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Andrea Perez, a fourth-year undergraduate in viticulture and also enology, inspects cabernet sauvignon grapes during the grape crush at UC Davis. The grapes room crushed for upcoming classes and also research projects. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Could there be a an ext romantic major than wine? (Well, viticulture and also enology, to it is in exact.) students swish mouthfuls the merlot and compare lock to note of coffee, lavender, wormwood and star anise — for a grade. Lock roam the campus vineyards through a professor and classmates that don wide-brimmed sun hats as they check grape leaves for their hydration. Lock crush grapes, ferment wine, and — why not? — even travel to France because that internships.

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Most college student in the major will tell friend it requires much more than lifting a pinky as you sip a pinot noir. Viticulture and also enology (VEN) leads to a bachelor’s in science, after all, and the coursework is commensurate v the title. Viticulture is the research of grape cultivation, while enology is the research of wine and also winemaking. Lab work-related takes up a significant portion the the course load, together does physics labor. 

“If you’re doing hand-operated labor, you need to enjoy it,” states Kaitlyn Glynn, a junior in viticulture and enology, and also a peer advisor because that the BFTV cluster (Biological and agricultural Engineering, Food Science and also Technology, Textiles and also Clothing, and also Viticulture and Enology). “You should absolutely like science, how components work with each other to produce a beautiful wine, and be happy functioning outside.”

Students to speak they chose the major because their passion extends past the taste of the wine. Castle revel in the complex grape-growing procedure and the scientific research from grape breeding to fermentation.

Viticulture and also enology coursework


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Andy walker (right) talks v students in the vineyard external theRobert Mondavi Institute for Food and also Wine. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

The prerequisites because that the VEN major include biological science, chemistry, physics and calculus, and a broad introduction to viticulture (i.e., grape growing) and also winemaking. Glynn claimed the prereqs were a an obstacle for, but she powered v them.

“I’ve make the efforts to take at the very least one VEN class every quarter to remind myself — it is why ns doing it, what ns on track for and why ns love this career ns trying come do.”

Graduating an elderly Austin Luse’s childhood memories of his father’s winery store him motivated. He take it a year and also a fifty percent off in between community college and also UC Davis come intern in ~ a winery, which has kept him grounded through long hrs of lab work.

“I thrived up climb barrels and I flourished used come the smells — harvest smells indescribable, greatly like grape juice yet much more facility than that,” Luse says. “It assisted me come go ago to school with an ext motivation, wanting to job-related at a winery complete time. A the majority of students go to institution without a check out of wherein that will certainly take them. It gave me perspective and made every little thing feel more tangible.”

Life in the viticulture and enology major


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Left come right: Kelly Gifford, grace Sayre, Bridget McLoughlin (viticulture and also enology majors) and Jill Bilodeaux (a biotechnology major) work to record and make their varied yeast mixtures during grape crush course in the winery at Robert Mondavi Institute. The goal of the course is to offer students useful experience in winemaking on a tiny scale. (UC Davis/Gregory Urquiaga)

Depth needs in the significant require more biological science, microbiology and also statistics, and also 11 viticulture classes and also three labs — manual classes such together wine production, sensory evaluation and wine stability. Luse states he occasionally spent 20 to 30 hours a mainly on lab reports, but he claims the extra time is worthwhile.

“UC Davis is an authority on alcohol research and also education,” that says. “You’re going come the college where well known winemakers have gone, and it’s help the wine sector today. You being collection up because that success.”

Founded in its current type in 1935, after the repeal the prohibition, the department has actually a storied history. UC Davis wine researchers such as Maynard Amerine and Albert Winkler emerged the microclimate zone device still in usage by today’s grapegrowers.

It’s additionally a small significant that permits for personalized attention. On-campus clubs and organizations meet regularly and help students develop connections with each other and industry leaders. Luse pointed out that wine is a tiny industry, too, and he plans to work with his classmates throughout his career. Glynn added that she appreciates the many opportunities to affix with peers.

“I like being in a small significant because you acquire to recognize everyone better,” she says. “As a junior and senior, you view the same world often. Everyone has actually a various background and also you find out from every other. It build a community.”

Internships and also research


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Grapes in ~ Roduner Ranch, south of Merced, California. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Many college student in viticulture and enology take it the possibility to intern at a winery throughout the summer or take time off from college to occupational a like or harvest season in the fall, i m sorry the room supports.

The department additionally has wine industry connections worldwide, and it compiles a list of winery and also wine-related internships. College student can apply for awards for internships in it s as beautiful as picture wine-growing regions. Present awards include:

Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin — Burgundy, France​Marchesi Antinori — Tenuta Tignanello, Tuscany, ItalyInternational Wine and Food society — destination proposed through student​DEVO Davis Enology and Viticulture company — destination propose by student

Careers because that VEN majors


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Nicolas Garza, a an elderly majoring in viticulture and also enology, areas a barrel to record crushed grapes during the annual grape crush at the Robert Mondavi Institute. (UC Davis/Gregory Urquiaga)

Viticulture and enology alumna Alysha Stehly to be voted 2018 human of the Year by San Diego City Beat because, together the record wrote: “Agriculture is a tough business in mountain Diego however Stehly and also her husband, chris Broomell, who are likewise parents to a 1-year-old son, room doing the right.” The couple run Vesper Vineyards and also craft wines from local grapes. Stehly is likewise the winemaker in ~ Stehleon Vineyards, she parents’ label.

Right after ~ graduation, Stehly launched her own winery in a region not well-known for that wine. She credits her relations with setting her up because that success. Stehly often calls ~ above classmates and past professors for advice.

“When you collection your mind to something you have the right to really attain it, and it’s great to have actually connections locally and also at a street so you have the right to have someone to help,” Stehly says. “Davis was great for structure those relationships where you’re like, ‘I’m not sure what to do!’”

Her work require her to undertake hats as both a viticulturist and an enologist. “For either place you have to be okay with crazy hours sometimes and making decisions on the fly and also high anxiety situations and not gift in control, also though you’re claimed to be the one in control,” she says. “You should be all set to role with just how things go.”

Stehly likewise teaches viticulture and also enology at Mira Costa College, wherein she spreads the handmade of winemaking throughout she region. “The contemporary rendition of alcohol in mountain Diego is really new,” she says. “I watch civilization plant their very first grapes and nine years later they have a successful winery too. I love to share what i do and also watch other world fall in love v it too.”

Understanding both viticulture and enology opens up many avenues within the wine business, follow to the viticulture and enology department.

Enologists may find positions as:

cellar workerslab technicianswinemakerswine consultantswine criticsfermentation researchersmanagers in wineries and other wine-related businesses, such as cooperages, distribution and also retail businesses

Viticulturists may find positions as:

field workersvineyard managerscrop researcherspest control advisersgrower relations consultantsfruit negociants​agricultural loan police officers in vineyards and also crop-related businesses

Luse says the sees even more comprehensive possibilities, native brewing and distillery occupational to chemical engineering and also lab work. Glynn pointed out the potential in ~ the hospitality industry, as well as plant and microbiology work. “There’s so countless ways you deserve to go, and also that’s what ns love,” she says.

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But for she part, Glynn says she desires to stick close come the wine. “I’ve never ever been interested in a desk job — i love working v my hands to make something,” she says. “Wine is so unique; it’s one of the coolest things you deserve to create. I love exactly how the soil and conditions create a wine you would never ever taste again. Every the pieces of the puzzle will never ever be the very same again. I desire to make that unique thing.”

Rebecca Huval is digital controlling editor ~ above the web team, and she edit the Majors Blog.