Field of study: Food Science and Technology, Enology
Hometown: Palm Springs, California
Fun fact: Born on St. Patrick’s Day!
Why did you choose the CALS MPS degree program?
The program is accelerated, course-based and flexible. I am able to tailor it to my specific needs, pursue the knowledge deficiencies I anticipate as I embark on this career path and work closely with highly-respected professors in the field. Also, since it can be completed in two semesters, I am able to jump back into the industry right away.
What have been some of the most rewarding moments?
In my Winemaking Theory class, my group was assigned a base wine to make into a sparkling wine using the traditional method also known as Methode Champenoise – the same method they use in Champagne, France! I had never done anything like it before and I knew it would be really involved. Once we finished it, it was completely fabulous and I was really proud of what our group accomplished and all that we learned along the way.
What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
Short-term I hope to gain a variety of production experiences in different regions around the world – and experience the diversity of each region and its varietals. Long-term I want to settle in northern California and help build my own credibility within a respected and established winery. I really want to learn from the experts and be exposed to a lot, so that when it is my turn, I can really make an impact.
What courses stand out as most helpful for your specific career goals?
Every single class I have taken so far will undeniably be useful in my future career but two stand out the most. Wine & Grape Flavor Chemistry because it was so intriguing, comprehensive and really helped dive deeper into the nuances of the complex flavor and aroma interactions of wine. Wine Marketing in the Hotel School was incredibly intriguing to take as well; it gave me great insight into how the industry itself functions and the motivators for different producers around the world.
When it comes to wine and food, what are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the pursuit of balance and quality, especially in food! I love all things artisan – coffee, ice cream, cheese, beer and especially wine. The revival of craft production in everyday products is so exciting and it opens up the opportunity to bring quality into our everyday lives and support those who share the same passion.
I am especially passionate about the “terroir” aspect of wine. It is essentially a “sense of place” that comes with every bottle. A wine should be a distinct representation of when, where and who it came from and elegantly convey that story in a delicious way. It is a unique combination of art and science that makes it endlessly interesting to study.
Have you had a chance to explore the Finger Lakes Wine region? What are your impressions?
I have been lucky enough to be able to work as an intern during my studies for a local winery in both front and back of house operations - tasting room, vineyard, and cellar. It has been great to experience this unique region and compare it to those I have been exposed to in the past. This region really is going through a renaissance and getting a lot of well-earned attention – it is a very exciting time to learn about Finger Lakes wine and winemakers.
How has learning from faculty experts changed your perspective of the field of Enology?
Every faculty member has their own perspective and it is interesting to interface with them all. For instance my advisor, Gavin Sacks, has completely opened up my mind to the parallels of flavor chemistry in wine with that of other food and beverage products and the principles that govern them. The way I taste and perceive foodstuffs is now totally evolved and a lot more fun!
What has surprised you most about the MPS program?
The biggest surprise about the MPS program is the ability to really diversify the coursework you take based upon your specific passions and needs. Even among the Enology MPS students, we all are on varied paths within the program depending on our own interests and future goals.
What is your capstone project focused on?
I am investigating the re-emergence of sulfurous off-aromas in wine after bottling and storage. Essentially, if you have ever bought a bottle of wine and it smelled like rotten eggs or cabbage when you opened it, then sulfurous off-aromas are to blame. Right now, a lot of research is still being done to determine the precursors and causes of this phenomenon, but I am hoping to shed some light on what proactive measures can be done before bottling to prevent development of those odors.
What advice would you give someone embarking on the journey of graduate school?
Spend time working in the industry or field you plan to pursue advanced study in beforehand. It is good to know your end game – it keeps you motivated and provides context for the knowledge and challenges you face during graduate study
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