MILTON FREEWATER, OR. - Two men from Walla Walla are using their college educations to start their own winery in Milton Freewater.
Childhood friends Jeremy Petty and Jody Middleton have worked together in a juice plant for a decade. But a few years ago, an opportunity changed their lives.
"Our company actually offered a little bit of schooling for the supervisors," Petty said, "so we just kind of took that, and went to a couple of classes."
The material clicked, and they enrolled the Walla Walla Community College Enology and Viticulture program.
"We wanted to make wine and grow grapes while we were doing it," Middleton said, "so what better way to learn then to do it ourselves while we're learning?"
"We're a very workforce ready program," Tim Donahue, Instructor of Enology at WWCC said, "so everything's practical, applied, hands on, that's the way it is."
Classes cover every step of the wine making process, planting the vines through selling the bottles.
"Every year I've got a handful of students make their own wines. Maybe some people get crazy and make 3 or 4 barrels... They made 18." Donahue recalled.
Those 18 barrels are now more than 5000 bottles of wine, but there's one label that stands out. Jeremy and Jody each have two sons.
"We make a semi-sweet Riesling, a Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet-Sauvignon and our 4 boys red blend. We wanted to dedicate it to our four boys, and we dedicate a portion of the proceeds to a college fund for each of the four boys." Middleton said. Building their own futures, and insuring educations and jobs for their sons.
Donahue said, "it's that entrepreneurial spirit, that the school inspires, that, the school functions that way, and these are carrying on exactly what we're trying to do."
This weekend, you can be a part of the success. From 3 to 7 on Saturday afternoon, Jeremy and Jody will open J&J Vintners with a free, professionally catered, wine-tasting event.
"We want people to be able to enjoy our wine and it's going to be really cool when they are." Middleton said.