Viticulture students at Okanagan College have something new to cheer about.
Black Hills Estate Winery is creating a new scholarship fund to provide awards up to $5,000 annually to aspiring winemakers and viticulturists.
“If someone from the valley has a goal and an aspiration to get into the wine industry we’d like to be part of helping enable them to have a career,” said Glenn Fawcett, Black Hills Estate Winery Director.
The funds for the student awards came from a unique fundraiser held at Black Hills. Every year, the Oliver winery hosts a release party for its latest batch of signature wine, Nota Bene. The event draws hundreds of people who enjoy food, drinks, live entertainment and a silent auction. The proceeds of the silent auction are donated to a local charity.
This year’s event raised $16,000 which is providing funding for the new student awards. Fawcett said finding employees is one of the biggest challenges in the wine industry, and he hopes the awards will inspire new students to pursue the craft.
“We believe we need to have a community of people who are making a career in the wine industry,” said Fawcett, adding he’s impressed by the quality of the students coming out of Okanagan College’s viticulture programs.
“Having a local program for wine production and hospitality is the best way for us to grow together.”
“We’re thrilled to receive this support from Black Hills Estate Winery,” said Eric Corneau, Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen. “Supporting students financially through scholarships is a very powerful and meaningful way to foster the conditions for student success.”
Okanagan College Penticton campus offers several training and education programs for the wine industry, including Viticulture Certificate, Wine Sales Certificate and Winery Assistant Certificate. The campus is also running a pilot delivery of the Viticulture Technician Diploma, which runs until April 2019.