Charlie Williams' wife, Dorothy, traveled from California to place the new vineyard’s first plant in the ground during a groundbreaking ceremony.
ROSEBURG, Oregon – On Tuesday, May 15, UCC officially welcomed the campus’ newest vineyard. Named in honor of Charlie Williams, a long-time wine industry and Southern Oregon Wine Institute (SOWI) supporter, the three-acre memorial vineyard will be a new teaching lab for Viticulture and Enology Program students starting this Fall.
Charlie’s Place has been a few years in the making. The UCC Board of Education approved its establishment in March 2017. Students over the past two academic years have been involved in bringing the vineyard to life. They helped plan the trellis, layout, and varieties. They also helped install the vineyard.
“This vineyard could not have been done without a lot community effort,” Andy Swan, the director of SOWI, said. “Along with the students, several industry partners went above and beyond to ensure Charlie was honored, and that students were given a living legacy.”
Over the past year, the foundation was laid to make the hill on the campus’ west side plant worthy. Irrigation was installed, fencing was erected, and rows to support new vines were established. Once the work was completed, Charlie’s wife, Dorothy, traveled from California to place the vineyard’s first plant in the ground during a groundbreaking ceremony.
“Charlie sure loved to dig in the dirt,” Dorothy said. “We arrived in the Umpqua Valley before it was a wine region, and we knew early on that Oregon was a prime spot. This would have made him very proud.”
Charlie worked for big names in the California wine industry; Robert Mondavi and Opus One Wineries. When he retired, the Williams’ bought land in the Umpqua Valley and began growing strong, insect-resistant root stock. They sold it nurseries, ensuring that a legacy of healthy vineyards would continue in Oregon.
UCC’s new vineyard is the recipient of some of that strong root stock. The three new varietal vines are grafted onto it. Viognier will be planted on the vineyard’s upper block. Syrah and Tempranillo will be planted on the lower block. The new additions will round out the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes already being grown at the campus.
“Having vineyards on site gives students real-world experience in all aspects of Viticulture and Enology,” Swan said. “From inception in the classroom and vineyard to wine sales in the tasting room, the more hands-on experience we can provide to students, the better their job prospects will be. Charlie’s Place will definitely help further student success.”
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
Coordinator, Associate Professor
Director, Southern Oregon Wine Institute