Great and credible information with a fresh approach about Portuguese and Spanish wine and food. Not to mention, fantastic info about new trends as well as age-old traditions from the vibrant Iberian peninsula.
Bento Amaral https://www.ivdp.pt/

This isn’t Your Mother’s Spanish Winery! Children get a Crash Course in Winemaking

interview1.jpg

For those of you who have stuck by us over the past three years, you may have struggled with me as I attempted to maneuver my way through the Spanish educational system. For one year, I eagerly taught English to five year olds in a small Catholic school in Barcelona before joining Catavino full-time. Renowned for its alternative education, the school gained its notoriety based on a methodology it employed called, the Theory of Multiple Intelligence, which also happened to be the main crux behind my master’s thesis in education. Created by Howard Gardner, the theory states that we as humans have a wide range of abilities, or intelligences, that are neither utilized nor nurtured. But through interactive and dynamic learning, where all intelligences are acted upon, we have the ability to truly excel and reach our highest potential.

Let’s bring this down to layman’s terms. Old school methodology that you and I experienced throughout our youth was based on one directional learning. Put another way, your traditional static website, which simply provides information without dialogue. Basically your “I’m the expert, so you must believe what I say” principle. While, the Multiple Intelligence Theory says that learning needs to be hand’s on, interactive, dynamic and conversational – translating to web 2.0 or social networking. Learning now becomes a relationship between the student and the material, where the student can play and manipulate the information.

A Day of Learning

Now, although the school was an administrative disaster, their intentions were honorable, and the children were able to learn incredible lessons, like the art of winemaking. For two months, these children were immersed in lessons ranging from math (10 grapes minus 6 grapes) to music (create a song from stomping on grapes), which also included a tour of Bodegas Torres. And after drawing, creating, picking and eating grapes for eight weeks, they could recite the process of winemaking, share their experiences tasting food and wine, and give their overall opinions on what quality means. For me, the experience was absolutely mind-blowing, and convinced me, beyond a doubt, that children need to appreciate winemaking from an early age.

Wineries across Spain are receptive to teaching children about winemaking, unlike many other countries; however, I was floored when I received an email a few weeks ago promoting a new interactive program to teach children about wine, so that in the future, they may become more responsible and educated consumers. What a concept (enter sarcasm here)! Located in the dead center of Spain, Bodegas Castiblanque is piloting a viticultural program with the support of the Castile La Mancha Educational Board to actively educate children between the ages of 6 and 12 on the art of winemaking. But we’re not talking a little tour of the winery and a general description of the process, Bodegas Castiblanque has raised the bar in winemaking pedagogy by including their own literature on winemaking, interactive workshops, and two trained guides dressed as grapes to promote interactive learning. How cool is this!

Having voiced my frustrations across the Internet, alongside Dr. Vino and Dr. Debs, on issues such as prohibiting children into wineries and restricting the conversation of wine in schools, I am ecstatic to bring you an alternative perspective. What I’ve included in this post is an interview with Miquel Angel Castiblanque, who happens to not only be the founder of Bodegas Castiblanque, but also the innovator behind this new interactive winemaking educational program.

Interview with Miguel Angel Castiblanque

1. What Influenced you to create an interactive and dynamic program to educate children about winemaking?

We have found that not only Castilla-La Mancha (our wine region), but Spain in general, is suffering from a lack of wine culture, despite the fact that we have more land under vine in the world. And because the normal age for an individual to enter the world of wine in Spain is between 30-35, we felt that this was a serious error that needed to be changed.

Learning about wine at this age [as an adult] is inappropriate. In Spain, it is traditionally an obligation made in one’s work place (namely to know just enough to defend your choice of wine to pair with your food); so when you arrive home, taking off your suit and tie to relax, the last thing your going to think about is wine. Additionally, in your mid-thirties, there is a motivation to learn about wine as a way to climb the social ladder, an opportunity to be fashionable and trendy because you “know something about wine”. When you acquire knowledge on these grounds, your knowledge about wine is not only reduced, it is superficial because you’re placing greater importance on manner in which your learning it. Moreover, the way in which we learn as adults is very targeted, based on our prejudices we’ve acquired beforehand.

However, beginning at age six, children have a very innocent and authentic way of learning. At this age, they are virtually sponges, capable of absorbing information rapidly because they see it as a game. Therefore, from the moment when we begin to talk about the culture of wine, we ensure to make two points very clear: how to cultivate a healthy relationship between food and wine, and how to consume wine in a responsible and moderate manner when they’ve reached the appropriate age.

This is the reason why we want to plant the seed now. Taught by specially trained teachers by the Castile-La Mancha government, children are learning invaluable lessons through material adapted for easy comprehension. In addition, we have created two characters – the white grape, Blanquita Castilblanque, and the red grape, Negrita Castiblanque) who guide and teach children through play about the winemaking process from the vine to the glass. These characters guide children through educational workshops to deepen their understanding of the process by tasting different grapes, pressing grapes to obtain the resulting juice. Then once the children have tasted the ‘mosto’ or juice, we begin to educate them on the process of fermentation.

This entire project is based on the notion to: NOT BAN (wine education), BUT EDUCATE!

2. Bodegas across Spain have incorporated programs for children. Why do you feel that Spain, as a country, is so open to educating young children about winemaking?

First of all, we have a social and cultural responsibility. Spain is a country that produces wine, and throughout our history, wine has always been present in our lives. Wine is cultural and a part of our heritage. Therefore, it should continue to be passed on for generations to come.

Moreover, we must not forget that wine consumption has declined over the last decade and that our children are the future consumers. Therefore, we have an important responsibility to adequately convey this cultural and gastronomic heritage, not to mention the economic importance it represents in a wine producing country. The quality and responsibility for our future consumer depends on our work as an educator in the present day.

3. It has been said that there is a correlation between children learning about wine and their attitude towards alcohol later as an adult. What are your thoughts about this?

It is essential to properly convey the message in a clear and concise manner without a message of fear. On the contrary, what is so exciting about our efforts to teach these children is that it [educating about wine] can be exciting and fun. Wine like food is healthy as long as you consume it appropriately and in moderation. And just like any other food you ingest, it is beneficial as long as it is in proportion.

Wine as a cultural element:

Wine is unique and exciting, because it changes from year to year, depending on the influence from the winemaker and the viticulturists, who continually look towards the sky, as there is always a chance for uncontrollable meteorological misfortunes.

Wine is distinctly alive, changing from moment to moment, and is influenced not only by the state of mind of the person drinking it, but also the company and the concrete circumstances of both time and place.

Assuming the children adopt the lessons we’re trying to teach them, they will most likely have a change in attitude towards alcohol when they reach a mature age. But what is most probable to occur, is that at the very least, we will have created a consumer of high quality and accountability.

4. What do you feel children gain from visiting your bodega and learning about winemaking?

Our intention is simply to properly educate children, in order to create a quality consumer in the future who knows how to enjoy and appreciate wine.

For example, when we teach them how to taste the must (grape juice), we are helping them decide if what they are drinking is good enough for them to consume. Put another way, if you see a little mold on top of a piece of a bread, you don’t eat it. Likewise, we want children to understand the very minimum requirements to enjoy a glass of wine, such as the temperature it should be served, that one glass is more than adequate, etc.

If these children look back at their experience at Bodegas Castiblanque with fondness and warm memories, we feel as if we have succeeded.

5.What advice do you have for those who view a winery as a sacred space for adults, not children?

