Tim Donahue & Eli Magun
When 50 pounds of zinfandel grapes arrived at the Donahue family home in Colorado, Tim eagerly helped his father to lift the grapes and make the wine. He was 4 years old and it was the late 70s. The Colorado winery went commercial in 1995 and Tim went to Australia to study winemaking. On a chance visit to Walla Walla Community College in 2010, he discovered that the wine program there needed an enology instructor, and he was hired for the position soon after. Eli Magun worked as a research assistant after graduating from college and eventually got tired of working with mice. He liked the combination of art and science involved in winemaking, and so left the research job to enroll in Walla Walla Community College’s Enology and Viticulture Program, where he currently is a student and manages the College Cellars tasting room.
College Cellars was the first commercial winery in the country that was also part of a two-year educational program in winemaking. The more accurate word is “winegrowing”, because the applied, trade-based Enology and Viticulture Program at Walla Walla Community College includes “soil to bottle” education. The college owns 4 estate vineyards covering 8 acres and producing 15 different varietals. With grapes from these vineyards and many others in the Walla Walla Valley, students make 32 different wines each year, many of which win awards. Today roughly 84% of the program’s graduates end up working in the wine industry, with nearly 60% going into wine production, and others pursuing viticultural or marketing jobs. Tim and Eli discuss the ideal student for this program, the best beginner varietals, why pinot gris makes a great rosé, and much more.
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