Doffo Winery in Temecula, California is helping prepare the next generation of vintners by partnering with its local school district on a program that includes vineyard management and wine production.
In 2018, what started as an over-the-fence conversation between Doffo CEO and winemaker Damian Doffo and his neighbor Lou Randall, then Assistant Principal at Orange Vista High School in neighboring Perris, California, turned into a program aimed at introducing a younger generation to hands-on farming, chemistry, and biology through real work in a vineyard. OVHS soon became home to 980 vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, donated by Wonderful Nurseries, and planted by students and faculty that May.
The Doffo program incorporates many different technical and educational components that work in tandem. From the growing and maintenance of the vines through the viticulture program, to a video production program that documents the entire life of a grape from seed to bottle, to the engineering and manufacturing program that gets students certified with the FAA Part 107 to operate drones in the vineyard, to the graphics and design program, which is running a design competition for the bottle label, students are getting a hands-on look at everything that goes into producing a finished bottle of wine.
The students in the program have already produced their first vintage, which Doffo plans to release in August. One hundred cases of the wine will be bottled in July.
The first vintage was harvested in 2020, produced at Doffo, and has spent the past 18 months maturing in barrel at the winery.
Doffo said he believed the wine is nearly ready to bottle, and will release the limited-edition wine for sale this summer, with a portion of proceeds going back to the school. They will also host a fundraising gala for the program on Saturday, Aug. 6.
“2022 marks Doffo Winery’s 25th Anniversary, so the timing to launch this wine that has become such a special project to our family feels even more exciting,” said Damian. “The concept of legacy is very important to us at Doffo. To be able to spark interest in agriculture and the many opportunities out there in viticulture and winemaking through this partnership for the next generation is extremely rewarding.”