On one hand, it is the responsibility of those who live in the world of wine to go out and educate others on how to love and respect wine, both from a cultural and from a nutrition standpoint. From the tangible aspects (fermented grape juice) to the intangible aspects (metaphysics of wine, emotions surrounding wine), education should be comprehensive to nurture a responsible and discerning consumer.

However, we must not stray from the reality, because this project should not be another differentiating factor between wineries who value training and wine tourism. In our particular case, when a family with children visits our winery, we have found that by educating both children and adults, learning becomes more didactic and dynamic.

Thank you Miquel Angel for your time and effort in creating a program that I can only hope will act like a model for others to follow.

Do you stand? Would you allow your child to take field trips to a winery? Would you permit your six year old to partake in pressing grapes and analyzing grape juice? Do you feel that these lessons can alter the way in which we approach wine as an adult? Where does your state or country stand on teaching children about wine?

Cheers,
Gabriella

For more information, please contact the winery at:

Bodegas y Viñedos Castiblanque
C/ Isaac Peral, 19
13610 Campo de Criptana
Ciudad Real (Spain)
Tlf.: +34 926 58 91 47,
Fax: +34 926 58 91 48
info@bodegascastiblanque.com
www.castiblanque.com

  • RichardA

    I have concerns about this type of wine education for children. Primarily, I feel that it could increase the number of young alcoholics. One study has shown that over 40% of people who begin drinking before age 15 will develop alcohol abuse/dependence at some time in their lives. Have there been any studies done on the effects of such educational programs on children and alcoholism? Or is this untested waters? First, with the grape "characters" and such, you are making wine more fun and attractive to children. Which would seem to me to make it more enticing to children. Look at all of the uproar over past ads for alcohol which have been accused of targeting children and teens. i.e. wine coolers. Such ads did cause children/teens to try the alcoholic drinks because they seemed fun and cool. Second, how effective would be the message to the children during these programs against alcohol abuse? It would seem that parent involvement would be crucial. Otherwise the message would not be reinforced and become far less effective. Third, there are going to be children, no matter how effective the message, who won't listen. They will be the ones possibly abusing alcohol. Could this not lead to earlier alcohol abuse, at least in some children? It is a noble idea, to educate children about wine in a positive way, but I think there are potential harms that need to be addressed first. That would entail: 1) Any studies done in this area; 2) What safeguards exist in the program; 3) What is the parent involvement.

  • Pingback: sk-rt.com

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    I have concerns about this type of wine education for children. Primarily, I feel that it could increase the number of young alcoholics. One study has shown that over 40% of people who begin drinking before age 15 will develop alcohol abuse/dependence at some time in their lives.

    Have there been any studies done on the effects of such educational programs on children and alcoholism? Or is this untested waters?

    First, with the grape “characters” and such, you are making wine more fun and attractive to children. Which would seem to me to make it more enticing to children. Look at all of the uproar over past ads for alcohol which have been accused of targeting children and teens. i.e. wine coolers. Such ads did cause children/teens to try the alcoholic drinks because they seemed fun and cool.

    Second, how effective would be the message to the children during these programs against alcohol abuse? It would seem that parent involvement would be crucial. Otherwise the message would not be reinforced and become far less effective.

    Third, there are going to be children, no matter how effective the message, who won’t listen. They will be the ones possibly abusing alcohol. Could this not lead to earlier alcohol abuse, at least in some children?

    It is a noble idea, to educate children about wine in a positive way, but I think there are potential harms that need to be addressed first. That would entail: 1) Any studies done in this area; 2) What safeguards exist in the program; 3) What is the parent involvement.

  • Ryan

    I personally doubt that this would lead to alcoholism in children.There are far to many other reasons that children, or for that matter adults, turn to alcohol. Teaching a child about a substance that when not abused enhances life, is great in my opinion. This type of education can help children to learn about alcohol and drinking away from frat house parties and beer bongs. Our demonization of alcohol and drinking in america I believe is far more harmful and makes alcohol something that many people including myself remained ignorant about into adulthood. Alcohol abuse does not come from education, the same claim that people make about sex education. Sex ed does not lead to more sex, just better educated people when they are first confronted with it. My two cents

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    I personally doubt that this would lead to alcoholism in children.There are far to many other reasons that children, or for that matter adults, turn to alcohol. Teaching a child about a substance that when not abused enhances life, is great in my opinion. This type of education can help children to learn about alcohol and drinking away from frat house parties and beer bongs.

    Our demonization of alcohol and drinking in america I believe is far more harmful and makes alcohol something that many people including myself remained ignorant about into adulthood. Alcohol abuse does not come from education, the same claim that people make about sex education. Sex ed does not lead to more sex, just better educated people when they are first confronted with it.

    My two cents

  • Jeff

    Gabriella, Great post. You've really been bringing your "A" game this week. I think it's pretty empirical that kids that are raised around responsible consumption and respect of wine (and alcohol) grow up to be just fine without the spector of the bogeyman called alcoholism. You know how people say that the best thing a Dad can do for his children is love their mother? Same for wine and alcohol, the best thing parents can do is be respectful and place alcohol in its proper context. Kids will be less inclined to binge drink in their teens and early twenties because it's not a big deal. Good post, Jeff

  • http://www.goodgrape.com Jeff

    Gabriella,

    Great post. You’ve really been bringing your “A” game this week.

    I think it’s pretty empirical that kids that are raised around responsible consumption and respect of wine (and alcohol) grow up to be just fine without the spector of the bogeyman called alcoholism.

    You know how people say that the best thing a Dad can do for his children is love their mother? Same for wine and alcohol, the best thing parents can do is be respectful and place alcohol in its proper context. Kids will be less inclined to binge drink in their teens and early twenties because it’s not a big deal.

    Good post,

    Jeff

  • RichardA

    I did a little more research on these issues. I think these educational programs may have different effects in different countries. Many Europeans countries have far more of an overall wine culture than the U.S. And it is that overall wine culture that might help such educational programs be more effective. In places without such a wine culture, like the U.S., I do see that the program could cause negative problems. "In sum, Spain along with other Southern European countries allows its youth early access to alcoholic beverages without the concomitant problems of rowdy behavior, vandalism, and drunk driving that Americans typically associate with youth drinking." —Pittman, D.J., "Cross Cultural Aspects of Drinking, Alcohol Abuse, and Alcoholism," pp. 1-5 in Waterhouse, A.L., and Rantz, J.M., eds., Wine in Context: Nutrition, Physiology, Policy (Proceedings of the Symposium on Wine & Health 1996), American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Davis, CA, 1996, p. 4. "In Italy, in contrast to America, drinking is institutionalized as part of family life and dietary and religious custom; alcohol (wine) is introduced early in life, within the context of the family, and as a traditional accompaniment to meals and a healthful way of enhancing the diet. Drinking is not, as it is in America, associated with transformation of status from adolescence to adulthood; alcohol use is not an illicit activity for Italian youth; and heavy, consistent use of alcohol in Italy does not carry with it the same `problem' connotation that it does in America. Such an approach to the socialization of alcohol use should make it less likely in Italy than in America that drinking will be learned as a way of trying to solve personal problems or of coping with inadequacy and failure." —Jessor, R., et al., "Perceived Opportunity, Alienation, and Drinking Behavior Among Italian and American Youth," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1970, Vol. 15, 215-222 (quote pp. 215-216). This is an interesting set of factors for creating a better alcohol culture. "There are five conditions that cross-cultural researchers have found to be correlated in most societies with nonabusive drinking practices and low rates of alcoholism…: Group drinking is clearly differentiated from drunkenness and associated with ritualistic or religious celebrations. Drinking is associated with eating, preferably ritualistic feasting. Both sexes and several generations are included in the drinking situation, whether all drink or not. Drinking is divorced from the individual's effort to escape personal anxiety or difficult (intolerable) social situations…. Inappropriate behavior when drinking (aggression, violence, overt sexuality) is absolutely disapproved, and protection against such behavior is offered by the `sober' or the less intoxicated. This general acceptance of a concept of restraint usually indicates that drinking is only one of many activities, that it carries a relatively low level of emotionalism, and that it is not associated with a male or female `rite of passage' or sense of superiority." Zinberg, N.E., "Alcohol Addiction: Toward a More Comprehensive Definition," pp. 97-127 in Bean, M.H., and Zinberg, N.E., eds., Dynamic Approaches to the Understanding and Treatment of Alcoholism, Free Press, New York, 1981, p. 110. Until the American culture changes significantly in its approach to alcohol, I do not believe wine education programs for children would work here. Such programs could lack reinforcement at home and in the society at large. There is not that nation-wide wine culture to provide support to such educational programs.

