18th March, 2014 by Lauren Eads
Underage students studying for a degree in winemaking at the Napa Valley College in California may finally be able to taste their work, if a new bill is passed.
Up until now, students on winemaking or brewery courses have been unable to takes their produce as the legal drinking age in the US is 21.
The Assembly Bill 1989, introduced by Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, would allow students who are at least 18-years-old and enrolled in a course at the college to taste an alcoholic beverage without the fear of prosecution, according to a report by the napavalleyregister.com.
Napa Valley College’s Viticulture and Winery Technology Program offers students a one-year certificate or two-year Associate of Science degree in winemaking and currently around 8 students who are under the age of 21 placing them at a disadvantage, says course instructor Bryan Avila.
He said: “Here, you’re in the company of professionals. You’re learning to appreciate it for more than just a buzz. Any sign of intoxication, and you’re out. There’s nothing cool about drinking wine here.”
Students would be given spit cups during tastings and would not actually drink the wine.
Those opposing the bill have argued that the bill will give students an excuse to drink and get drunk.
Avila, who has taught winemaking courses at the college since 2008, said he has never had a student become intoxicated during class and that course teaches students to view alcohol from a completely different perspective.
Around 250 students enrol in the course each year – many older students who work for wineries or the hospitality industry.
The Napa Valley College features a classroom, laboratory buildings, vineyards and a teaching winery and released its first 2008 vintage in 2009.
The bill is expected to have its first committee hearing next week.