When forced to move online, do students’ classes shrivel like raisins in the sun, their glasses dried up and the neat rows of vineyards empty? Cal Poly’s wine and viticulture program is seeking fresh ways to answer this question, encourage collaboration and exploration of the wine industry.
COVID-19’s unexpected circumstances forced most wine and viticulture classes online, said wine and viticulture senior Mia Falcone. Even Falcone’s “sensory analysis of wine” class, which covers the science and practice of wine tasting, is completely virtual, she said.
According to Falcone, with virtual instruction, most of her classes are regularly scheduled synchronous meetings, but with no difference in course content or structure to pre-COVID-19 classes. The biggest change with virtual wine and viticulture classes is the course delivery over Zoom, Falcone said.
“I think the only real way my major classes have changed is simply that most of them are online, except for the winemaking and viticulture classes with labs that must be done on campus,” Falcone said.
Wine and viticulture sophomore Hailey Powell believes that her major is pretty niche and still developing.
“While other classes have standard textbooks, there aren’t many wine textbooks, so getting that information from going to Zoom lecture is really important,” Powell said.
With a concentration in wine business, Powell’s work emphasizes collaboration and group projects, making synchronous lectures all the more important to attend, she said.
“I like that I’m able to be flexible with my time and schedule. While group projects always hold me accountable, I like being able to prioritize other things sometimes,” Powell said. “Love self-care.”
In-person labs for the department can vary depending on the class, said wine and viticulture senior Annika Salenjus, who is currently enrolled in a wine tasting lab.
“I’ve had some [labs] where we are out in the vineyards and some where we spend all day in the winery,” she said.
But regardless of the variations in a typical lab setting, each lab is generally small and very hands-on, emphasizing learning through practical practice, according ot Salenjus.
With COVID-19 pandemic safety precautions in place, “labs have been interesting,” Salenjus said.
“Luckily enough for me, my lab this quarter is held in-person, and I haven’t had a lab done entirely virtual,” she said.
Though her lab is in-person, Salenjus said all preparations for labs are virtual and asynchronous. The room is fully sanitized before and after use, and everyone wears masks throughout the entire lab. According to Salenjus, the lab instructs just eight students at a time, and they maintain six feet social-distancing at all times.
Pre-recorded lectures and videos cover upcoming lab materials before student arrival on-site. This is to maximize the limited time spent in contact with other people, she said.