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    I did a little more research on these issues.

    I think these educational programs may have different effects in different countries. Many Europeans countries have far more of an overall wine culture than the U.S. And it is that overall wine culture that might help such educational programs be more effective. In places without such a wine culture, like the U.S., I do see that the program could cause negative problems.

    “In sum, Spain along with other Southern European countries allows its youth early access to alcoholic beverages without the concomitant problems of rowdy behavior, vandalism, and drunk driving that Americans typically associate with youth drinking.” —Pittman, D.J., “Cross Cultural Aspects of Drinking, Alcohol Abuse, and Alcoholism,” pp. 1-5 in Waterhouse, A.L., and Rantz, J.M., eds., Wine in Context: Nutrition, Physiology, Policy (Proceedings of the Symposium on Wine & Health 1996), American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Davis, CA, 1996, p. 4.

    “In Italy, in contrast to America, drinking is institutionalized as part of family life and dietary and religious custom; alcohol (wine) is introduced early in life, within the context of the family, and as a traditional accompaniment to meals and a healthful way of enhancing the diet. Drinking is not, as it is in America, associated with transformation of status from adolescence to adulthood; alcohol use is not an illicit activity for Italian youth; and heavy, consistent use of alcohol in Italy does not carry with it the same `problem’ connotation that it does in America. Such an approach to the socialization of alcohol use should make it less likely in Italy than in America that drinking will be learned as a way of trying to solve personal problems or of coping with inadequacy and failure.” —Jessor, R., et al., “Perceived Opportunity, Alienation, and Drinking Behavior Among Italian and American Youth,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1970, Vol. 15, 215-222 (quote pp. 215-216).

    This is an interesting set of factors for creating a better alcohol culture.

    “There are five conditions that cross-cultural researchers have found to be correlated in most societies with nonabusive drinking practices and low rates of alcoholism…:

    Group drinking is clearly differentiated from drunkenness and associated with ritualistic or religious celebrations.
    Drinking is associated with eating, preferably ritualistic feasting.
    Both sexes and several generations are included in the drinking situation, whether all drink or not.
    Drinking is divorced from the individual’s effort to escape personal anxiety or difficult (intolerable) social situations….
    Inappropriate behavior when drinking (aggression, violence, overt sexuality) is absolutely disapproved, and protection against such behavior is offered by the `sober’ or the less intoxicated. This general acceptance of a concept of restraint usually indicates that drinking is only one of many activities, that it carries a relatively low level of emotionalism, and that it is not associated with a male or female `rite of passage’ or sense of superiority.”
    Zinberg, N.E., “Alcohol Addiction: Toward a More Comprehensive Definition,” pp. 97-127 in Bean, M.H., and Zinberg, N.E., eds., Dynamic Approaches to the Understanding and Treatment of Alcoholism, Free Press, New York, 1981, p. 110.

    Until the American culture changes significantly in its approach to alcohol, I do not believe wine education programs for children would work here. Such programs could lack reinforcement at home and in the society at large. There is not that nation-wide wine culture to provide support to such educational programs.

  • Gabriella

    Richard, First of all, thank you for taking so much time and consideration with your thoughts. You obviously have a lot of passion behind your beliefs and I honor you for bringing them to the table, but here are my thoughts on your points: Point 1: "First, with the grape “characters” and such, you are making wine more fun and attractive to children. Which would seem to me to make it more enticing to children." Don't we want wine to be enticing? Don't we want our children to be as excited about wine as we are? We're not excited about it because it makes us stupidly drunk when consumed in large quantities. We love it because of everything that makes wine the beautiful,sensuous and mysterious beverage it is. It's life in a bottle, ever changing and evolving. Wouldn't we want to support that mindset, instead of allowing children to remain ignorant, discovering wine only as a means to an end? Point 2: "Second, how effective would be the message to the children during these programs against alcohol abuse? It would seem that parent involvement would be crucial." I couldn't agree with you more that parent involvement is crucial. It absolutely is, but part of breaking the cycle of seeing wine as a demon drink is by educating both parents and children about the process and tradition of winemaking. Because we don't have a wine culture in the US reaching back centuries doesn't mean that we can't educate now using the knowledge, resources and tools we have at our fingertips. If we ignore wine education, like we did for years with sex education, we are keeping the blinders on allowing children to discover it on their own terms. Point 3: "Third, there are going to be children, no matter how effective the message, who won’t listen. They will be the ones possibly abusing alcohol. Could this not lead to earlier alcohol abuse, at least in some children?" There are kids who go through sex education and still refuse to use condoms. My parents, knee deep in alcohol addiction, suggested that I don't drink, yet I have a wine business. Humans will listen to whatever suits them. It is not our job to predict what they will and won't follow through with as educators. The only possible outcome we can hope for is that they have the best information available at their fingertips. Hence, for me, this means that I have provided them with fabulous information about how wonderful wine can be, just as much as I've provided them with the tools to be responsible with that information. Point 4: "Until the American culture changes significantly in its approach to alcohol, I do not believe wine education programs for children would work here. Such programs could lack reinforcement at home and in the society at large. There is not that nation-wide wine culture to provide support to such educational programs." I agree wholeheartedly that America has a long way to go, but I don't think that means we shouldn't start education on the topic now. By talking about winemaking in science class, the history of winemaking in history class, distinguishing between good and bad flavors, etc. we are giving solid tools to understand wine as a whole. There is a way to chat about wine in a culturally relevant manner. Maybe we can't traipse through wineries with dancing grapes, just like we can't have Brazil's scantily clothed host for children's programs, but we can speak about wine in a culturally appropriate way. Richard, I think what is most important to me is to remember that many of us had warm memories of our parents drinking wine. Even though my parents abused it, they also instilled warm and genuine memories of laughter and joy associate with wine. If we don't provide children a way to start the conversation, it remains taboo. Why not provide a strong loving foundation now, so that when the time comes for them to try it, it's not scary or off-limits, but curious and welcoming?

