YVC teaching winery hosts colorful tasting

CANDID WINE CONVERSATION — (left to right) Judy Hardwood and Kathy Esparza, with Katie Risk in the background gain an insightful and colorful history about the school’s amphorae during the teach, tour and taste open house.

GRANDVIEW — Yakima Valley College’s teaching winery, students and Yakima Valley Vintners hosted a community open house in March for enthusiasts to learn about wines produced in the Yakima Valley, tour the winery and enjoy tastings of student-crafted, award-winning wines.

The 5-8 p.m. teach, tour and taste event showcased how YVC’s students, and the only teaching winery in the region, inspire an educational environment which contributes to the growing wine industry in the Yakima Valley and Washington state.

Visitors were provided an opportunity to learn about Yakima Valley wines, old and new world techniques, and participate in spirited discussions about everything wine, from history to science, and even culinary pairings.

Faculty, along with students and members from Yakima Valley Vintners, led the intimate group tours so they could observe the inner workings of the winery and enjoy tastings of student-crafted, award-winning wines along the route.

Katie Risk of Prosser, a wine marketing student who has worked at Bill’s Tasting Room since 2015, shared her enthusiasm for the curriculum.

“I really fell in love with the business… the industry. Everyone that comes in… they’re all my good friends — our whole wine club. So, it was like another ‘Why not take this route when you already have this information under your belt’.”

Initially, the part-time student aspired to earn a wine sales certificate, but she is now close to finishing the first of two course classes. She has decided to pursue production and changed her field of study to an Associate Degree.

“I am going to go for it. What else am I going to do? I want to learn. There are all these things to learn about. And, lots of amazing people that are good at teaching. There’s nothing else I want to do,” Risk voiced.

The dynamic student welcomed the tour group to her instructional station, where she spoke about three different methods and equipment used to make Pinot Grigio, a white grape wine at the campus.

She discussed how the school’s amphorae, an Italian clay vessel, nicknamed the “Drunken Turtle” is utilized in the production and storage of the wine, from six to eight months.

“They used to bury the vessels after putting the grapes in there, close it and walk away. The skins and juice would stay in contact with one another for 12-24 months. And, they would open it up and pull the juice out,” explained YVC Instructional Winery Tech Brad Smith. “And, so it’s interesting how in wine a lot of the techniques that are being done now are going back to their roots.”

There were three different and very distinct Pinot Grigio offerings, which involved different processes for the inspired aficionados to experience. They were able to try an unfiltered wine. Another one came from the amphorae and the last pouring was from a stainless-steel tank batch.

Rita Brown, Sunlight Farms, attended the educational event and was excited to take part in all aspects of the tour with an interest of expanding her wine knowledge and taste for a varietal of wines.

She was pleasantly surprised by the unfiltered sample and described the bouquet of flavors as, “…light and pure.”

It was her first time trying the natural and unclarified wine.

The curious and ambitious connoisseur’s appreciation for seeking to understand the subtle and distinguishable differences of wine making was all part of the relaxed Friday evening of fun.

As Brown recognized the complexity of color in her glass, engaging dialogue filled the winery about the minerality aromas of the amphorae and the trusted stainless-steel character tones that inspired guests in wanting another sip.

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