Wine program shows signs of success early on

Katie Paukst

Kent State Ashtabula campus has had a successful first semester with its wine-degree program.

This fall, Ashtabula campus began offering an associates degree in enology, the study of wine and wine making, and viticulture, the study of wine growing and grape harvesting. Currently, the program is the only one of its kind offered in the state of Ohio.

Lori Lee, senior special assistant to Academic Affairs, said the program has received an overwhelming positive response.

“The program has 34 students total, 24 online and 10 on ground,” Lee said.

The program is affiliated with the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance, or VESTA. This alliance, according to VESTA’s website, started at Missouri State The university is partnered with colleges, state agriculture agencies and vineyards in 11 states. Its goal is to promote education in grape growing and wine making.

Kent Glaus, the program’s newest member, is the director of Viticulture and Enology. “With more than 20 years of experience, Glaus is an excellent addition to the program and brings experience and knowledge,” Lee said.

“Something very exciting that is happening for the first time with this program is three local students are starting their practicum,” Glaus said. The practicum is when students go to commercial vineyards and work side by side with experts.

Glaus said a great part about the practicums is that they can be arranged wherever the student lives. Currently, the program has a student from Cincinnati, who can take the practicum right in the Cincinnati area.

“That’s what is so great about this program. With more online class options, students have free-range to take the classes from anywhere they would like,” Lee said.

Christine Mramor, junior enology major, has been taking classes on ground. Mramor, 51, said she started the program this fall after seeing an ad in the paper about wine degrees and thought it would be a great experience.

“I already have a background in horticulture and wanted to go back to school to expand on my degree,” she said in an email interview.

Mramor said she would enjoy enology more than viticulture, but after starting the program, she has been learning both enology and viticulture.

“I think the program is a good idea because of all the wineries in the area,” Mramor said. “The more students the better because the wineries need experienced help.”

Lee agrees with Mramor that the program will be successful because of all the vineyards centrally located in and around Ashtabula County.

Glaus and Lee are expecting to have more students enrolled for the upcoming fall semester. For more information, visit the Ashtabula campus website or contact Lee at [email protected].

Contact Katie Paukst at [email protected].