PAC hosts ribbon cutting for Vineyard & Hops Yard, receives $100k gift

May 24, 2023

Marketing and Strategic Communications

Palo Alto College hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Vineyard & Hops Yard on Tuesday, May 23. It marked the occasion by announcing a $100k gift from Laura and Kirk Kistner towards Viticulture and Enology program.

This celebration was the culmination of years of work to expand the horticulture program to offer an associate of applied science in viticulture and enology at Palo Alto College, including preparing the groundwork for the planting of the vineyard.

“We are excited to celebrate this milestone in a project that has been years in the making, and we are so grateful to have the support of our community,” said Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College. “As the winemaking industry booms in Texas, there is a growing need for more skilled labor at vineyards and wineries. Through our Viticulture and Enology program, students will have the hands-on experience needed for a successful career in the Texas wine industry and eventually the beer industry when we grow hops.”

The student learning experience will be unparalleled at the PAC Vineyard and Hops Garden, where they can learn directly about the effects of the Texas climate on the harvest.

Laura Kistner and her husband Kirk Kistner, both wine and beer enthusiasts, were excited to learn about the viticulture and enology program as it will help provide talent to the over $20 billion Texas wine industry.

“We are so happy to be a part of this new academic endeavor. Under Dr. Garza’s leadership, we are confident that education about soil, grape horticulture, weather, and blending is how the Texas wine and beer industry will continue to grow and enhance our local economy,” said Laura Kistner.

The College also announced a new partnership with Casa Guipzot, a San Antonio boutique wine shop and tasting room specializing in Mexican wines.

“We look forward to sharing the history and knowledge Mexico has to offer the future students of the Viticulture and Enology program at PAC as we work together to bring more women and gente into the wine industry,” said Salena Guipzot, owner of Casa Guipzot.

Palo Alto College introduced its Viticulture and Enology program in the spring of 2020. This program allows students to be a part of Texas’ flourishing wine industry while earning an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Viticulture and Enology, which requires 60 credit hours.

This unique program focuses on the labor side of the workforce instead of the entrepreneurial aspect. Current students have a thorough, scientific understanding of the winemaking process, hands-on experience with lab analyses, and exposure to winery equipment and operations, including behind-the-scenes tours at local wineries.

Learn more about PAC’s Viticulture and Enology program by visiting