  • Janelle

    Great article Gabriella and the education program by Bodegas Castiblanque sounds interesting, educational and fun. I wanted to join in on the debate with a few of my own comments on the subject. 1. Culture As an American who has lived the last 7 years in Spain amongst Spaniards I feel I can say I know both American and Spanish cultures quite well. I can see that wine making education would be a hard sell in many US school districts, although not sure how it is handled in California since I have never been there. (any Californians have comments?) In Spain, wine (or beer) is rarely seen as a taboo thing. No one even thinks twice about if they should order wine during a business lunch. Normally they do! Wine in moderation is very much a part of the psyche in Spain. Its is classified as a food, not in a list with other alcoholic drinks. You don't need a special permit to buy it. A 16 year old in a restaurant will have no problems from the waitstaff when ordering wine. The age to enter a bar and order an alcoholic drink is 18, which is a much more socially responsible law than 21 in my opinion. Since wine is never prohibited by the culture, its never seen as something that should be desired becaue its hard to get. And as Sr. Castiblanque says, wine is part of the culture in Spain. So its important for children to learn about it. I know that because of the alcohol stigma in the US it would be difficult to get the parents and school boards to agree to something like this 2. Business This point has not been addressed and I think one of the main ideas behind educating children about wines in Spain is to interest them in possible career choices. Wine is an important business in Spain, and so what better way to interest people in wine and convert them into future winemakers to continue the business in the future. In Minnesota where I am from, winemaking is more of a curiosity than anything else, not a future career choice. When I was young I learned about local businesses and career choices which were available locally. Therefore I never learned about grape growing or wine, but I did see how maple syrup is made, how wild rice is harvested, and learned other things that were important for living in my northern region, like cold weather survival techniques, and nature conservation. I think the main problem for this in the US is that alcohol is a problematic subject and people may not openly welcome wine education for their children. Yes, if you want to change something in a culture, you start with the kids, but how can you even begin teach children when their parents and culture don't allow it?

  • RichardA

    Gabriella: Point 1: I know the issues we have had in the US over "characters" such as Joe Camel, which attracted children to smoking. It made smoking seem fun so that over rode the good sense of the children. My worry is that grape characters could become the focal point of the attention of children, attracting them to wine, but the children might ignore then dangers. Sure, it would be good for children to have a positive image of wine. But we also need to ensure that positivity is tempered with the proper cautions. Even adults can fall for a clever ad that attracts their attention, ignoring the potential dangers/. Point 2: As we agree parent involvement is crucial, then I feel that any such wine education for children should include parental involvement. We can't just educate the children if their parents are not going to reinforce matters. As an aside, how would the school handler parents who did not want their children exposed to wine education? I know that would happen in the U.S. It probably would not be an issue in Europe. Point 3: So it seems you agree that there is at least a potential harm to some children who won't listen to the message. So, how do we quantify that harm? Is that harm greater than the potential gain? How can we minimize the harm? I am not opposed the basic idea of wine education for children. I just think it needs to be better studied to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms. Especially in the U.S. that lacks an established wine culture. I think the chance of harm in the U.S. is greater than ijn Europe. Point 4: As I said in Point 3, I think more study needs to go into the subject in the U.S. There are certainly things that can be done, but care must be taken to minimize potential harm. Gabriella, I agree with your basic ideas to trying to create a better wine culture and educate children not to fear wine. But I think there are some valid concerns about potential harms to children if the educational programs are not properly constructed. And without parental involvement, I can see some potential pitfalls. Young children are impressionable and don't always use common sense. At the very least, they need positive reinforcement at home. Consider high school kids in the U.S. They all hear the dangers of drinking and driving. They see the horrific videos in school. They see the newspapers every year of kids dying in car accidents because of drinking and driving. They are certainly of an age to understand the dangers. Yet so many of them ignore those dangers and do it anyways. Can we expect grade school students to be more responsible? I don't think so. Maybe I am just over cautious. But I do feel there is a real potential harm that needs to be considered in any such wine education program for children. Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Richard,

    First of all, thank you for taking so much time and consideration with your thoughts. You obviously have a lot of passion behind your beliefs and I honor you for bringing them to the table, but here are my thoughts on your points:

    Point 1: “First, with the grape “characters” and such, you are making wine more fun and attractive to children. Which would seem to me to make it more enticing to children.”

    Don’t we want wine to be enticing? Don’t we want our children to be as excited about wine as we are? We’re not excited about it because it makes us stupidly drunk when consumed in large quantities. We love it because of everything that makes wine the beautiful,sensuous and mysterious beverage it is. It’s life in a bottle, ever changing and evolving. Wouldn’t we want to support that mindset, instead of allowing children to remain ignorant, discovering wine only as a means to an end?

    Point 2: “Second, how effective would be the message to the children during these programs against alcohol abuse? It would seem that parent involvement would be crucial.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more that parent involvement is crucial. It absolutely is, but part of breaking the cycle of seeing wine as a demon drink is by educating both parents and children about the process and tradition of winemaking. Because we don’t have a wine culture in the US reaching back centuries doesn’t mean that we can’t educate now using the knowledge, resources and tools we have at our fingertips. If we ignore wine education, like we did for years with sex education, we are keeping the blinders on allowing children to discover it on their own terms.

    Point 3: “Third, there are going to be children, no matter how effective the message, who won’t listen. They will be the ones possibly abusing alcohol. Could this not lead to earlier alcohol abuse, at least in some children?”

    There are kids who go through sex education and still refuse to use condoms. My parents, knee deep in alcohol addiction, suggested that I don’t drink, yet I have a wine business. Humans will listen to whatever suits them. It is not our job to predict what they will and won’t follow through with as educators. The only possible outcome we can hope for is that they have the best information available at their fingertips. Hence, for me, this means that I have provided them with fabulous information about how wonderful wine can be, just as much as I’ve provided them with the tools to be responsible with that information.

    Point 4: “Until the American culture changes significantly in its approach to alcohol, I do not believe wine education programs for children would work here. Such programs could lack reinforcement at home and in the society at large. There is not that nation-wide wine culture to provide support to such educational programs.”

    I agree wholeheartedly that America has a long way to go, but I don’t think that means we shouldn’t start education on the topic now. By talking about winemaking in science class, the history of winemaking in history class, distinguishing between good and bad flavors, etc. we are giving solid tools to understand wine as a whole. There is a way to chat about wine in a culturally relevant manner. Maybe we can’t traipse through wineries with dancing grapes, just like we can’t have Brazil’s scantily clothed host for children’s programs, but we can speak about wine in a culturally appropriate way.

    Richard, I think what is most important to me is to remember that many of us had warm memories of our parents drinking wine. Even though my parents abused it, they also instilled warm and genuine memories of laughter and joy associate with wine. If we don’t provide children a way to start the conversation, it remains taboo. Why not provide a strong loving foundation now, so that when the time comes for them to try it, it’s not scary or off-limits, but curious and welcoming?

