Napa Valley College

Napa Valley College has filled one of the top two positions in its wine education program.

The two-year school’s board of trustees on Thursday selected Paul Gospodarczyk of Illinois as instructor for winemaking and wine technology. He will take over the position held by Bryan Avila, who is scheduled to step down at the end of the current school year later this month.

Gospodarczyk’s hiring, which the board announced after an hour-long closed session, ends a months-long hiring campaign that drew controversy after some students voiced fears the process could result in only one main instructor for the wine program, rather than two.

In addition to Avila, NVC had employed Stephen Krebs, the school’s viticulture instructor, for 29 years until his retirement last year. Terry Giugni, vice president of instruction, said the college expects to begin advertising for Krebs’ former post by May 28, and to have a new viticulture instructor ready in time for the 2015-16 school year.

A winemaking consultant and master sommelier, Gospodarczyk is the executive director of Today’s Wine Professional LLC, a Chicago-area company offering in-person and online wine marketing instruction, according to the firm’s website. His LinkedIn page lists experience including establishment of a half-dozen wineries, two years teaching wine microbiology for the Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance in Missouri, and five years as an associate enology professor at the Iowa Culinary Institute in Des Moines.

In a telephone interview Thursday night, Gospodarczyk said he looked forward to guiding students with various degrees of experience – and to helping them find a place in Napa County’s dominant industry.

“What I’ve been searching for is a really good teaching position,” he said. “… This is the community college system, and we’re about being local, working (hands-on) and responding to the needs of the industry we’re working with. That is my job and that’s what I want to do in this role.”

Before the announcement, members of two farming industry groups urged the college to start over with their recruitment and advertise for separate instructors in viticulture and winemaking – the former a plant science, the latter a food science.

College officials said the recruitment was designed to find a teacher in either field first and the other field later. However, some students had feared the advertisement issued by NVC appeared to request candidates with expertise in both fields, which they said would be nearly impossible to find and likely caused qualified teachers of either subject to drop out.

To ensure NVC students get the best possible instructors in both halves of its wine program, it must seek teachers with clear responsibility for one or the other, said Paul Anamosa of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.

“They’re your students, but they’re our future employees,” the Napa viticulturist and soil scientist said. “And we have a vested interested in seeing that they get the benefit of the best instruction possible.”

Norma Tofanelli, president of the Napa County Farm Bureau, hoped the experience would lead NVC to more quickly seek advice from the local wine industry in developing its wine program.

“Steve Krebs was a tremendous loss to the program, but I think we can help build a program of star quality,” she told the board. “Much as the wineries are a shining star for Napa County, so this program should be.”

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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