The University of Missouri-Columbia has raised half of the $3 million it needs to build a teaching winery, with plans to add research and education buildings in the future.
The university now is seeking matching funds from the state for the winery, which will be the first of three phases of the effort to teach students how to make and bottle wine, The Columbia Missourian reported.
The new winery would be a commercial operation and replace the university's current smaller, experimental winery.
Students would be able to produce more than 2,000 cases of wine each year, compared with up to 100 cases at the current winery.
The school hopes to break ground on the project in spring 2015 and complete it that fall, said Tony Kooyumjian, chairman of the Wine and Grape Research Committee.
Eventually, the viticulture and enology center will include three buildings: the teaching winery, research building and a wine and food education building.
Viticulture is the study of grapes, and enology is the study of wine and wine making. Along with making wine, students will learn how to clean and maintain machinery used in a typical winery, Kooyumjian said.
The university has raised $1.5 million from industry partners and private entities and will now ask the legislature for matching funds, said Heidi Griswold, development director in the Office of Advancement in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
Ingolf Gruen, interim director at the MU Grape and Wine Institute, which is funded by the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, said the experimental wine the university makes now is used only for chemical analysis.
"The winery we have now is just a hole in the wall," Gruen said. "It's not up to a commercial level."
Kooyumjian said the project has been discussed in the state wine industry for 20 years.
"We are hoping the interests in agriculture, wine and locally produced food products will convince the legislative committee to approve," Kooyumjian said.
"It's an economic impact, but more than that, if someone wants to become a wine maker or vineyard manager there isn't any place they can go other than New York or California for a top-notch university program," Kooyumjian said. "We think there is a demand from the Midwest to attract students that want to learn more about the science of wine making and grape growing."