DOBSON — Surry Community College students returned from winter break to find a new face in their viticulture classes. Viticulture instructor Sarah Bowman of Thurmond has gotten off to a fantastic start, bringing a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience.
Bowman’s interest in viticulture began while enrolled in a university wine appreciation course. After receiving a B.S. in journalism in 2010 from Southern Illinois University, she quickly leaped into the specialized field of viticulture as a graduate student.
She received a M.S. in horticulture from Southern in 2013 where she is also a Ph.D. candidate in agricultural science. She worked and studied in the field of viticulture for 10 years, and throughout that time was involved in co-managing a vineyard, conducting workshops, and starting her own consulting business. She was also hired as the Illinois state viticulturist.
In her instruction at Surry, Bowman emphasizes the importance of understanding the biological and management systems that support wine grape production. She shares her knowledge and experience in a straightforward and approachable manner, and is thrilled to be educating and training individuals with the same curiosity and courage that first sparked her interest in viticulture.
One reason Bowman applied for the position at Surry was because she had previously attended a meeting of the Eastern section of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, and had an opportunity to tour Surry Community College and had been impressed with the faculty, students, and facilities at that time.
Emily Belcher, a student in the Viticulture and Enology program and who is also doing an internship, says she really appreciates how Bowman works alongside the students in producing the college’s wine sold as the Surry Cellars label.
“She is always teaching and demonstrating; everything she does is very hands-on,” Belcher said of Bowman’s rapport with students.
Bowman reflects the compliment back to the students. “It is so motivating to come to work every day and see the passion our students bring. They ask insightful questions and challenge me to give detailed answers,” she said.
Surry’s Viticulture and Enology program offers a degree, diploma and certificate options with tracks in viticulture, enology, and marketing. Surry offers additional viticulture and enology workshops during the year through the Corporate and Continuing Education department. To learn more about SCC’s program, visit www.surry.edu/wine.
Plans are in the works for the seventh annual Southeastern Grape & Wine Symposium that will be held at the college on Nov. 8. Follow the program on Facebook @ncviticulturecenter or Instagram @surrycellars.