Students crush grapes for course credit in winemaking class
University distinguished professor Kris Berglund takes students from grape to bottle in his class, Science and Technology of Wine Production.
“We bring grapes in, we’ll crush them, we crush the stems, we’ll press, we’ll go through the fermentation process, we’ll go through all of the quality control and quality assurance steps,” Berglund said.
One of the beginning steps of the process took place on Thursday, when the students crushed grapes during class.
Students do not crush grapes with their feet, but instead use a much more efficient tool that crushes the grapes and stem simultaneously, Berglund said.
Berglund said watching the students crush grapes is one of his favorites parts of the semester.
This class is a part of a group of three classes, which are all a part of the Beverage Science and Technology minor.
Berglund said likes teaching the class because he gets to offer students a better appreciation of winemaking.
“There’s actually a lot of science that goes into (making wine), so we really try to emphasize that part of it, the more scientific element of it — it’s not just whipping up something in a vat,” Berglund said.
Berglund said the winemaking class was added to the minor when Berglund and the course’s other teacher, assistant professor David Miller, put together a proposal for class and got the funding for the course.
“It just seemed like there was an interest and a need (for this class) because the wine industry in Michigan is expanding quite a bit,” Berglund said.
Berglund said he likes teaching the class because he gets to offer students a better appreciation of winemaking.
Berglund’s claim of student interest is backed up by enrollment.
He said enrollment in the class has steadily been close to their maximum enrollment every fall.
Biochemistry and molecular biology senior Jack Yarema said the class is a journey in and of itself, and he is excited for the final product.
Skills taught in the class can have an immediate impact outside of school for him.
Yarema said his family owns a farm and has recently gone into the production of wine on their farm, so he is excited to help out with the winemaking.
For some students, the class is means of reconnecting with their heritage.
Chemical engineering senior Evan Alger said he wants to study winemaking because his grandfather made wine.
Berglund said some students will use the wine as a Christmas gift to their parents.
After having their parents pay for the class, students are able to gift their parents the most expensive bottle of wine they’ve ever had, Berglund said.