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9 California vineyard professionals earn master vigneron certification

Lake County Winegrape Commission's Master Vigneron Academy recently graduated its eighth certification class for vineyard managers and supervisors.

This year nine students received the master vigneron credential, the trade group announced Dec. 16. To date, 82 have completed the year-long Spanish-language program, gaining insight into many aspects of the wine industry and bringing valuable skills back to their employers.

The curriculum includes sessions on integrated canopy management, vineyard layout, planting stock, agricultural labor management, conflict resolution, vine balance, vineyard finances, wine industry economics, winegrape quality, and wine tasting. Students visit UC Davis facilities, the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, nursery operations, Foundation Plant Services, and wineries and vineyards across the region.

"The Lake County Winegrape Commission recognizes that what is often overlooked in sustainable farming is the human element," said Paul Zellman, educational programs consultant for the commission. "The Master Vigneron credential program addresses training needs of vineyard managers and supervisors and represents an investment in a critical part of sustainable farming - people."

The concept originated in 2012 with Randy Krag, former commission research and education chairman and a retired vineyard manager at Beckstoffer Vineyards.

"The Master Vigneron Academy connects our employees to a modern business environment. It creates a bond with the larger industry, and it gives them a perspective of their role in the larger purpose," said Krag.

A state marketing, research and education agency formed in 1991, the commission represents about 180 winegrape growers farming more than 9,500 acres of vineyards in Lake County.

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