Online classes assist Oregon's $328 million wine industry

Mel Martinez, vineyard manager at Oregon's King Estate Vineyard, listens to an online lecture from OSU's Patty Skinkis's campus classroom.

When Oregon's 1,200 vineyards need the latest information on growing grapes, they've been able to get it from online resources offered by Oregon State University. The number of vineyards in Oregon has doubled since 2005, and wine grapes ranked No. 7 on the state's list of top agricultural commodities in 2019, with a production value of nearly $238 million.

Patty Skinkis, viticulture specialist with the OSU Extension Service, has been teaching online industry courses since 2008. Her course, Principles of Vineyard Management, provides professional development for industry members seeking continuing education, or for those new to grape growing or winemaking. The focus is on the importance of making informed management decisions in the vineyard by understanding impacts on grapevine physiology and economics. The course is offered to industry and the general public who is interested in commercial grape growing.

More than 200 industry members have taken the courses since their inception. Online learners have included vineyard managers, winemakers and owners and potential owners of small vineyards and wineries. They've hailed from Adelsheim Vineyards, Stoller Vineyards,  Domaine Drouhin, and many other small vineyards and wineries in Oregon as well as businesses in other states and countries.