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NMSU offers winemaking class for students, community

  • By Emily C. Kelley
  • 575-646-1957
  • ekelley@nmsu.edu
  • Aug 15, 2013
men and women standing in front of fermentation lab

Before you can swirl, sniff and sip a glass of New Mexico wine, someone has to grow, crush, press and ferment the grapes, bottle the wine and get it to consumers. New Mexico State University offers a class that teaches both the science behind wine production and the business skills and theories needed to create a successful, small winery or vineyard in New Mexico.

The course, Wine Making, Production Costs & Marketing for Small Wineries, is a popular class open to students 21 years of age and older, along with appropriately aged members of the community, who can take the course as an Extension workshop.

Tracy Esslinger, who took the course last year as an Extension workshop, said she was considering putting in a vineyard on her family farm, so she took the class to learn more about the whole field to bottle process.

"The course really exceeded my expectations," Esslinger said. "It was a great experience - from setting up a financial and business plan for a small winery, to learning about all aspects of wine production, it was a challenging, amazing class."

Bernd Maier, NMSU Extension viticulture specialist, and Bill Gorman, professor emeritus of agricultural economics and agricultural business, team up each year to teach the course. Maier focuses on the art and science of growing and processing the grapes, while Gorman's expertise is on the business side of production and marketing.

"You'll learn about how wine progresses, the theories behind winemaking and learn about the various varieties of grapes," Maier said. "We know that a lot of people are interested in learning more about wine and the winemaking process. Lots of people in the community ask about it. This is a more hands-on, in-depth experience for the community at large."

Wine Making, Production Costs & Marketing for Small Wineries is a three-credit hour class, though you cannot enroll in the course online, as Maier or Gorman must personally verify that participants are 21 years of age by Sept. 15. There is a $125 fee for all participants, which covers the cost of grapes and bottles. All participants get one case of wine, which is produced by the class, at the end of the semester.

The course will meet Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Gerald Thomas Hall, and some Saturday mornings at the NMSU Fermentation Lab at Fabian Garcia Science Center.

To enroll in the course as an Extension workshop, contact Maier at bemaier@nmsu.edu or 575-642-6553, or for NMSU credit, Gorman at wigorman@nmsu.edu or 575-649-1295.