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FLC Partners with Willamette Valley Vineyards to Enhance Viticulture Program

July 29, 2022

student harvesting grapes in vineyard

Folsom Lake College has established a scholarship and funding partnership with Willamette Valley Vineyards, a leading producer of Pinot Noir in Oregon, to benefit the school’s viticulture program and students.

Through Willamette Wineworks, its micro-winery in Folsom, California, Willamette Valley Vineyards will donate 3% of its Natoma wine label sales from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023, to help Folsom Lake College further develop the college’s viticulture and enology program.

The winery will also donate $2,000 each year to fund an annual scholarship program. The first two recipients will be awarded $1,000 scholarships for the 2022-23 school year. This comes with an opportunity to intern at Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon during the 2023 harvest.

“This effort represents our commitment to the Folsom community and the training of future winemakers,” said Willamette Valley Vineyards Winery Director Christine Clair. “We are excited about the work being done at Folsom Lake College and want to support the college’s efforts to prepare students for employment in vineyards and wineries.”

The winery supports a variety of organizations that are developing the next generation of winemakers, including Oregon State University, Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, and now Folsom Lake College.

Folsom Lake College is in the heart of the El Dorado wine-growing region in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Its viticulture program was launched in the fall of 2019. Students who complete the program earn a two-year associate degree in small vineyard and winery management. The degree is also appropriate for those seeking further training in a four-year program in viticulture and enology.

“The partnership between Willamette Wineworks and the Folsom Lake College Viticulture program is a benefit to students and to the community,” said Folsom Lake College Dean of Instruction Greg McCormac. “The scholarship provided by Willamette is an obvious and much-needed form of financial support for students. The willingness of the team at Willamette to engage with our students and provide exposure to industry professionals and facilities is equally valuable. The opportunities to gain insight into the industry provide not only valuable training experience but also serve to further motivate students as they pursue their goals. In turn, FLC students are well prepared and informed to move into the workforce contributing to the stellar reputation the local wine industry has developed. We are grateful to Willamette for its willingness to collaborate and invest in our students.”

Willamette Valley Vineyards produces California wines under its boutique Natoma label, available exclusively at Willamette Wineworks on Sutter Street in Folsom’s Historic District. Natoma is named after an original Folsom vineyard that dates to the mid-1800s. In the early 1900s, Natoma Vineyard boasted 2,000 acres and was one of the largest vineyards in the state when gold was discovered on the property and the vines were replaced with dredgers.

Willamette Valley Vineyards is reestablishing Natoma by crafting local wines and celebrating Natoma’s place in California wine history. The company recently released six new Natoma wines, including Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Zinfandel, Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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The Folsom Lake College viticulture program is designed to train and develop students who can either work in an existing vineyard/winery business or transfer to a four-year degree program in viticulture, enology, or a related field.

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