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Cabrillo College Launches New Wine Studies Degree Program, Expanding Opportunities for Students in the Wine Industry

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December 8th – APTOS, CA – Cabrillo College proudly announces the introduction of its inaugural Wine Studies Associate in Science (A.S.) degree, officially approved in October. The degree, set to debut in the 2024-25 Course Catalog, will take effect beginning in the fall of 2024. This milestone initiative underscores Cabrillo’s commitment to fostering educational pathways that are aligned with burgeoning industry demands.

Complementing the degree, the Wine Studies program now features two companion certifications:

  • A Certificate of Achievement in Wine Studies, approved in fall 2022, offers a strong foundation for students seeking employment in the wine industry by successfully finishing 7 courses;
  • A mirrored noncredit Global Wine Certificate of Completion. Noncredit courses and certificates are tuition-free, repeatable, pass/no pass offerings tailored for individuals aiming to enhance skills, increase employability, or simply pursue personal interests without earning college credit.

The degree and certificates were developed over a three-year period by instructor Deborah Parker Wong in conjunction with an industry Advisory Board drawn from Santa Cruz County. The program comprises 11 major courses including basic winemaking, wine grape viticulture, and world wines. Seven of those courses are transferable to the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) systems. Designed to introduce students to multiple career paths in the wine industry, the new degree and certificate options enhance the program’s appeal to those seeking continued education in the field.

Cabrillo’s Wine Studies department, housed within the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) Division, stands as an integral part of the College’s thriving Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management (CAHM) Department. As one of Cabrillo’s 142 Career Education degrees and certificates, the Wine Studies program focuses on foundational winegrowing and winemaking skills, an in-depth exploration of major wine-producing regions globally, and advanced sensory training.

“The introduction of Cabrillo College’s Wine Studies degree marks an exciting expansion within our career-focused offerings,” said Annabelle Rodriguez, Dean of Career Education and Workforce Development. “This program aligns with industry needs, providing students with a robust foundation for diverse career paths in the dynamic world of wine.”

The origin of Cabrillo’s Wine Studies program dates back to the year 2000 when the College introduced its inaugural wine course, crafted by then Department Chair Sue Slater, targeting wine service skills for students in the Culinary Arts program. Over time the program flourished, evolving to include 16 courses and three certificate programs, all now retired.

Deborah Parker Wong, who joined Cabrillo College in 2015, played a pivotal role in shaping the wine program’s trajectory. Parker Wong was initially recruited by Sue Slater to develop curriculum and teach the Department’s first Wine Faults course (CAHM 33). Today, this course stands as the sole accredited, independent offering of its kind available to students in California. After Slater’s retirement, Parker Wong envisioned the future of the program as a path for students to matriculate to four-year and graduate degree programs in enology and viticulture. 

As Parker Wong states, “Cabrillo College is based in the Santa Cruz Mountains American Viticultural Area, a historic, world-class winegrowing region, and an ideal place to study wine. In re-envisioning the wine program, I wanted our students to have a pathway to higher education and to leapfrog into four-year programs with skills that ensure their success. When I returned to school for a master’s degree, it struck me that I was teaching my heart out – but if the courses were not transferable and there was no opportunity to earn a degree, I wasn’t giving my students every opportunity to advance.”

About Cabrillo College

Cabrillo College is a leading California community college serving Santa Cruz County with locations in Aptos and Watsonville. It is ranked #1 in transfers to UC Santa Cruz. Founded in 1959, the College offers over 100 academic and career technical education programs that serve multiple educational goals such as A.A. and A.S. degrees, certificates of achievement, skills certificates, transfer to 4-year institutions or for lifelong learning and personal enrichment. With a commitment to quality and equity, Cabrillo connects all learners to pathways that propel them from where they are to where they aspire to be, including: academic, personal, and career growth.

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