UK To Offer Wine-Related Courses

Jul 27, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The University of Kentucky is getting a lot of interest in new courses it plans to offer that are related to wine, including one class this fall that features wine tasting.

Professor Michael Barrett, who will teach a wine appreciation class, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he has been "overwhelmed with interest" from students. The class is restricted to those who are at least 21 and will educate students on the history, science and pleasure of wine.

Barrett says students should understand the qualities and chemistry of multiple wines after taking the course, which will include training to develop palates and a trip to a vineyard and winery.

UK says the class and three others that are in the works will help provide more skilled workers for the state's growing wine industry.

Another course being offered in the fall explores the science behind wine and beer and will make students more familiar with career opportunities.

Professor Seth DeBolt said Viticulture, Wine and Brewing Science won't offer tastings though.

"This isn't promoting alcohol consumption," he said. "This is purely about science and careers."

DeBolt said beer and wine are a huge international business and he will cover topics from grapevine physiology to beer industry economics.

"There is demand in the industry for graduates and no courses," DeBolt said.

UK oenologist Tom Cottrell said Kentucky generates about $15million in annual revenue from roughly 150,000 cases of wine.

Two other courses are planned in the future.

Next spring, grape and wine researcher Jeff Wheeler will teach a course that introduces students to viticulture and the following fall UK will offer a wine production class.

"There has been a lot of interest from students to work in the vineyard," said Patsy Wilson, a UK viticulture specialist.

There are 68 wineries and 140 to 160 wine and grape growers in Kentucky, she said.

Wheeler said the state must increase vineyard production to support a vibrant wine industry and allow winemakers to use mostly local produce.

"There is great potential for high-quality wine in Kentucky," Wheeler said.