Drink Degree: Unique Program Has Students Making Wine

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KINGSVILLE, Ohio-- Kent State University is offering two one-of-a-kind degrees: associate degrees in grape growing and wine making.

Some Kent State University students got some hands=on experience as they pruned grape vines at this Kingsville research vineyard near Ashtabula. The students are part of KSU's wine degree program.

"It's unique because it's the only wine degree program in the state of Ohio so students can come to Kent State University in Ashtabula and they can get an associate's degree in Viticulture which is grape growing or in Enology which is wine making,” said Dr. Jodi Creasap Gee, program director of Viticulture and Enology.

Dr. Gee said over the past ten years, the wine industry in Northeast Ohio has grown tremendously and there are now nearly 200 wineries in the Buckeye State. The program is going into its third year and currently there are 90 students around Ohio working on a Viticulture or Enology degree from KSU.

"The best part of our program is that our students get a hands-on experience in the vineyard or in the winery before they actually finish their degree. That way if they are going to an employer, one of the wineries here in Ohio or anywhere else they can look, I spent so many hours working in a vineyard or working in a winery already,” Dr. Gee said.

Many of the students have various degrees and worked in different fields but when they found out Kent State University is offering a major in wine making and grape growing they said they just had to sign up.

Nancy Evans is graduating this spring with degrees in grape growing and wine making.

Evans is still learning but already has a job. She's working as an assistant wine maker. Evans said KSU’s wine program gives you the tools to get ahead.

"I have a passion for wine, for making wine, for drinking wine, for enjoying it with others and having other people learn about it,” she said.