selling the finished product is only a small part of the program.
“The program is about the students coming together to create these single small batch versions of wine, grown with the best grapes in one of the most coveted AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) in the state, let alone the region,” Fredrickson said. “Being able to grow the grapes that we do here and then take it and have the students be a part of the growing process and then be a part of the winemaking process is very much the story of the brand.”
Mandy Kolb, who recently moved to Oregon with her husband from Northern California, is one of the students enrolled in the program. Despite originally living near the famed Napa Valley wine region, Kolb said that she did not take an interest in winemaking until she found out about the program.
“I needed to find something to do with my time. What better than to do something with wine?” Kolb said.
“I looked into the program there at Chemeketa and it looked fun. I took a couple of classes last quarter and had great instructors and had a really great time. All of the other students within the program are really nice. It’s like a big family,” Kolb said.
“I’m looking forward to doing something within the wine industry after I graduate,” Kolb said.
Fredrickson said that wine created by students like Kolb is available for sale and also stated that the program will be opening a public tasting room in the near future, though an exact date has yet to be announced.
“All the money from the wine that’s sold goes directly to the program, and that allows us to have more workshops and more classes and more faculty,” Fredrickson said.