Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Archival News Release
This News Release is outdated and posted here for archival purposes only.​​​​​​​​​​​

September 10, 2014

Wine Studies Students Cultivate Professional Success

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 that a student can make. 

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

“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 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 student Victoria Waldorf, who, since leaving the college, has moved on to 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 College of the Canyons as 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 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 College of the Canyons, 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 businesses often sending their employees here 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.”

Follow the link for more information about the culinary arts and wine studies programs.