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Cal Poly is working to expand its wine and viticulture department

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Making wine is a yearlong process. Pruning, harvesting, and fermenting certain grape varieties are all important to getting a bottle of wine on the shelves. But so is the underrated process of keeping up with alcoholic beverage and tax law regulations.

BOTTLED GOODNESS A regulatory compliance company is working with Cal Poly to expand its wine and viticulture department. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CALPOLYWINE.COM
  • Photo Courtesy Of Calpolywine.com
  • BOTTLED GOODNESS A regulatory compliance company is working with Cal Poly to expand its wine and viticulture department.

This side of the wine industry is being emphasized at Cal Poly as it partners with Compli to educate students about regulations. Compli was founded in San Luis Obispo County by Rachel Rey, a Cal Poly graduate herself.

"We get to be a part of this larger process for building the next generation of wine industry people," Rey said.

Compli works with more than 3,000 wineries, distilleries, wholesalers, and importers. The company provides a full spectrum of compliance services, information, and technology to producers, distributors, and importers of alcoholic beverages throughout the country. Compli can ensure that a winery is meeting the requirements from taxing the beverage to proper labeling of the bottle.

"Regulatory compliance is a critical part of the business that's not really attractive, but not having a clue of it could put your business at risk," Rey said.

The consulting business is not part of the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department. But it is helping the current curriculum grow by providing students with an internship and by helping to create a new center for wine and viticulture on campus.

The internship will give students a hands-on learning experience in the Compli office. They will learn to manage production, inventory, licensing for consumer trade outside of California, and federal label approvals for the Cal Poly-made wines—a fraction of the regulations.

"It's a one-year paid internship. Students will really benefit from our experienced staff and their guidance," Rey said.

Cal Poly will become one of seven universities in the country to have a commercial bonded winery on campus, with the help of Compli.

"Now, Cal Poly has a production winery in which the students can take physical possession of the wine and can be responsible for all sales of the Cal Poly wine," she said.

Cal Poly has had a pilot winery on campus for many years. The expansion will allow students to not only produce and research wines but also ensure that they are following all the regulatory aspects of commercial winemaking.

The new experiences will prepare students to directly enter the industry upon graduating.

"We were finally able to put this together this year. The dollars, the right faculty, and leadership came together; it's really exciting," Rey said.

For more information, visit the Cal Poly wine and viticulture department website.

Fast Facts

Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC) is celebrating the construction of its new state-of-the-art health center. The 26,000 square-foot campus located in Templeton began in December with a targeted completion date of early 2019. The Neenan Company is partnering with CHC for the design and construction of the new facility. CHC is a nonprofit network of federally qualified health centers serving all of San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties.

California Men's Colony (CMC) and New Life K9s are collaborating to provide a dog-training program in which inmates at the San Luis Obispo prison train dogs to become service animals for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After training, the dogs are offered, free of charge, to veterans throughout the Central Coast. On Dec. 15, CMC's first service dog, Rusty, graduated and was sent to the home of a veteran. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

Clarification: This article was changed to more clearly define the pilot winery that already operates on Cal Poly's campus, the expansion of the university's wine and viticulture department, and the number of bonded wineries that already exist at universities in the U.S.

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