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BC Wine Information Society Award helps viticulture student grow her education
Okanagan College Media Release

BC Wine Info Society Mar 2015The pursuit of a career in the wine industry just got a little sweeter for an Okanagan College student thanks to a bursary from the BC Wine Information Society, in recognition of her early achievements in the field. 

Kathleen McCaffrey, who is currently completing the Viticulture Certificate program at the College’s Penticton campus, is the recipient of the 2015 BC Wine Information Society Award, valued at $1,500. 

“I am so excited and grateful for this award,” says McCaffrey, who completed a degree in Business at Okanagan College before enrolling in the Viticulture program. “It’s a huge boost and will help with tuition for the next course I’m taking, which is focused on wine sales.”

“On behalf of the BC Wine Information Society, I would like to congratulate Kathleen McCaffrey on her accomplishments in the Viticulture program,” says Laura Kowalchuk, Manager B.C. Wine Information Centre, which is operated by the Society. 

“The wine industry is a key driver of our region’s economy and so we feel it’s hugely important to support students in the valley,” explains Kowalchuk. “We are so excited to see what students like Kathleen will accomplish as they jump into this industry and put their energy and creativity into elevating the profile of B.C. wine even further.”

The bursary is one of two annual awards sponsored by the BC Wine Information Society, which also made a $300,000 donation to the College last year to assist with the creation of a new Wine Sensory Centre at the Penticton campus. The new centre opened in fall of 2014 and has since become one of the key instructional hubs for the College’s Food, Wine, and Tourism programming.

“Food, Wine, and Tourism is about studying and celebrating the uniqueness of the Okanagan Valley and the people who make these industries a huge success,” says Jonathan Rouse, Director of Food, Wine and Tourism and Associate Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “We’re very grateful and excited that organizations like the BC Wine Information Society continue to support and work with us as we develop and deliver our programs. It makes the student experience that much more rewarding.”

McCaffrey credits the Okanagan’s buzzing wine industry and a trip to Italy last summer as the inspiration to delve deeper into the study of wine. She stomped grapes and worked in cellars while traveling through Tuscany and the Aosta Valley. The trip also enlightened McCaffrey to organic grape growing and winemaking techniques—an experience which she says amped up her appreciation for organic growers in the Okanagan.

“There are such exciting things happening in this region. I want to keep going with my education and learn the ins and outs of every job from field to glass,” McCaffrey notes.

The BC Wine Information Centre was the first VQA Wine Store in British Columbia. Today there are 21 stores across B.C. Operated by the BC Wine Information Society, profits are put back into the local community supporting the wine industry.  

"
We are a non-profit organization and every bottle sold benefits the community, be it through supporting student awards such as these or other projects. So people can feel good about buying wine here knowing that it’s having a positive impact locally,” says Kowalchuk.

Okanagan College’s Viticulture program offers a variety of courses focused on everything from the principles of grape growing and winemaking to vineyard management and equipment operation to wine sales and public relations. The program involves both classroom instruction and a work experience component at local vineyards. More information is available at okanagan.bc.ca/fwt.