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Michigan’s First Ever Winemaker Apprentices Graduate in Benzie County

Michigan’s first ever winemaker apprentices were recognized at a special graduation ceremony at St. Ambrose Cellars in Benzie County. Scott Cramton and Nathan Ely completed a registered apprenticeship program and earned a nationally recognized credential indicating their proficiency in the winemaking industry. Cramton and Ely spent two years in work-based learning and technical education related to winemaking. St. Ambrose Cellars worked with Northwest Michigan Works! to establish the registered apprenticeship program for winemakers.

“There’s a shortage of winemakers around here,” said Kirk Jones, President and CEO of St. Ambrose Cellars and Sleeping Bear Farms. “We needed to bring somebody in that we could custom train. This was an opportunity to really focus in on what we needed to do.”

“The program was very good,” said Crampton. “I’m really thankful to be where I am today through the help of this program and being able to learn on the job.”

The ceremony included certificates of recognition for the graduates from Congressman Jack Bergman, which were presented by his Director of Michigan Operations, Melanie Collingsworth. State Senator Darwin Booher and Representative Curt VanderWall presented tributes to Cramton, Ely, and St. Ambrose Cellars. Representatives from the Michigan Workforce Development Agency and Michigan State University’s Institute of Agriculture Technology also spoke at the event.

St. Ambrose Cellars and Sleeping Bear Farms are continuing to work with Northwest Michigan Works! on registered apprenticeship programs for other employees.

Registered apprenticeships are offered through the U.S. Department of Labor and are a proven training method for employers to build a talent pipeline of highly skilled, educated employees.

Northwest Michigan Works! provides technical assistance and administrative support for registered apprenticeships, including development and implementation guidance. For more information about registered apprenticeships, contact Evelyn Szpliet at or 231.723.2535, ext. 152.

Watch the video below to see highlights from the graduation ceremony.


Northwest Michigan Works! is an essential resource for employers and job seekers in the Northern Michigan area.
- Kathy Stuart, Michigan Rubber Products Human Resource Manager