My wife Phyllis and I have tasted at hundreds of wineries in 18 states and 8 countries in our quest to enhance our wine enjoyment. But the one program that we have returned to multiple times is Vina Vita (Wine Life) University, the educational program of Kuhlman Cellars.
The team of Kuhlman Cellars, co-founder Chris Cobb, winemaker/educator Bénédicte Rhyne, Vineyard Director/Master Gardner Diane Cobb, and Marketing Director/Sommelier Jennifer Beckmann, expanded on the winery’s “by appointment” wine and food pairings education focus in late summer 2016 to include classroom experiences through Vina Vita University.
“Vina Vita University is an extension of our philosophy to make wine more enjoyable in the most approachable and relatable way possible,” Jennifer explains. “The classroom experience allows us to delve more deeply into topics that are relevant to our wine experience in a longer and more focused setting.”
The 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Sunday morning Vina Vita University classes are conducted for 24-32 participants at a $30-$50 cost in the Kuhlman Cellars Winegarden building at the winery between Stonewall and Hye. Registration for the classes is offered first to Kuhlman Cellars Vina Vita Wine Club members, but non-members may also register if a class is not sold out to members. Check the Events page on the website to register.
“Since we prefer to have an experiential, ‘hands-on’ approach to learning, the classes feature lectures, small-bite food, physical activity in the vineyard or winery, and sensory participation with vineyard/winemaking equipment depending on the subject,” Jennifer explained.
Including us, as participants, we have enjoyed the fact that there are always a minimum of three wines to be experienced. Those wines often include bottles not produced from Kuhlman Cellars fruit to offer a diverse example of the topic.
The seven classes held through December 2017 have focused separately on grape growing and expectations, blending, wine and food pairing, and identifying wine faults, flaws, and imbalances.
About 30% of Vina Vita University participants have attended multiple classes. Oral and written compliments and requests for the program to expand to more topics have the Kuhlman Cellars team already planning 2018 classes for January 28 and March 4.
Jennifer noted that Kuhlman Cellars sporadically scheduled classes in the past when the busy club pick-up, harvest and event schedules allowed. She said the winery team wants to consistently schedule Vina Vita University programs every other month.
And that “every other month” schedule is one Phyllis and I will be adding to our Texas Wine Country travel calendar in our continuing quest to enhance our wine enjoyment.