  • http://www.tapastalk.com Janelle

    Great article Gabriella and the education program by Bodegas Castiblanque sounds interesting, educational and fun.
    I wanted to join in on the debate with a few of my own comments on the subject.
    1. Culture
    As an American who has lived the last 7 years in Spain amongst Spaniards I feel I can say I know both American and Spanish cultures quite well. I can see that wine making education would be a hard sell in many US school districts, although not sure how it is handled in California since I have never been there. (any Californians have comments?)
    In Spain, wine (or beer) is rarely seen as a taboo thing. No one even thinks twice about if they should order wine during a business lunch. Normally they do! Wine in moderation is very much a part of the psyche in Spain. Its is classified as a food, not in a list with other alcoholic drinks. You don’t need a special permit to buy it. A 16 year old in a restaurant will have no problems from the waitstaff when ordering wine. The age to enter a bar and order an alcoholic drink is 18, which is a much more socially responsible law than 21 in my opinion. Since wine is never prohibited by the culture, its never seen as something that should be desired becaue its hard to get.
    And as Sr. Castiblanque says, wine is part of the culture in Spain. So its important for children to learn about it.
    I know that because of the alcohol stigma in the US it would be difficult to get the parents and school boards to agree to something like this
    2. Business
    This point has not been addressed and I think one of the main ideas behind educating children about wines in Spain is to interest them in possible career choices. Wine is an important business in Spain, and so what better way to interest people in wine and convert them into future winemakers to continue the business in the future. In Minnesota where I am from, winemaking is more of a curiosity than anything else, not a future career choice. When I was young I learned about local businesses and career choices which were available locally. Therefore I never learned about grape growing or wine, but I did see how maple syrup is made, how wild rice is harvested, and learned other things that were important for living in my northern region, like cold weather survival techniques, and nature conservation.

    I think the main problem for this in the US is that alcohol is a problematic subject and people may not openly welcome wine education for their children. Yes, if you want to change something in a culture, you start with the kids, but how can you even begin teach children when their parents and culture don’t allow it?

  • Oenophilus

    Wow, Gabriella! I'll bet you weren't expecting this "Tempest in a Decanter" when you opened up this discussion. Great piece, though. I am fascinated by the topic. I have a five year-old who has been a part of winery life since before she was born. My wife, Genevieve, spent the harvest of 2002 (her last trimester) directing cellar operations from a papa-san chair we set up on the crushpad. Malia was born just as we pressed the last wines to barrel and bottled our first Rose. After a few months, she was in her crib/playpen in the winery office and then back in the cellar with me in a backpack. From the time she was two, we started giving her smells and tastes of wine. She then started getting a little wine in her water at the dinner table. She knows what wine is. She has had exposure to the winemaking process, although she has probably helped more when we homebrew beer or cider. Malia knows that wine has a place at the table; it is an integral part of a meal in our home. I know that by educating her about wine and its place in life and society, I am not only enriching her life as a complete person, but I am also giving her the tools she will need to make adult choices about how she consumes alcohol. Relational learning practices, like Multiple Intelligence, put learning into life contexts. Using grapes to teach a child to count in a wine-growing region, makes sense – in an urban or industrial setting, maybe less so. Teaching a teenager chemistry using practical examples will make them enjoy learning a great deal more than boring theories. Our children are taken on tours of the library, the fire station, the bakery, city hall – why not the local winery? Where I live at the confluence of the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys, children are surrounded by wine, tasting rooms, winery events, wine fundraisers for their schools, etc. Teaching them about winegrowing, winemaking, and wine will only enhance their learning. Jesus used many examples about winegrowing to make his points; he lived in a wine region. Perhaps this pedagogy works best when paired with what is relevant in the atmosphere around the place where the children live. Alcohol does not make alcoholics. Attitudes, influences, genetics, personalities, and dysfunctions create alcoholics. I would argue that wine is, first and foremost, food. It is an addition to the table. Wine enhances our dining experience. The Sicilians have a great proverb, "Wine is the ultimate condiment." Yes, wine has alcohol. Yes, I have been inebriated on several occasions due to drinking too much wine. Do I drink wine to get drunk? Never. Do I turn down more wine when I feel I have had enough? Certainly. These are lessons that we can pass on to our children so that their lives may be as rich as ours. Salud, Dinero, y Amor! Y Tiempo para Gozarlas! –Patrick

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    Gabriella:

    Point 1: I know the issues we have had in the US over “characters” such as Joe Camel, which attracted children to smoking. It made smoking seem fun so that over rode the good sense of the children. My worry is that grape characters could become the focal point of the attention of children, attracting them to wine, but the children might ignore then dangers. Sure, it would be good for children to have a positive image of wine. But we also need to ensure that positivity is tempered with the proper cautions. Even adults can fall for a clever ad that attracts their attention, ignoring the potential dangers/.

    Point 2: As we agree parent involvement is crucial, then I feel that any such wine education for children should include parental involvement. We can’t just educate the children if their parents are not going to reinforce matters. As an aside, how would the school handler parents who did not want their children exposed to wine education? I know that would happen in the U.S. It probably would not be an issue in Europe.

    Point 3: So it seems you agree that there is at least a potential harm to some children who won’t listen to the message. So, how do we quantify that harm? Is that harm greater than the potential gain? How can we minimize the harm? I am not opposed the basic idea of wine education for children. I just think it needs to be better studied to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms. Especially in the U.S. that lacks an established wine culture. I think the chance of harm in the U.S. is greater than ijn Europe.

    Point 4: As I said in Point 3, I think more study needs to go into the subject in the U.S. There are certainly things that can be done, but care must be taken to minimize potential harm.

    Gabriella, I agree with your basic ideas to trying to create a better wine culture and educate children not to fear wine. But I think there are some valid concerns about potential harms to children if the educational programs are not properly constructed. And without parental involvement, I can see some potential pitfalls. Young children are impressionable and don’t always use common sense. At the very least, they need positive reinforcement at home.

    Consider high school kids in the U.S. They all hear the dangers of drinking and driving. They see the horrific videos in school. They see the newspapers every year of kids dying in car accidents because of drinking and driving. They are certainly of an age to understand the dangers. Yet so many of them ignore those dangers and do it anyways. Can we expect grade school students to be more responsible? I don’t think so.

    Maybe I am just over cautious. But I do feel there is a real potential harm that needs to be considered in any such wine education program for children.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  • Ryan

    Thanks for the comment Oenophilus – I really love that you are taking the time to give your child a well rounded up bringing. I have a feeling that your doing something right!!! Richard I just have a couple things I need to say. 1)Joe Camel never sold cigarettes to kids because he looked like micky mouse! The government loved to laud this about to show that Joe camel was drawing kids to the cigs and that they got rid of him. Truth is, it was peer pressure, parents smoking, and other pressures that lead to teens smoking. Also now that Joe is gone teenagers still smoke. If anything big grapes are going to lead to more grape eating or a unnatural fear of purple fruits??? ;) 2) teaching kids about wine has no potential harm to it. none, zero, zippo, zilch…Unless the class describes the most effective ways to consume wine to inebriation. Which I don't think these classes do. Children pick up on what you do, say and act like. If you educate them about wine as a beverage, and a "condiment" as Oenophilus points out, they will at least be given an educated view on the problem. On the other hand your point that state this: "Consider high school kids in the U.S. They all hear the dangers of drinking and driving. They see the horrific videos in school. They see the newspapers every year of kids dying in car accidents because of drinking and driving. They are certainly of an age to understand the dangers. Yet so many of them ignore those dangers and do it anyways. Can we expect grade school students to be more responsible? I don't think so. " I am willing to bet none of these kids received any education on how to consume alcohol in a responsible way. Thus, the example only shows what happens when you don't educate them about how to drink responsibly. Not what happens when you do. Heck I learned in chemistry class how to distill alcohol in the context of science. Should the chemistry teacher be blamed for the drunk driving accidents that befell some of my high school classmates? another 2 cents, bringing my total to 4 ;)

  • http://oenophilia.wordpress.com Oenophilus

    Wow, Gabriella! I’ll bet you weren’t expecting this “Tempest in a Decanter” when you opened up this discussion. Great piece, though. I am fascinated by the topic.

