OSU teaches online vineyard management classes for pros and newbies

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Mel Martinez, vineyard manager at King Estate, listens to an online lecture by OSU's Patty Skinkis. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)
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Participants learn to design a vineyard, manage pests, and balance yield and fruit quality

Oregon is home to 870 vineyards. When they've needed the latest information on growing grapes, they've been able to get it from two online classes offered by Oregon State University.

Professor Patty Skinkis, a viticulture specialist with the OSU Extension Service, has taught the courses. One is on vineyard management and the other focuses on grapevine growth and physiology (presently only offered on campus as of 2013). In the past, both were taught on campus in Corvallis to upper-division students and streamed live for the off-campus cohort.

As of March 2013, there were 145 on-campus students and 210 online participants who had taken the two courses since they started in 2008. Online learners have included vineyard managers, winemakers and owners of small vineyards and wineries. They've hailed from companies that include Adelsheim Vineyards, Stoller Vineyards and Domaine Drouhin.

Oregon growers sold $85 million of wine grapes in 2011, making them the state's 17th most important crop.

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2011 Oregon Vineyard Report; Patty Skinkis, viticulture specialist with the OSU Extension Service; OSU Extension Service's 2011 Oregon County and State Agricultural Estimates.

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