Sowela culinary students learn from Landry Vineyards reps

Landry Vineyards, a family owned and operated vineyard and winery in West Monroe visited Sowela Technical and Community College’s culinary arts students on Tuesday to demonstrate sommelier best practices for artfully pairing food and wine.

Landry Vineyards grows five different types of grapes and produces 23 different varieties of wine including several “cultural wines” that are unique to southern culture, said Dan Nash, demonstrator and wholesale marketing manager. No longer a “boutique winery,” Landry Vineyards produced over 11,000 bottles last year which are sold in 600 stores across the state.

The vineyard began operating in 1999 and Nash described the process of harvesting and making wine as one not for the faint of heart. “From the first dollar you spend putting the vines in, never mind the land cost, all the way to getting it in the bottle, it can be five or six years to before getting it to the market. It’s a slow return business…It’s a lot of work but there’s a lot of return.”

Nash described the valuable return as a product that is a result of both art and science. The vineyard utilizes extensive agricultural tests to monitor the unique factors of Louisiana soil and climate plus “intangibles and finesse” to create its ever-evolving final products.

Ed Neeley, culinary arts instructor, said like wine making, becoming a culinary artist requires the same skilled combinations. “You’ve got to be able to prepare food the correct way to get the most out of it and it’s an art in how you marry things together…Wine is such an important part of the marriage of food and beverage. Not everything tastes good with iced tea!”

The marriage of food and wine was the fundamental purpose of Landry Vineyards’s visit and Nash said sommelier training gives aspiring chefs a “leg up” in the culinary world. As a workforce development training center, Darlene Hoffpauir, institutional advancement coordinator, said, “It’s so important for our culinary students to have this experience because when there isn’t a sommelier the responsibility (of pairing) falls to a chef. It helps round out the skills of our students and makes them more employable.”

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Dan Nash, wholesale marketing manager for Landry Vineyards in Monroe spoke to Sowela culinary students about the process of handcrafting wines and pairing wine for flavorful dining experiences.

Special to the American Press

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