While most college kids could be looked down upon for being total wine-os, John Boyer, Bruce Zoecklein and Yvan Beliveau hope to insire wine-os in their classes.
Boyer has been teaching the geography of wine class every spring semester for more than a decade, and in this time he has seen the Virginia wine industry grow.
"Wine is, first and foremost, from a place, and it's named as such. When you talk about a wine, it's, 'I drink a Bordeaux or a Chianti.' We so inherently tie a wine to its location or origin, because wine is an expression of place," said Boyer.
Boyer started the class from a researcher's point of view, looking at the abstract concepts of wine making and wine history, but over the years has turned the class to a more practical approach, helping students to understand the consumer side of wines.
"More and more we're focused on the nuts and bolts. I want people when they exit this semester to be comfortable opening wine, pouring wine, and talking about wine," Boyer said.
The course is only offered in during the spring semester, and has 600 seats. While Boyer would like to start taking the class on sponsored wine tastings or vineyard trips, the size of the class makes that impossible. However, he still encourages students to do these trips on their own on a weekend or over spring break for the experience.
"The thing that makes me most proud is having former students from years past contact me and ask me about wine," he said. "But the best compliments I've gotten are students who've just gotten out of the class and say, 'Boyer, I just want to thank you. I sat down with my family and I knew enough about wine to have a conversation with my parents.'"
Boyer sees wine as a rite of passage in society because it differs from the mass consumption of beer and is considered a beverage of moderation and sophistication. For him, wine is not just a drink, but a language of high society that is useful to learn, both for family events, and for a student's future interaction in business.
Also, Bruce Zoecklein, who is also the state oenologist, or wine expert, at Virginia Tech, has taught the geography of wine class in the food science and technology department for the past 12 years.