Okanagan Wine Festival Society Gives Back to Fund Viticulture Education

The wine tourism industry is ensuring Okanagan College’s Viticulture students receive some extra fruit for their educational labour.

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has collaborated with TricorBraun WinePak to provide an annual $1,000 award to a student enrolled full-time in the College’s Viticulture Certificate program at the Penticton campus.

Eric von Krosigk, chair of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, said the award illustrates its full-spectrum support for the industry here in the Okanagan – from the vine to the wine.

“There is an old adage that we cannot make great wine unless we grow great grapes,” said von Krosigk, who is also the winemaker and viticulturist at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. “With this type of bursary, we underscore the importance of viticulture to our wine industry.”

TricorBraun WinePak, a division of the century old international packaging company, has been supplying the North American wine industry with top quality bottles since 1982.

“Our company fervently supports the education of new talent to ensure the sustainability of the grape growing practices in British Columbia,” said Heidi Cook, TricorBraun’s sales manager for the Pacific Northwest. “We hope that the recipient goes on to a successful career.”

In making the announcement, Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation, expressed her gratitude for the two organizations’ collaboration in the creation of the award.

“Establishing an award like this will make a real difference for Viticulture students who show both academic ability and financial need,” she said.

With this contribution, there are now five annual $1,000 awards provided by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society to Okanagan College students who are enrolled in various programs necessary to a thriving wine and food region; from the Culinary Arts to Business programs with specialties in Marketing, Events and Hospitality.

Blair Baldwin, who is a professor with the College’s Okanagan School of Business and Project Manager for the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, said incorporating viticulture into the awards program simply makes sense.

“We are a young industry and understand the critical importance of the science of viticulture,” Baldwin said. “With a flow of new strong viticulturists in the field, we will continue to maintain our stellar reputation for our wine region.”

Students in the Viticulture Certificate program move from studying viticulture regions in Canada and wine styles from around the world through to the scientific aspects of grapevine biology, followed by an extensive examination of vineyard management including soil and irrigation considerations, and business issues including human resources and finances.

Classroom study is supported with a practicum in one of the many vineyards in the South Okanagan.

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society represents 113 member wineries and 25 tourism operators throughout the Okanagan. The society organizes four seasonally inspired wine festivals, including its signature Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, which draws close to 30,000 tourists each year.

For more information regarding the award, contact the Okanagan College Foundation at 250-862-5630.

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