Alcohol and the college experience are often linked, but a group of student winemakers at Western Michigan University has turned the combination into a business.
“I have not heard of any programs in the U.S. let alone the world that students have actually worked to release their own wine product.
This is education that’s above intern-level experience.” That's Robert Craig, a student leader for the Bronconess wine brand.
Started last year at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Bronconess is named after their school mascot – the Broncos.
It has three wines – a cabernet sauvignon, a red blend and a white blend – available in more than 100 stores across the state.
Students raised $35,000 in sales in the first year.
And every penny has gone toward scholarship funding.
Sylvan Benton is also a student leader on the project and explains the idea behind the effort.
“How can we bring a product to Western Michigan that supports Western students and can be supported by Western alumni?
And that answer was wine.” Now, in partnership with St.
Julian Winery, the students are launching Bronconess Peach Bubbly, the brand’s first sparkling wine.
John Braganini is president of St.
“We’re the oldest winery in Michigan, we’re the largest winery in Michigan.
My grandfather started this company in 1921, it’s been in our family for 100 years.” Students are excited about the project expansion.
CRAIG: “Our partnership with St.
Julian has really been mutually beneficial for the both of us.
They’re able to expand their product line and we’re also able to learn from industry professionals.” BENTON: “I can’t wait to see what else we do throughout our future.” This local wine is serving a big purpose – education for the students who make it and financial support for their classmates.