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Queensland opening new doors in wine industry
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Queensland is digging deep to formulate and fund educational facilities that will enhance the wine industry. The latest “coup” is the opening this year of the Queensland College of Wine Tourism.
It’s all part of a bid to have Queensland classed as a major wine-producing State that can rival any in Australia.
From meagre beginnings, the Queensland wine industry now boasts 170 wineries in 10 wine-producing regions, and its export prowess keeps growing. The industry is worth an estimated $75 million a year.
The opening of the QCWT actually had its beginnings some time back.
“In 2000 Stanthorpe High School responded to requests from the local wine industry by introducing the Wine Tourism curriculum program,” said John Neville, QCWT director and former SHS principal.
He said the school’s capacity to develop and manage significant education and training programs contextualised within commercial business operations was well established. The agriculture faculty comprises the largest agricultural training facility of any Queensland secondary school with a diverse range of commercial enterprises, and the school’s commercial catering enterprise, ‘Class Catering’, sees hospitality students catering for numerous large functions every year in the Granite Belt.
Neville said the school established the successful commercial vineyard ‘Banca Ridge’ and the success of the Wine Tourism program could be measured by its winning the prestigious Education Queensland Showcase Award for Excellence in Innovation in 2005.
This led to the proposal by Stanthorpe State High School to establish a Wine Tourism training centre on the school campus in the Granite Belt as a lead centre for the provision of training from entry to Diploma level for the Queensland Wine Tourism industry.
Supported by the department of Education and the Arts and working collaboratively with the Queensland Wine Industry Association, Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE, Dalby Agricultural College, Queensland Department of Employment and Training, and Queensland Department of Wine Industry Development, the QCWT project was born.
Neville was seconded as project director for 18 months. A feasibility study was conducted upon which the training plan was predicated. Funding was sought and obtained from Commonwealth, State and Local Government. The young Queensland wine industry made and donated 18,000 bottles of wine. The University of Southern Queensland joined as the university partner and subsequently invested $1.7 million in wine science and post graduate laboratory facilities. The Gateway to the Wine Industry schools program was initiated, supported through Education Queensland by a full-time curriculum head, to replicate in a further six schools in wine regions the successful program pioneered by Stanthorpe High.
In April, the first stage of the Queensland College of Wine Tourism, a new $6 million training institute for the Queensland wine industry, opened for business.
The complex comprises a teaching winery, cellar door and café, interpretive centre and offices. By the end of 2006, this will be augmented by a hospitality training kitchen, seminar/function centre and wine science laboratories.
The college will operate as a commercial (not-for-profit) vineyard, winery, tourist centre, seminar and function centre servicing the local community and tourist trade.
“The facility will epitomize industry standards and all aspects developed with, and endorsed by, industry. This commercial operation will provide the context for the delivery of training. Training will deliver skills leading to national qualifications in the broad occupation areas of viticulture, wine processing, cellar door, tourism, hospitality and small business,” said Neville.
When the complex is completed it will provide a training institute for the wine industry for students at three levels:
Secondary – training in viticulture, wine processing, tourism & hospitality (Stanthorpe SHS and the 6 Gateway schools) TAFE – training in viticulture, wine processing, tourism & hospitality to Diploma level University – degree courses in Wine Science (commenced 2006) and Business (planned for 2007) These levels will be linked with articulation processes to provide an integrated career pathway for students.