12 West Coast Colleges With Degrees for the Wine Industry

Many people have a love for wine, but for some, wine is a lifelong passion. If working in the wine industry sounds like your dream career, there is excellent news. There are several universities where you can major or minor in wine making. Continue reading to learn about twelve of the top college programs on the west coast that offer degrees in viticulture and enology. 

1. Washington State University

Washington State is home to one of the top wine programs in the Pacific Northwest. The school offers undergraduate, graduate degrees and certificate studies. WSU partners with wineries in the Evergreen state, and students can build valuable connections within the industry while working to support local businesses. Additionally, enrollee can pursue business and marketing degrees specific to the wine industry.

2. Walla Walla Community College

At Walla Walla Community College in Washington, students receive wide-ranging instruction around the production and sale of wine, equipping them to become competitive players in America’s wine industry. The school’s Institute for Enology and Viticulture owns several acres of teaching vineyards where their students can learn hands-on. Further, as a student-staffed teaching winery. participants practice promoting the winery at local wine events, gaining valuable marketing experience.

3. Yakima Valley College

As Yakima Valley College says on their website, the wine industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Washington, with over 950 wineries and 350 grape growers in the state. YVC’s Vineyard and Winery Technology program offers two-year degrees and certifications which will put their students on the fast track to joining this flourishing field. Here, enrollees will become well acquainted with the business of wine in the campus’ award winning teaching winery, and will learn in depth about the latest technology involved with wine making. 

4. Oregon State University

Oregon is one of the most highly regarded wine producing regions in the nation. Consequently, Oregon State an ideal choice for anyone interested in this line of work. OSU’s program places a strong emphasis on horticulture, aiming to cultivate a robust understanding of the wine process from the vine to the bottle. As a part of their studies, students have the opportunity to conduct research projects at the campus vineyard, and to work closely with nearby wine producers to learn more about their trade. 

5. Linfield University

Linfield is a small liberal arts college in Oregon with a big passion for wine. By taking an interdisciplinary approach and teaching about the history, culture, science and business of wine, Linfield aims to foster a deep appreciation for this vocation. Additionally students at Linfield learn hands-on, paying frequent visits to local wineries and vineyards to expand their studies beyond the classroom.

6. Chemeketa Community College

The climate of Northern Oregon is ideal for cool-weather grapes, like pinot noir, and Chemeketa Community College in Salem is the perfect place to study the challenges and opportunities that come with practicing viticulture in this part of the country. Their Wine Studies program prepares students for careers as wine producers, cellar workers, vineyard managers, lab technicians and tasting room staff. The school maintains a strong relationship with the Northwest wine industry, allowing its students plenty of chances to network.

7. Southern Oregon Wine Institute

The Southern Oregon Wine Institute is devoted to wine: it’s right there in the name. Established in 2008 by Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon, the SOWI bills itself as the gateway to the thriving Umpqua Wine Industry. In this program, students help cultivate on-site vineyards, and practice with state-of-the-art technology to make the wine that is served up in SOWI’s quality tasting room. 

8. Fresno State

If you want a hands-on education in grape cultivation and wine making, Fresno State’s Department of Viticulture and Enology is hard to beat. Admitting 150 new students a year, Fresno state offers masters degrees and research assistantships in wine science and winery management. Students here learn by working in the campus wineries and on-site vineyard, the first and largest college vineyard in America. Many graduates from Fresno go on to be top leaders in the industry. 

9. California Polytechnic State University

Located on the beautiful coast of central California, Cal Poly is another excellent school for those looking to study in the heart of wine country. This university offers a disciplinary major that combines viticulture, wine making and the business of wine. Cal Poly features a 14-acre teaching vineyard and pilot winery, and assists students in getting internships within the local wine industry as a part of the program. With 300 undergraduate students enrolled at a time, this is one of the largest V&E programs in the country.

10. University of California, Davis 

At UCDavis, students can choose from multiple learning paths, including winemaking, wine marketing, and grape growing. A highly regarded agricultural school, this university in the Sacramento Valley region knows how to immerse its students in the world of wine. Participants in these programs study in the campus’ state-of-the-art research labs, as well as on the campus vineyard, which is well-respected for its emphasis on sustainable growing practices.

11. Sonoma State

Sonoma State, is home to the Wine Business Institute, which pairs the local wine industry with the university’s school of business. The WBI focuses on the economic side of wine production, offering concentrations such as wine industry finance and wine sales management. These courses are led by industry professionals, who strive to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs for their careers. 

12. Napa Valley College

No one does wine like Napa Valley, making Napa Valley College the quintessential location for learning the art and science of wine making. Through its network of laboratories, vineyards and teaching wineries, the Viticulture and Wine Technology program educates students on every facet of the business. Participants are mentored by leading wine professionals, and have a great chance of going on to work in the world-famous Napa Valley wine industry

With a booming wine market in the US, these twelve schools are committed to the future winemakers of America. Whether your interest lies in agriculture, fermentation or sales, the selection of programs make it possible to carve out a career in the industry.

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