Wine Academy Heads for Third Year, 9 Slots Remain for 2019 Session

Graduating students at northern Nevada’s Wine Academy were busy right up to the moment they received their certificates. They turned out the school’s first batches of apple wine, and then formed an assembly line to bottle, cork, and label the Malbec they’d made as part of the one-year curriculum.

Between moments of coaching, instructor and founder Joe Bernardo described the second year as a maturing phase for the program, which he teaches in a wine cellar he carved out by hand from the earth beneath his residence. Story continues below…

Graduating students bottled red wine on their last day at northern Nevada’s Wine Academy, January 19,2019. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

“I’ve kinda revamped my whole concept of teaching,” he told GBN. The students are more hands-on, and the course material has changed.

Gunny Benson received his certificate of completion from Wine Academy founder Joe Bernardo on January 19, 2019. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

“When five or six people have asked the same question, then I think, ‘let’s make that part of the class,’” Bernardo said. “My lecture material has gotten quite a bit more detailed.”

Bernardo is one of the region’s most experienced winemakers, a vineyard consultant, and a partner in Basin and Range Cellars, one of 7 commercial wineries in Nevada.

The year-long Academy program starts in the early spring with vineyard tending. After the harvest, the students move inside and spend the winter making wine. The concept was inspired by a now-defunct program at the University of Nevada called “Adopt a Vine,” where the participants assumed ongoing responsibility for a portion of the UNR vineyards during the growing season.

He’s looking forward to the new session, but for each of the first two, Bernardo had been uncertain whether to continue. As the first year wound down, he believed demand was satisfied, but was surprised by a rush of inquiries about the next session. As year two concludes, he wondered again whether to keep it going. But prior to the announcement of the new class, there were 16 prospective enrollees. (The new session starts March 16. Additional class information below.)

Some of the graduating students have attended both years, including Ingrid and Gunny Benson, a married couple who “did all the stupid stuff,” when they tried to make wine on their own, Gunny told GBN.

“We started out with two (vines). Now we have 40,” he said. “We bought a Tuff Shed. We have a wine room, all because of what he taught us.”  Benson also gained a broader understanding of wine, he said.

“If I take a sip of wine, I can tell you what kind of wine it is, where it comes from, how long it’s been bottled.”

The Academy is a nonprofit project of Nevada Vines & Wines. Class enrollment tops out at 25, but Bernardo is allowing former students to repeat any class at no charge.

2019 WINE ACADEMY SCHEDULE

CLASS FEE:  $150/individual, $250/couple
CONTACT: JoeBernardo 65 [at] yahoo [dot] com
MARCH 16 Introductions and greetings
APRIL 20 Tending Vines Growth, bud-break and more
MAY 18 Pruning, watering and irrigation systems
JUNE 15 Weeding, suckering and final pruning
JULY 20 Leaf pulling, berries drop, and final touch up
AUGUST 17 Tying up all vines, watering, water change and netting
SEPTEMBER 21 Test Brix for Sugars, talk about harvest or (harvest) Crush and De- Stem if ready
OCTOBER 19 Pick if not done before, begun the process of wine making
NOVEMBER 16 Testing wine, PH, acid and SO2 review testing and reasons
DECEMBER 21 Rack and taste wines, determine to add oak or not, and maybe bottle if needed, TAKE WINE HOME AND ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!
JANUARY 18 Check all wines, finish bottling and review all information you learned. What would make this class better for my benefit for future Classes?

 

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