GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A program at Lake Michigan College teaches students everything they need to know about the wine industry.

Michael Moyer, the director of wine and viticulture for the school near Benton Harbor, said it started teaching students about the basics of winemaking and fermentation about nine years ago. Now, it is offering a lecture-based winemaking course that’s part of the program online.

“This is an opportunity for people who may not be able to be here on campus on a regular basis to still get the good information that’s presented in the course,” Moyer said.

During the two-year associate degree program, students learn about everything from the vineyard to the cellar, including vineyard establishment, processing wine and the fermentation process.

“Basically from the ground all the way to the bottle,” Moyer said.

Moyer said a prerequisite for the program is “to have a love of wine and to want to be immersed in in production of it and enjoyment of it.”

“Students love it. They’re tasting all throughout the program, that is super important to help develop some of their palates,” he continued. “Some of them come in with great palates and a lot of experience already, but some are starting off with limited exposure to wine.”

The school has its own winery, Lake Michigan Vintners. The winery has a well-equipped small production facility, Moyer said, with some local distribution and a tasting room.

“It’s beautiful. It’s a gem for the Midwest, really. It’s unique in that we have one of the premier winemaking facilities in the country and it’s right here in the state of Michigan,” he said. “So we’re really proud of it.”

Students are equipped to go into a variety of careers connected to the wine industry, from tasting room management and hospitality to production and wholesale.

“Wine is a big industry, it’s a big part of our economy,” Moyer said, adding there’s several vineyards in northwest Michigan. “We can make tremendous wines here and … the word is getting out. We’re working on that.”

He said while local restaurants are quick to serve Michigan beer, they aren’t as quick to serve Michigan wine.

“We’re still working on that, we’re still working on bringing everybody on board,” he said. “We’re making some fantastic wines, wines that rival some of the great traditional wine producing regions in Europe.”

For more information about Lake Michigan College’s wine and viticulture program, go to