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Like wine? Get a degree | Palo Alto offering wine-making associate's degree

"It is a demand from some of those growers and the winemakers—they need more skilled labor."

SAN ANTONIO — Like a fine wine, good things take time. At Palo Alto College's community garden, students will eventually be harvesting a little more than broccoli.

"We're actually planning on having it somewhere over there," Yessica Labay said, pointing to what will soon be the college's vineyard as Palo Alto introduces a wine-making degree. 

"Very, very excited," said Labay, a viticulturist, with a smile. "I love the fact that I'm going to be teaching something I'm so passionate about." 

Viticulture is the science of grape-growing, and Labay will also help teach enology—the process of making wine.

"We'll take them out and give them hands-on (experience) so that they can learn and see what other vineyards are doing," she said. 

The reasoning behind the new program is simple: The area needs it. 

According to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, there are nearly 400 wineries across the state that generated $13 billion in 2017, creating more than 100,000 jobs in the process.

"It is a demand from some of those growers and the winemakers—they need more skilled labor," Labay added. 

Labor is what Sloan Martin will give them. The Palo Alto sophomore is one of 24 students already enrolled in the first semester of this program.

"I'm excited," Martin told KENS 5. "I want to get into this field of work because my ancestors on my mom's side are winemakers. So ever since I learned about our history it just made me want to carry on the legacy." 

It's a legacy Labay is happy to take on as she's eager to watch this program grow.

School officials say Palo Alto College's class registration is open until Sunday. More information can be found on the school's website.


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