NY college, winery teaming up

Freedom Run Winery photo

 CAMBRIA, NY -- While some people are concerned about college students paying too much attention to alcoholic beverages, at Niagara County Community College the interest is being channeled in a positive way.

NCCC and Freedom Run Winery have entered into an agreement for the business to host a school vineyard and serve as the working lab for students studying "Winery Operations," the college’s newest two-year degree program. Also part of the effort is the Niagara Falls Culinary and Hospitality Institute.

The partnership, announced Monday at the winery (part of the tasting room is shown above), "is our first concrete step (in opening) the culinary institute," said NCCC President James Klyczek. "It’s a significant development."

The degree program will consist of 20% classroom work and 80% hands-on experience in all aspects of viniculture, from the planting of vines to picking and processing of the fruit through bottling and sale of finished wines, Klyczek said.

Freedom Run Winery donated an acre of land last spring on which the school's first 300 grape vines were planted. Half are Merlot, half are Chardonnay. Klyczek said the school’s long-term goal is to see wine produced under the Culinary Institute name and served and sold in its restaurant and its wine boutique which is stocked with Niagara Wine Trail wines.

"There’s a real need in Niagara County for anyone with winemaking experience," said Kurt Guba, cellar master for Freedom Run Winery. "It’s exciting to think you can study at a local college and get a job, a career, locally."

Niagara Falls Culinary and Hospitality Institute is to be the new focal point of the college's culinary and hospitality/tourism degree programs, sited in a section of the former Rainbow Mall in downtown Niagara Falls.

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