Mt. Vernon Register-News

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July 10, 2014

VESTA program expanding

INA — Due to increasing interest in the local viticulture and enology industry, the Rend Lake College Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance program is offering two online courses this fall for students to learn skills necessary in the grape-growing and wine industry.

Candice Fitch-Deitz, VESTA Illinois state coordinator, said the growth in the wine industry is something she sees on a regular basis in the norther and central part of the state, but the trend has started moving into this area.

“My current focus is getting more in-district students to enroll in VESTA courses because I have many local wineries contacting me, looking for students to employ,” Fitch-Deitz said. “There are a very large number of vineyards and wineries in Southern Illinois and the industry is booming.”

The first course, Introduction to Viticulture, begins Aug. 21 online. The class covers typical practices for commercial vineyards such as site selection and preparation, equipment and more. The course is beneficial for all grape-growing enthusiasts.

Also offered online this fall is Introduction to Wine Microorganisms, and will begin online Sept. 2. The three-credit-hour course is designed to introduce students to the organisms frequently encountered in the wine-making process, both beneficial and harmful. Due to the high demand for this course in particular, an additional online section has been added to accommodate more students.

Both courses can be used toward the associate degree programs in enology and viticulture. The programs last five semesters. Each program also has an occupational certificate that requires 21 to 24 credit hours.

For more information about the classes or the VESTA program, contact Fitch-Deitz at deitzc@rlc.edu or at 437-5321, ext. 1724.

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