Wine and Viticulture

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Scholarship Supporting BIPOC Students

From left to right: Myles Adams, Cal Poly wine and viticulture student Class of ’22; Jeff O’Neill, CEO of O’Neill Vintners & Distillers; Justin Trabue (Wine and Viticulture, ’17) Assistant Winemaker at Lumen Wines; Simonne Mitchelson, COO Natural Action Wine Co.; and Charles Woodson, Intercept Wines and former NFL Player. Photo courtesy of Christina Schmidhofer.

Wine industry leaders have created a scholarship fund through the California Community Foundation* to support Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) students at Cal Poly who are pursuing a career in wine and viticulture.

The scholarship comes after two Central Coast wine industry leaders provided a call to action to the wine community, asking their colleagues to come together to create a more diverse wine industry that better reflects U.S. demographics. 

Justin Trabue (Wine and Viticulture, ’17) and Simonne Mitchelson, both Black female leaders in the wine industry, brought attention to the need for more diversity and ignited other industry leaders to step up to create a scholarship to support BIPOC students pursuing a career in wine. 

The O’Neill family and Charles Woodson have teamed up to provide the Charles Woodsen and O’Neill Family Wine Scholarship, which provides enough funding for a full-ride scholarship (including tuition, room and board) for a student’s entire four to five years at Cal Poly. There is additional funding available from other donors to give partial scholarships to additional qualifying students.

“Growing up in Washington, D.C., I always thought I’d attend a university on the East Coast. But when I visited Cal Poly during my junior year of high school I fell in love,” said Trabue, now an assistant winemaker at Lumen Wines in Los Alamos. “Cal Poly’s wine and viticulture program is fantastic to its core, from in-class wine tastings and lessons in the vineyard, to opportunities to study abroad in New Zealand and the ability to join a club focused on exposing students to leaders in the industry.

Cal Poly has the largest undergraduate wine and viticulture program in the country and has prioritized the recruitment and retention of a more diverse student body. 

The scholarship is available to any Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) student in Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences who expresses an interest in a career in the wine industry, with students majoring in wine and viticulture receiving first preference.

“This scholarship program is particularly important because the impact is direct and the outcome offers sustainability to both building equity and diversifying the wine industry in our immediate area,” said Mitchelson, chief operating officer of Natural Action Wine Co. “By providing financial support and job opportunities, scholarship donors are offering incentive for Black, Indigenous, people of color graduates to remain on the Central Coast and share their vast talents and perspectives.”


  • Booker Vineyard
  • Brewer-Clifton Winery
  • Cambria Estate Winery
  • Halter Ranch Vineyard
  • The Niner Foundation
  • O'Neill Vintners and Distillers
  • Saxum Winery

*The California Community Foundation is not affiliated with Cal Poly.

For more information on how you can support the Black, Indigenous, People of Color in Wine and Viticulture Scholarship through the California Community Foundation, contact Allyson Dela Cruz at or visit


Visit Vines to Wines Fall 2020 to read more stories.

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