    I have a five year-old who has been a part of winery life since before she was born. My wife, Genevieve, spent the harvest of 2002 (her last trimester) directing cellar operations from a papa-san chair we set up on the crushpad. Malia was born just as we pressed the last wines to barrel and bottled our first Rose. After a few months, she was in her crib/playpen in the winery office and then back in the cellar with me in a backpack. From the time she was two, we started giving her smells and tastes of wine. She then started getting a little wine in her water at the dinner table. She knows what wine is. She has had exposure to the winemaking process, although she has probably helped more when we homebrew beer or cider. Malia knows that wine has a place at the table; it is an integral part of a meal in our home. I know that by educating her about wine and its place in life and society, I am not only enriching her life as a complete person, but I am also giving her the tools she will need to make adult choices about how she consumes alcohol.

    Relational learning practices, like Multiple Intelligence, put learning into life contexts. Using grapes to teach a child to count in a wine-growing region, makes sense – in an urban or industrial setting, maybe less so. Teaching a teenager chemistry using practical examples will make them enjoy learning a great deal more than boring theories. Our children are taken on tours of the library, the fire station, the bakery, city hall – why not the local winery? Where I live at the confluence of the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys, children are surrounded by wine, tasting rooms, winery events, wine fundraisers for their schools, etc. Teaching them about winegrowing, winemaking, and wine will only enhance their learning. Jesus used many examples about winegrowing to make his points; he lived in a wine region. Perhaps this pedagogy works best when paired with what is relevant in the atmosphere around the place where the children live.

    Alcohol does not make alcoholics. Attitudes, influences, genetics, personalities, and dysfunctions create alcoholics. I would argue that wine is, first and foremost, food. It is an addition to the table. Wine enhances our dining experience. The Sicilians have a great proverb, “Wine is the ultimate condiment.” Yes, wine has alcohol. Yes, I have been inebriated on several occasions due to drinking too much wine. Do I drink wine to get drunk? Never. Do I turn down more wine when I feel I have had enough? Certainly. These are lessons that we can pass on to our children so that their lives may be as rich as ours.

    Salud, Dinero, y Amor! Y Tiempo para Gozarlas!

    –Patrick

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    Thanks for the comment Oenophilus – I really love that you are taking the time to give your child a well rounded up bringing. I have a feeling that your doing something right!!!

    Richard I just have a couple things I need to say.
    1)Joe Camel never sold cigarettes to kids because he looked like micky mouse! The government loved to laud this about to show that Joe camel was drawing kids to the cigs and that they got rid of him. Truth is, it was peer pressure, parents smoking, and other pressures that lead to teens smoking. Also now that Joe is gone teenagers still smoke. If anything big grapes are going to lead to more grape eating or a unnatural fear of purple fruits??? ;)

    2) teaching kids about wine has no potential harm to it. none, zero, zippo, zilch…Unless the class describes the most effective ways to consume wine to inebriation. Which I don’t think these classes do. Children pick up on what you do, say and act like. If you educate them about wine as a beverage, and a “condiment” as Oenophilus points out, they will at least be given an educated view on the problem. On the other hand your point that state this:

    “Consider high school kids in the U.S. They all hear the dangers of drinking and driving. They see the horrific videos in school. They see the newspapers every year of kids dying in car accidents because of drinking and driving. They are certainly of an age to understand the dangers. Yet so many of them ignore those dangers and do it anyways. Can we expect grade school students to be more responsible? I don’t think so. ”

    I am willing to bet none of these kids received any education on how to consume alcohol in a responsible way. Thus, the example only shows what happens when you don’t educate them about how to drink responsibly. Not what happens when you do.

    Heck I learned in chemistry class how to distill alcohol in the context of science. Should the chemistry teacher be blamed for the drunk driving accidents that befell some of my high school classmates?

    another 2 cents, bringing my total to 4 ;)

  • RichardA

    Hi Ryan: 1) From the studies I have read, Joe Camel did contribute to the problem of children smoking. There were certainly other contributing factors, but one cannot just discount the effect of Joe Camel. It seems fairly logical that with all those other factors, that Joe Camel would contribute to making smoking appealing. A Massachusetts study found Joe Camel was most recognized by 12-17 yr olds. 2) Do you have any studies or evidence to show that teaching kids about wine has no potential harm? All you have offered is an opinion without any support. I have pointed out a number of areas of potential harm. First, you have to have the "proper" education. Not just any wine education course will be effective. You would have to at least include in that class info on responsible alcohol use. Second, without parent involvement the classes would definitely not work as effectively. Even Gabriella agreed that parental involvement was essential. Third, there certainly will be children who won't learn the lessons of the wine class. No one can guaranatee a 100% success rate in convincing children in a wine class not to abuse wine. The question then becomes how many children will fall into that category, and what other factors will contribute to such. Fourth, what happens if parents object to wine education in their children's schools? That will certainly happen in the U.S. You then stated: "I am willing to bet none of these kids received any education on how to consume alcohol in a responsible way. Thus, the example only shows what happens when you don’t educate them about how to drink responsibly. Not what happens when you do." Again you offer an opinion without any real support. These classes on drunk driving obviously tell children how to drink responsibly…i.e. don't drink and drive. Can't get more basic than that. Yet still there are children (and adults) that don't listen. You can point out all the horror stories in the world to them, but they still do it. There is no one that a wine class that took in 4th grade is going to stop some of these people from abusing alcohol. Education is not 100% effective, in pretty much any venue. Even in Europe with their wine cultures you still have alcoholism. France has been dealing with severe alcoholism in recent years. Until you can show me any studies that guarantee 100% effectiveness from wine education classes, then potential harm absolutely exists. Thanks.

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    Hi Ryan:

    1) From the studies I have read, Joe Camel did contribute to the problem of children smoking. There were certainly other contributing factors, but one cannot just discount the effect of Joe Camel. It seems fairly logical that with all those other factors, that Joe Camel would contribute to making smoking appealing. A Massachusetts study found Joe Camel was most recognized by 12-17 yr olds.

    2) Do you have any studies or evidence to show that teaching kids about wine has no potential harm? All you have offered is an opinion without any support. I have pointed out a number of areas of potential harm. First, you have to have the “proper” education. Not just any wine education course will be effective. You would have to at least include in that class info on responsible alcohol use. Second, without parent involvement the classes would definitely not work as effectively. Even Gabriella agreed that parental involvement was essential. Third, there certainly will be children who won’t learn the lessons of the wine class. No one can guaranatee a 100% success rate in convincing children in a wine class not to abuse wine. The question then becomes how many children will fall into that category, and what other factors will contribute to such. Fourth, what happens if parents object to wine education in their children’s schools? That will certainly happen in the U.S.

    You then stated: “I am willing to bet none of these kids received any education on how to consume alcohol in a responsible way. Thus, the example only shows what happens when you don’t educate them about how to drink responsibly. Not what happens when you do.”

    Again you offer an opinion without any real support. These classes on drunk driving obviously tell children how to drink responsibly…i.e. don’t drink and drive. Can’t get more basic than that. Yet still there are children (and adults) that don’t listen. You can point out all the horror stories in the world to them, but they still do it. There is no one that a wine class that took in 4th grade is going to stop some of these people from abusing alcohol.

    Education is not 100% effective, in pretty much any venue. Even in Europe with their wine cultures you still have alcoholism. France has been dealing with severe alcoholism in recent years. Until you can show me any studies that guarantee 100% effectiveness from wine education classes, then potential harm absolutely exists.

