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Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 28
1850 - Death Valley '49er William Robinson dies in Soledad Canyon from drinking too much cool water [story]
Leaving Death Valley

The College of the Canyons wine studies program is becoming a tastier option for students by the day.

Due to an increasing global demand for experts in the field – as well as the focused devotion of the college to expand the culinary arts program’s resources and facilities – taking an introductory course in wine studies could prove to be the most rewarding, and surprisingly practical, decision a student can make.

“A lot of people come into the program saying ‘what can I do with this?’” said COC wine studies instructor DiMaggio Washington, who has trained upwards of 1,500 students at the college.

Photo: College of the Canyons/Jesse Munoz

Photo: College of the Canyons/Jesse Munoz

“But really there are a lot of opportunities, and we are doing our best to demonstrate how prevalent they are,” added Washington. “Overall, wine interest among Americans has quadrupled, and there are similar indications in China — where the new generation of Chinese have departed from the typical beer and spirits.”

The proof is in the Zinfandel, as numerous COC students have started using their experience in the program to leverage fruitful careers in the industry.

“It’s a program that’s really beneficial, my doors are definitely open,” said former COC student Victoria Waldorf, who since leaving the college has moved onto a career in the wine industry. “I’m in a paid position with commission, and now I’m getting hands-on experience about what I was learning in a book.”

While Waldorf has not yet graduated from the wine studies program with a degree, she credits her time at COC as being instrumental in helping her gain a leg up on the competition.

Waldorf, a mother of four, currently works at Beckman’s Winery in Santa Ynez.

“COC has some great exposure going for it in general,” Waldorf added. “For me personally, I have people up here (Santa Ynez) asking me ‘How do you know so much?’ And I tell them it has a lot to do with my time in Santa Clarita and at COC.”

Also trying to start her own wine business is former COC student Nancy Sallaberry, who recently moved to Texas with her husband to capitalize on the expanding industry.

“My business plan is to import boutique, California style wines to the Texas market,” said Sallaberry.“Eventually, I plan to also serve these same wines in my tasting room along with a select list of Texas wines.”

Sallaberry has yet to complete her degree at COC, electing instead to seize professional opportunity the moment it presented itself.

While Waldorf and Sallaberry represent two of the wine studies program’s most recent student success stories, several of Washington’s students have gone on to earn certification and enjoy professional success in the industry — from catering management to employment at vineyards.

Already, the college’s wine studies program is locally recognized for its excellence, with local businesses often sending their employees to COC to become more proficient in their knowledge of wine.

“Partnership, partnership, we’re all about partnership,” said Cindy Schwanke, Department Chair of the college’s culinary arts and wine studies programs. “We train current and future employees, which in turn helps our community’s local restaurant owners and stimulates the economy by putting people to work.”

For more information about the College of the Canyons culinary arts or wine studies programs, visit www.canyons.edu/Departments/CULARTS.



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  1. You can see this while driving on the 5. I always wondered who started it! Thanks!

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