Wine Country's Youngest Grape Growers

Winemaker Ken Wright teams up with Yamhill-Carlton High School to bring viticulture to teenagers.

By Meaghan Morawski December 3, 2012

Move over Eyrie and Brickhouse, there’s a new pioneering label in town: Yamhill-Carlton High School.

Well, sort of. In an effort to help develop Oregon’s next generation of vintners, winemaker Ken Wright has been working with Future Farmers of America to create a viticulture program at Yamhill-Carlton High School.

The program is the first of its kind in Oregon, following in the footsteps of St. Helena High School in Napa Valley and Sonoma’s Windsor High School.

Launched in September, the program lets students learn all aspects of viticulture management—planting, pruning, maintaining, and marketing the grapes to wineries—while earning community college credit along the way.

The students won't actually make wine. (That will, eventually, fall to the wineries who buy the grapes.) But they will tend to a small test vineyard that has been planted beside the school, where Wright hopes to plant an acre of pinot noir in the spring (provided he can raise $20,000, which he's already on the way toward accomplishing).

Of course, we're happy to volunteer our time to such educational efforts. So should any wineries who end up with the students' grapes need volunteer tasters, well, we're always happy to help.

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