    Thanks.

  • Ryan

    Richard, the kids in schools are taught not to drink responsibly, but rather to not drink at all, something we all know is not reality.The only obvious part is that educators have their heads in the sand when it comes to how kids preceive alcohol. Admit kids sometimes drink, educate them that if they "do"(not that they should)choose to drink, they need to do it responsibly. But this has nothing at all to do with how you educate kids about wine. Wine is natural, and healthy, and good for you(in moderate amount to. No need to cite the many reports that seem to be coming out everyday explaining how alcohol is not bad for you like it was previously thought to be. Shouldn't health class talk about it then? Or should we hide the greek wine Kraters in museums, from the children who come to visit? These classes aren't as much about consumption as they are about the process and the culture of wine. A policy that says something doesn't exsist, until you are old enough to know it exsists, is just plain silly. Potential harm exists everywhere, and in everything we do. Teaching kids about wars, does that lead to war? Should we institute a policy that says that if we deny that war exists we'll end up with children who are peaceful and not going to drive us to war? You will never defeat alcoholism. And a class on how the sun ripens grapes and then sugars can be converted to alcohol is going to have a lot less effect on turning kids into drinkers than the latest episode of the simpsons with Homer drinking Duff till he stumbled home. I much rather have a child learn about alcohol from a professional educator than have their first education be in the basement of a friends house with a beer bong. Finally I know parents will most definitely object to wine education in schools, and that is why we wrote this post. ALcohol is seen as "evil" in the states. Joe camel may have been recognized by 12-17yr olds, but I'm willing to bet that so is budweiser, coors, and marlboro – the elimination of Joe Camel was an easy target by the GOV, while the biggest sellars of tobacco and alcohol remain the celebrities, and ads(with or without the cartoon!).

  • RichardA

    Ryan: Kids are at least taught some elements of drinking responsibly. The best example is that kids receive a constant bombardment in schools that they should not drink and drive. That is certainly an element of drinking responsibly. Yet that still does not stop kids from doing it. So it is clear that not all kids are going to listen to responsible advice on drinking. You state: "These classes aren’t as much about consumption as they are about the process and the culture of wine." To be effective, the classes need to be at least as much about responsible consumption as the culture of wine. And even then, there is no guarantee that the lessons of responsibility will adhere to the kids. But it certainly will raise their interest level as to wine. Which may not be a good thing for all. Let me see the direct evidence, the studies, that these classes will cause no harm. I am not against teaching children about such matters. There simply needs to be safeguards in place to minimize any potential harms. I believe I have indicated a few areas of such potential harm. And that is my concern, any potential harm. Granted you cannot stop alcoholism, but you also cannot do something that could potentially increase the chances of such. Any wine education class, as I said before, needs to be properly constructed to minimize the harm. One could question as well the potential issues of a winery running classes for children, and whether the winery's primary concern is future consumers or the welfare of the children. I feel their programs would need to be carefully scrutinized beforehand. So, if parents object, how can that be overcome? I don't see how the programs could work without their assent and involvement. Joe Camel was but one example. I did previously mention wine coolers as well which have often been caused of appealing to underage kids. Celebrities too contribute to the problem. Yet simple wine classes are not about to overcome all of those problems. And could potentially create more. So, more study and investigation into the proper wine education classes should be undertaken before they are used,.

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    Richard, the kids in schools are taught not to drink responsibly, but rather to not drink at all, something we all know is not reality.The only obvious part is that educators have their heads in the sand when it comes to how kids preceive alcohol. Admit kids sometimes drink, educate them that if they “do”(not that they should)choose to drink, they need to do it responsibly.

    But this has nothing at all to do with how you educate kids about wine. Wine is natural, and healthy, and good for you(in moderate amount to. No need to cite the many reports that seem to be coming out everyday explaining how alcohol is not bad for you like it was previously thought to be. Shouldn’t health class talk about it then? Or should we hide the greek wine Kraters in museums, from the children who come to visit? These classes aren’t as much about consumption as they are about the process and the culture of wine.

    A policy that says something doesn’t exsist, until you are old enough to know it exsists, is just plain silly. Potential harm exists everywhere, and in everything we do. Teaching kids about wars, does that lead to war? Should we institute a policy that says that if we deny that war exists we’ll end up with children who are peaceful and not going to drive us to war?

    You will never defeat alcoholism. And a class on how the sun ripens grapes and then sugars can be converted to alcohol is going to have a lot less effect on turning kids into drinkers than the latest episode of the simpsons with Homer drinking Duff till he stumbled home. I much rather have a child learn about alcohol from a professional educator than have their first education be in the basement of a friends house with a beer bong.

    Finally I know parents will most definitely object to wine education in schools, and that is why we wrote this post. ALcohol is seen as “evil” in the states. Joe camel may have been recognized by 12-17yr olds, but I’m willing to bet that so is budweiser, coors, and marlboro – the elimination of Joe Camel was an easy target by the GOV, while the biggest sellars of tobacco and alcohol remain the celebrities, and ads(with or without the cartoon!).

  • Wine and Food Pairin

    Thanks for this informative article. I remember talking to you about this subject last fall. I am also a fan of the Multiple Intelligences theory, and I've got a copy of The Grapes Grow Sweet just waiting for some kids to ask about wine. Kathleen Lisson

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    Ryan:
    Kids are at least taught some elements of drinking responsibly. The best example is that kids receive a constant bombardment in schools that they should not drink and drive. That is certainly an element of drinking responsibly. Yet that still does not stop kids from doing it. So it is clear that not all kids are going to listen to responsible advice on drinking.

    You state: “These classes aren’t as much about consumption as they are about the process and the culture of wine.”

    To be effective, the classes need to be at least as much about responsible consumption as the culture of wine. And even then, there is no guarantee that the lessons of responsibility will adhere to the kids. But it certainly will raise their interest level as to wine. Which may not be a good thing for all. Let me see the direct evidence, the studies, that these classes will cause no harm.

    I am not against teaching children about such matters. There simply needs to be safeguards in place to minimize any potential harms. I believe I have indicated a few areas of such potential harm. And that is my concern, any potential harm.

    Granted you cannot stop alcoholism, but you also cannot do something that could potentially increase the chances of such. Any wine education class, as I said before, needs to be properly constructed to minimize the harm. One could question as well the potential issues of a winery running classes for children, and whether the winery’s primary concern is future consumers or the welfare of the children. I feel their programs would need to be carefully scrutinized beforehand.

    So, if parents object, how can that be overcome? I don’t see how the programs could work without their assent and involvement. Joe Camel was but one example. I did previously mention wine coolers as well which have often been caused of appealing to underage kids. Celebrities too contribute to the problem. Yet simple wine classes are not about to overcome all of those problems. And could potentially create more. So, more study and investigation into the proper wine education classes should be undertaken before they are used,.

  • http://kathleenlisson.blogspot.com Wine and Food Pairing

    Thanks for this informative article. I remember talking to you about this subject last fall. I am also a fan of the Multiple Intelligences theory, and I’ve got a copy of The Grapes Grow Sweet just waiting for some kids to ask about wine.
    Kathleen Lisson

  • Jeff Cleveland

    You know how when there's a sign that says "Wet Paint" you just feel compelled to reach out and make sure it's really wet? Don't you think it's that same combination of natural curiosity and rebellion against authority that is responsible for the poor choices of many young people in this country? I believe that if wine were a normal part of meals and children were able to grow up observing their parents responsibly enjoying wine this way, it would be less of a problem.

