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Donation from Waterloo Container helps FLCC students finish year-long winemaking project

It’s the time of year when Finger Lakes Community College students head to the Viticulture and Wine Center in Geneva to complete their final practicum. Using bottles donated by Waterloo Container, the students’ year-long project culminated in an array of Riesling, Chardonnay, Rosé, Red and White wines now ready to be sold and enjoyed.

Waterloo Container’s Special Projects Manager Mark C. Pitifer recently visited the center for the student filling event, where he sat down with Michael Penn, instructor of Viticulture and Enology at FLCC, to discuss the project and how packaging donations have played a pivotal role in making this year-long winemaking venture a success.

Related: THE PINTCAST: A look inside the bottle at Waterloo Container (podcast)

A true team effort

This year’s students formed team ‘Synthesis’ to complete the project. FLCC’s program takes a hands-on approach to teaching winemaking, along with traditional classroom instruction.

“We are the only department in the school that is also a functioning business since we do sell the wine,” said Penn. “As far as the bottles, the students do it all. They feed the bottles into the machine, one will be responsible for the corks, another will be labeling, others will be loading and offloading. It is just a complete team effort.”

Students go on field trips to local wineries to learn from experts and gain first-hand knowledge. In the past, students visited Waterloo Container’s manufacturing facility on state Route 414 in Waterloo to see how the wine packaging process unfolds.

“We couldn’t continue to do this each year without the donation of the bottles from Bill Lutz and Waterloo Container,” said Penn. “With their continued support, we can allocate money that would have gone towards buying bottles toward other student activities.”

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Support from community goes a long way

The college’s winemaking program currently consists of 45 students ranging from 20 to 70 years old. Students’ goals are as diverse as their ages, according to Penn.

“Students may look for a position in an already existing winery, while others make wine at home, and some pursue their own career in the global wine industry,” he said.

Penn concluded his chat with Pitifer on a note of gratitude and hope for the future.

“Having a program like this and a partner like Waterloo Container has been a critical piece of what makes this program thrive,” said Penn. “Finger Lakes wines are continuing to gain respect in the global wine market. This is exciting and highlights the benefit of programs like ours at FLCC. We are excited to see what is possible!”

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Where to buy student-made wine

Wines produced by the students will be sold at FLCC’s Viticulture and Wine Center at 100 Empire Drive in Geneva. They will also be offered at select local restaurants. To learn more about FLCC’s winemaking program, head to the college’s website.

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About Waterloo Container

Waterloo Container is a family-owned wine and beverage packaging supplier with over 40 years of experience in the wine packaging industry. They provide partnership through packaging with a ready-to-ship inventory of glass wine, spirit and craft bottles sourced both domestically and globally. They offer services like glass printing, shrink sleeve labeling and re-packaging as well as a wide selection of stock capsules and corks. Learn more on the company’s website.