Ethan Brown, a graduate of the Viticulture and Enology Program at Surry Community College, said recently the applied science he learned while at SCC is proving to be a beneficial foundation in the broader spectrum of fermentation and brewing science.
A senior at Appalachian State University, Brown grew up near Dobson and is working toward a chemistry degree with a concentration in fermentation science. After graduation, Brown said his plans are to continue studies at the graduate level in fermentation science at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.,, where he said there are research opportunities.
“I have always been interested in the science, and being involved in the science of it,” said Brown.
In fact, Brown appears to be carrying on tradition. He started wine-making at 19 years of age at his parent’s business, Olde Mill Vineyards, where he is still winemaker as time affords.
Between his studies at Appalachian and the demands of the applied-science end of the business, Brown said time especially gets tight when harvest time rolls around. Brown’s parents started the business while he was a student at SCC and opened the first tasting room in 2010, he said.
Brown’s grandfather, Jay Mosley, and aunt, Kim Atkins, were two of the early pioneer students in the SCC Viticulture and Enology program in 1998.
The 2012 graduate added “This is a family affair.”
He recalled what a rewarding feeling it was knowing that he planted some of the first grapes on the first SCC vineyard at the Dobson campus.
In two years he said he saw a lot of changes and growth. He said it is exciting to know the community college plans for growth with the new vineyard.
” I am looking forward to it, it is always interesting to see,” said Brown.
SCC recently purchased 48 acres for the development of the new vineyard.
Brown said opportunities in the academic and applied world of wine-making continue to open on the East Coast.
Though Brown said the East Coast industry deals with challenging environmental factors, he said understanding how to produce better wines in North Carolina and along East Coast is what he is up for doing, he said. Precipitation, humidity and the soil are all important aspects to any winemaker or vineyard, added Brown.
With all the challenges, the North Carolina wine industry is still producing quality wines, he said.
“The quality will continue to increase as we learn more about our region,” said the young winemaker.
“We have to find our niche and what works for us. The quality has been increasing as we learn about our environment and what makes good wines here. “
He said most of his former classmates are winemakers. Also, some are owners, some work in tasting rooms, and some in distribution. He said from his experience the SCC program has been a success.
Brown said “I would not have the knowledge I have now,” if he had not attended SCC. “It has really been beneficial for me.”
He is also a certified bee keeper getting his certification through the Forsyth County Beekeepers Association. He said his grandfather also helped get him started in beekeeping and called the hobby satisfying.
He said he likes the combination of sales in the area of wine and honey.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.