  • http://indiscriminateideas.blogspot.com Jeff Cleveland

    You know how when there’s a sign that says “Wet Paint” you just feel compelled to reach out and make sure it’s really wet? Don’t you think it’s that same combination of natural curiosity and rebellion against authority that is responsible for the poor choices of many young people in this country? I believe that if wine were a normal part of meals and children were able to grow up observing their parents responsibly enjoying wine this way, it would be less of a problem.

  • Pingback: Children and Wine hits the AP « Oenophilia - An obsessive disorder or just a way of life?

  • pilar

    G and I have been chatting about wine education in developing countries. At the beginning I told her that those kind of issues are the typical issues depeloped countries' readers would discuss about. Here, the topic could be seen as something snobbish or pretentious and perhaps suitable for those elitists schools were children are sent to to be educated into a european style, where English, French and Hockey are taught… Most people here get low salaries and wouldnt be able to afford a visit to a winery, so, G asked… What about state schools? Well,, I said, some of those children who attend classes at state schools may even lack a proper meal at home… After reconsidering my point of view I thought that perhaps Gabriella was right, Wine education is not only about wine, It is about a whole thing that relates to science, geography, social studies, economy etc… Perhaps, I was being elitist myself, the same as many other southamericans are… Why not giving the chance to appreciate wine in a way they wouldn't be able to do at their homes? They may even teach their families and community how to appreciate wine and get healthier habits.

  • pilar

    G and I have been chatting about wine education in developing countries. At the beginning I told her that those kind of issues are the typical issues depeloped countries’ readers would discuss about.
    Here, the topic could be seen as something snobbish or pretentious and perhaps suitable for those elitists schools were children are sent to to be educated into a european style, where English, French and Hockey are taught… Most people here get low salaries and wouldnt be able to afford a visit to a winery, so, G asked… What about state schools? Well,, I said, some of those children who attend classes at state schools may even lack a proper meal at home…
    After reconsidering my point of view I thought that perhaps Gabriella was right, Wine education is not only about wine, It is about a whole thing that relates to science, geography, social studies, economy etc… Perhaps, I was being elitist myself, the same as many other southamericans are… Why not giving the chance to appreciate wine in a way they wouldn’t be able to do at their homes? They may even teach their families and community how to appreciate wine and get healthier habits.

  • Pingback: Iridesse Winemakers Give Wine…(Gasp!)…to their Kid! « Notes from Iridesse Wines

  • Benjamin

    Culture v. Consumption Few would argue that what we are exposed to creates who we are. Parents who smoke often have children who smoke, most alcoholics have a parent or grandparent with the disease, and workaholic parents have workaholic children. From a young age children are indoctrinated with the culture of the society in which they live. As an American, in America, we did not grow up with with an appreciation of wine or respect for the grape. I know little about the process, or the product. My peers and I purchase wine (this will make you all cringe) not because we know about it but it falls within a certain price point. Wine and cheese is getting drunk at somebodies house, and a wine paring is something unheard of. From living in Spain, wine became part of my culture – the amalgamation that is currently me. I learned to sip slowly and smell the bouquet (Why? I don't know. Because I have no sense of smell.) and now appreciate wine more and have started to realize what I like and can be an educated consumer. As culture, if something is appreciated, it is not abused. Ryan and Gabriella have made excellent points, and counterpoints. I agree with them that education and appreciation for wine should start at a young age. At the same time it is the parents responsibility to introduce wine to children, and teach them how to appreciate it. If you gently hand a child a butterfly, few children – if any, will kill the insect, but rather will mimic the adult and treat the butterfly with respect. Children learn their behaviors from their parents and society – if wine is respected that behavior WILL be learned. While I agree about the importance of education I do not agree with the stance that Bodegas Castiblanque is taking with their education program. As a marketer, I believe, they are trying to create consumers – roping them in at a young age before they know better. I feel that they are reaching out to a younger generation to guarantee relevance of their product in the future. Parents need to step up in raising their children. They should not be turning to wineries to educate their children about alcohol, just as they would not turn to big tobacco to teach their kids about the benefits of smoking. Ryan is right – sex education classes do not lead to sex at a younger age. The lack of parental involvement and numerous other factors (glamorization of sex in movies and TV, perhaps) are the cause of today's children – throughout the world – having sex at a younger age. Ryan is also correct that Joe Camel did not make children smoke. However, the point of the Joe Camel argument was not that kids were smoking, but rather that children recognized Joe Camel as much as Mickey Mouse. Educate your children! Teach them about wine, teach them about sex, teach them about their culture. Teach your children the beliefs, traditions and appreciation that you want them to have. Parents — teach your children your passion, but don't think a business is looking out for their best interest.

  • Benjamin

    Culture v. Consumption

    Few would argue that what we are exposed to creates who we are. Parents who smoke often have children who smoke, most alcoholics have a parent or grandparent with the disease, and workaholic parents have workaholic children. From a young age children are indoctrinated with the culture of the society in which they live.

    As an American, in America, we did not grow up with with an appreciation of wine or respect for the grape. I know little about the process, or the product. My peers and I purchase wine (this will make you all cringe) not because we know about it but it falls within a certain price point. Wine and cheese is getting drunk at somebodies house, and a wine paring is something unheard of.

    From living in Spain, wine became part of my culture – the amalgamation that is currently me. I learned to sip slowly and smell the bouquet (Why? I don’t know. Because I have no sense of smell.) and now appreciate wine more and have started to realize what I like and can be an educated consumer.

    As culture, if something is appreciated, it is not abused.

    Ryan and Gabriella have made excellent points, and counterpoints. I agree with them that education and appreciation for wine should start at a young age. At the same time it is the parents responsibility to introduce wine to children, and teach them how to appreciate it. If you gently hand a child a butterfly, few children – if any, will kill the insect, but rather will mimic the adult and treat the butterfly with respect. Children learn their behaviors from their parents and society – if wine is respected that behavior WILL be learned.

    While I agree about the importance of education I do not agree with the stance that Bodegas Castiblanque is taking with their education program. As a marketer, I believe, they are trying to create consumers – roping them in at a young age before they know better. I feel that they are reaching out to a younger generation to guarantee relevance of their product in the future.

    Parents need to step up in raising their children. They should not be turning to wineries to educate their children about alcohol, just as they would not turn to big tobacco to teach their kids about the benefits of smoking. Ryan is right – sex education classes do not lead to sex at a younger age. The lack of parental involvement and numerous other factors (glamorization of sex in movies and TV, perhaps) are the cause of today’s children – throughout the world – having sex at a younger age. Ryan is also correct that Joe Camel did not make children smoke. However, the point of the Joe Camel argument was not that kids were smoking, but rather that children recognized Joe Camel as much as Mickey Mouse.

    Educate your children! Teach them about wine, teach them about sex, teach them about their culture. Teach your children the beliefs, traditions and appreciation that you want them to have. Parents — teach your children your passion, but don’t think a business is looking out for their best interest.

  • Pingback: Iberian Links around the Web

  • gerry

    It's actually the first time I hear about such an interesting class… I find it difficult to teach kids about wine making first of all because we are talking about alcohol and expose kids to the idea of alcohol. I am not saying that they shouldn't learn about it, I only think this should be carefully done. http://nerdnirvana.org/2008/10/03/cliffside-mal