looking at laddering the two-year program into such potential next steps as a graduate program that carries on from the diploma; as well as the possibility of combining some of the diploma courses and continuing studies courses for credits toward a degree in viticulture.

“We realize that wineries don’t want to lose their expertise in the vineyard to winemaking, but a stronger bridge is needed to provide viticulturists with some knowledge of wine sensory evaluation,” he notes.

Today’s agri-tourists, and wine consumers generally, are much more interested in the vineyard side of wine-making now that they have some understanding of the constituents of a good wine. They want to take the next step and learn which techniques in the vineyard lead to what qualities in the wines they enjoy, explains Rouse. “They want to experience the vineyard, not just the wines. They’re very interested in all the complicated factors that make up the wines they taste.”

As well, people love to talk about the various factors that make a wine palatable.

Since tourism is a big part of the wine industry, it’s important the industry cater to all these interests to draw visitors to the Okanagan to taste the wines.

Rouse explains it is a continuum: vine—wine—dine coupled with the business side of the industry: Stay and pay.

To make it all work and benefit everyone in both industries, as well as the restaurant side of things, it’s vital there be quality talent throughout that continuum, he explains.

“The Okanagan is becoming internationally recognized because of its wine, culinary offerings and tourism. It’s a destination market. We need to build and manage our businesses so they continue to be successful into the future. “The Viticulture Technician Diploma program is just one cog in that machinery.”

Last year, the college was involved in organizing a Wine and Culinary Tourism Futures Conference that

16 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2018

brought delegates from around the world in Kelowna to discuss the various experiences in different parts of the world and increase

collaboration between academia and industry for a better future. Work is underway at Okanagan College for more global

collaborations involving the wine, culinary and tourism sectors, adds Rouse.

He is most appreciative of the industry’s involvement in building

and supporting the program; and the fact it exists because of the cooperation between the industry and the college.

“The industry’s wisdom was essential.”

Once the full two years of the pilot program are complete and a few tweaks are made, based on the experience of the two-year pilot, the Viticulture Technician Diploma program will be launched in September, 2019.

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