Keith Patterson may have been a Cal Poly viticulture instructor for the past 16 years, but he knows all about Allan Hancock College students, too.

“Transfer students from Hancock are very well prepared,” Patterson said. “In fact, one of them is running the Cal Poly campus vineyard right now.”

Patterson is semi-retiring from Cal Poly this fall and will be able to bring his expertise to Hancock, teaching Viticulture II (AG 312), an advanced course covering the many aspects of vineyard management.

In addition to teaching, Patterson is a consultant for wineries on the Central Coast who will share his hands-on experience in the classroom. Specifically, Patterson said he will teach advanced students how to troubleshoot problems with grape vines and introduce them to some of the sustainability issues that affect the wine industry.

While Patterson is concentrating on wine grapes, Craig Macmillan is going to help Hancock students turn those grapes into wine. Macmillan is the second new addition to the Hancock viticulture/enology department this fall, teaching Basic Winemaking 1 (AG 310) and Viticulture Operations 1 and 4 (AG 120/AG 140).

“Wine is a blend of science and art, and that’s what makes it such a magical process,” Macmillan said. “I want to show my students that we don’t make wine, we tend wine.”

Macmillan started his career in viticulture in 1992 when he moved to the Central Coast for the weather and became immersed in the wine industry. Since then, he has produced wine under multiple labels, including his own, while teaching part-time at Cal Poly.

“Keith and Craig are a great addition to our team,” said Alfredo Koch, agribusiness program coordinator and instructor at Allan Hancock College. “They both bring outstanding teaching experience, and their talents complement those of the other instructors on campus.”

Macmillan said he’s most looking forward to teaching students how to make wine out of the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes grown on the Santa Maria campus, in the middle of one of the best pinot noir and chardonnay growing regions in the world.

“What I’m really excited about is we can give students the entire experience from planting the grapes to bottling the final product,” Macmillan said. “From the first day of class we will basically be a little winery.”

Registration for viticulture and enology classes is happening now, and classes start Aug. 20. Students must be at least 21 years old to register for Basic Winemaking. For more information, email Alfredo Koch at or click here to register online.

— Sonja Oglesby is a public affairs and publications technician for Allan Hancock College.