SOWI Director featured in national publication

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- The director of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at Umpqua Community College was recently featured in one of the nation's leading wine trade publications.

Although it's based in an area with employment challenges, Chris Lake says this program is continuing to grow, creating opportunities for graduates.

Lake finds that a majority of his students want to start their own vineyard. "When I ask people, "What do you want to do with this?" maybe about 40% of them say, "I want to get a job working for a wine maker around here." The other 60% of them tend to be people who say, "I'm going to do this on my own. I need this information to make my business a success.""

After moving to Elkton and planting Pinot Noir grapes, that's exactly what Debra Koehler and her husband did.

Now, Debra is the co-owner of Hundredth Valley Vineyard. "I enrolled so that we knew what we were doing," she said. "Just to put it simply, I needed to learn everything and I needed to learn it immediately, because we were putting vines in the ground."

A restaurant in Elkton is now serving the Koehler's 'Big Leaf' Pinot Noir.