The new Cal Poly Wine Innovations Center will change the way Cal Poly teaches its vines to wine curriculum.
The center will be home to the Cal Poly wine program, which is the largest in the nation. It will be close to the vineyards, have updated winemaking technologies and new laboratories for research, said John Peterson, horticulture and crop sciences department chair.
“With the Wine Innovations Center will come many changes as well as additions to the Cal Poly wine program, which was needed,” said Kela Driggs, an agribusiness senior.
Currently, Orcutt Road Cellars provides a center for the Cal Poly Wines to operate. However, Orcutt Road Cellars is located off campus, which is not ideal for students, Driggs said.
The majority of the processing is done at the off-campus facility because there aren’t facilities on campus devoted to learning about winemaking. This means many of the wine and viticulture students do not have a place to experiment or test new innovative winemaking processes or flavors.
While the majority of the Cal Poly Wine corporation processing will be done through Orcutt Road Cellars, the Cal Poly Wine Innovations Center will provide the experimental aspect of winemaking on campus for the students.
The new plant will include grape crushing facilities, facilities with machinery for different winemaking techniques, taste and smell testing laboratories, as well as event facilities for seminars and networking meetings, Peterson said.
The center will bring these facilities to the Cal Poly campus to create a learning space for students and industry professionals, Peterson said.
“Cal Poly, being located right in the middle of the Central Coast, makes us a focal point in the coastal wine industry,” Peterson said.
With the business facilities in the new center, industry professionals will gain a first-hand view of the future of winemaking and the research done at Cal Poly. Students will also experience what the winemaking industry is about by working alongside professionals. This will ease their entry into the job market with more experience, knowledge and many more ideas, Peterson said.
“Our program is going to go from zero to success,” said Keith Patterson, wine and viticulture professor.
The success will be seen at Cal Poly, as one of the major goals of the center is to be a place that brings many aspects of Cal Poly together, and increase student involvement. The building itself will provide a centralized location on Cal Poly’s campus, Patterson said.
“The building is so close to the vineyards that the grape vines will be climbing up the walls,” Peterson said.
The location of the Wine Innovations Center will let students and faculty observe every moment of the winemaking process, from growth of the grapes to the bottling of the wine. It brings more knowledge and experience to every student involved in the process, Peterson said.
“Having this resource on campus will make our program a force to be reckoned with,” Driggs said.
According to Driggs, the future of the wine program at Cal Poly will be profoundly affected by the center — an effect that can only be beneficial. Driggs said besides bringing those who are a part of Cal Poly wine together, it will also allow great expansion of the program.
The expansion of the program is the number one goal of the center, and this doesn’t just mean in size. Peterson said expansion in research, of knowledge and of student participation is the ultimate plan.