Skip to main content
Fall 2009
Print Bookmark and Share

Short Reports

Aspiring Vintners Move into New Teaching Winery

By Ted Boscia

This fall, a class of Cornell undergraduates became the first to learn the science and art of winemaking in the new CALS Teaching Winery at the Cornell Orchards.

Students taking Wine Microbiology evaluate fall grapes in the CALS Teaching Winery.
Craig Cramer
Students taking Wine Microbiology evaluate fall grapes in the CALS Teaching Winery.

In the course Wine Microbiology, taught by enology lecturer Kathleen Arnink, about 30 beginning vintners harvest fall grapes and then use chemical and microbiological tools to blend wines and control the fermentation processes. As the wines age into the spring, students will continue to adjust and filter until it is ready for bottling.

The $900,000, 1,800-square-foot winery, attached to the Cornell Orchards, acts as the Ithaca hub for CALS’ new viticulture and enology undergraduate major, which enrolls roughly 30 students and draws on more than 50 faculty members from the horticulture, food science technology, plant pathology, and applied economics and management departments.

“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Teaching Winery represents a major enhancement to our Viticulture and Enology (V&E) program,” said Dean Susan A. Henry at the building’s dedication on April 1. “Having this facility in Ithaca is crucial for our undergraduates, who will gain from hands-on experience in winemaking and grape-growing.”

The winery includes state-of-the-art fermentation tanks and equipment for grape storage and the preparation and analysis of wines, much of it donated by industry. It also allows students and faculty members convenient access to three acres of hybrid wine grapes at the Cornell Orchards and is near the program’s Lansing vineyards, which grow vinifera varieties like Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay.

CALS is long known for its viticulture research, and now claims the only college teaching winery in the eastern United States. Previously, V&E students crafted wines in a makeshift lab in Stocking Hall.

“The facility is among the finest in the United States and provides our students with the widest range of winemaking experience,” says Ramõn Mira de Orduña, associate professor of enology and a driving force behind the winery’s creation.