Wine 101: Students have their very own vineyard at school

Students at Yamhill-Carlton High School get to call a vineyard their classroom.

A couple years ago, Oregon winemaker Ken Wright and local businesses came up with the idea to make viticulture part of the Future Farmers of America/Agriculture curriculum at Yamhill-Carlton High School. The program also allows students earn college credit through Chemeketa Community College.

Nichole Eskelen teaches the viticulture class.

"We don't have to hop on a bus or go to someone else's facility," she said. "We can easily come down and work and learn and they have an actual visual aid."

Student Trask Ward agreed.

"It's fun doing something different rather than sitting at a desk all day long," he said.

Some students like senior William Bansen say this could very well be a career path.

Eskelen calls it a "land lab," essentially operating a vineyard on school property historically farmed for grain. Right now it's only an acre, but there are plans to expand it to 14 acres.

Students are responsible for everything from the landscaping to planting, growing, pruning and even eventually selling the grapes next year.

Eskelsen said: "We hope they walk away with skills that help them be productive in whatever workforce they're going into."