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JCC purchases plot to grow grapes

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Jefferson Community College students will get hands-on experience planting and nurturing grapes next semester.

The college is renting a half-acre plot on Ridge Road to allow winery marketing and management students better to work with the sweet, cold-hardy grapes that flourish in the north country.

The Ridge Road plot near the Black River Trail was approved by the college board of trustees at its Sept. 4. meeting.

“Students will actually be planting these cold-hardy grapes,” winery management and marketing Program Coordinator and instructor Julie Purpura Hosbach said. “The first year, we’ll plant half an acre, about 200 vines.”

The winery management and marketing associate degree and certificate were developed last year to fill local vineyards’ needs for trained employees. The degree is supplemented with an oenology, or wine appreciation and selection, class and an introductory winery marketing and management class.

Until the college’s own vines are planted around May, however, viticulture students will get their hands-on experience tending to vines at local wineries, Mrs. Hosbach said.

“The plot can also serve to research,” she said. “All the local vineyards are experimenting themselves.”

The grapes that will be planted are Marquette, La Crescent, Frontenac Gris and Frontenac Blanc. These were developed by the University of Minnesota to withstand temperatures as cold as minus 30 degrees — a temperature with which the north country is familiar. More grapes may be added as they are developed.

For more information about the class or the degree, call Mrs. Hosbach at 786-2348.

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