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D'Vine Path cultivates future winemakers

FALLBROOK – After moving from Batali Ranch to a new facility in Fallbrook, D'Vine Path has experienced a few changes. In addition to the new students and staff members, the program has expanded to include a wider variety of training pathways offered.

The existing pathways have also experienced some change, including the newly named Trellis program which provides advanced training in viticulture and enology. Students gain firsthand experience working on a vineyard and caring for the grapevines.

Since moving from Batali Ranch, the Trellis Viticulture students have been working diligently to plant and tend to the new vineyard. Trellis Viticulture Instructor Tom Olmstead has been pleased to see the growth in the grapevines as well as in the students.

"I started at D'Vine Path in September 2018. I gave the first lecture on the history of viticulture to our first cohort of students," Olmstead said. "After that I continued to teach viticulture and assist in other areas of the program. My personal goal now is to teach my Trellis students enough about viticulture and winemaking to enable them for a job or career in either field."

When he's not at D'Vine Path teaching the Trellis students, Olmstead works as an organic chemistry professor at Grossmont College. Using his knowledge from teaching college students as well as managing his own vineyard, Olmstead has a wealth of knowledge to share with the students.

"Student learning comes in many forms. Some are visual learners, some are auditory learners and others a little of both. But the most important lesson to remember is that student learning is as individual as their personalities. Once a personal connection is made with my student then learning becomes part of a relationship that is built on trust, mutual respect and goal oriented activities," he said. "I am confident that our program will teach the students life skills that will serve them well in any environment, personal or professional."

Former D'Vine Path viticulture student Kai Kroeger has been applying skills learned from the program in his career. Through D'Vine Path, Kroeger discovered his passion for viticulture and enology. After graduating from D'Vine Path in 2021, Kroeger immediately jumped into the workforce securing a job at Vista Valley Country club working on landscaping with another former student Max Bolduc. Since then, Kroeger has installed his own vineyard at his home and he has secured his dream job working full-time at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula.

As of now, the Trellis program has four students and together the students manage over 350 vines on the D'Vine Path property. Trellis student Andrew Lilly has enjoyed his time working in this hands-on environment. At D'Vine Path, Lilly hopes to expand his knowledge about viticulture and explore the field as a possible career option.

"It's not easy work, but I've enjoyed learning about the vines and how they grow," Lilly said. "For the new vineyard we worked hard pounding in more than 100 stakes by hand, it was a good learning experience."

According to D'Vine Path Executive Director Lenila Lingad Batali, the Trellis students have gained essential skills through this program that has been helping them in all aspects of their lives.

"When the Trellis crew goes on field trips to other local vineyards and wineries, everyone is so impressed with their knowledge and skill sets. They ask the best questions and they're all so interested in learning everything they can about viticulture and enology," said Batali. "Their time at D'Vine Path has influenced their personal lives as well; they're becoming more confident in themselves and stepping out of their comfort zones."

For more information about D'Vine Path, visit

Submitted by D'Vine Path.


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