Where are They Now?
By Andrea Elmore
Sabrina Lueck '10 (3rd from right) mixes up grape skins in a bladder press with students at Walla Walla Community College.
Students in Cornell's Viticulture and Enology program graduate with skills for managing vineyards and running wineries. Graduates Sabrina Lueck '10, Michael Reidy '06, and Janice Perlstein '09 are working in education, winemaking, and marketing, and their education hasn't stopped yet.
Lueck headed west after graduaation. Now at the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College in Washington State, she is involved with production and sales at the program's commercial winery as well as management and teaching in the academic program.
"My co-workers are all amazingly kind, intelligent, hard-working people," she said. "I have found the students here to be enthusiastic and eager to learn."
This summer Lueck will be teaching her first full course and is currently launching a wine club that will support the program and help fund student scholarships.
"My next goal is to complete my Master's while continuing to work," said Sabrina. "That degree will enable me to take on more teaching responsibilities and classes, and I'm fortunate that the Walla Walla Community College team is supportive of my ambitions."
Closer to his alma mater, Michael Reidy '06 has spent the last five years working at Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards in Hector, New York. He was promoted from Assistant Winemaker to Winemaker in 2010 and is now responsible for the production of Hazlitt's Heritage brands. Reidy has helped to produce wines that have won best of class, sweepstakes and best of show awards, including an award for their 2009 Gewurztraminer at the Riverside International Wine Competition.
Short-term, Reidy is hoping to continue to maintain the prestige and wine quality of Hazlitt, but long term he might return to academia.
"I'm interested in someday getting back to the education aspect of the industry and exploring teaching, so I can help shape the next generation of winemakers in the region," he said. "I am continually learning at the winery, and it's important to pass that on."
Michael Reidy '06 adjusts the crusher-destemmer at Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
Janice Perlstein '09 is using her knowledge to help consumers made educated wine selections. After interning at Chateau Montelena winery in the Napa Valley, Perlstein joined Moore Brothers Wine Company in Pennsauken, New Jersey, which specializes in artisan wines from France, Italy, Germany, and the United States.
Her responsibilities include assisting customers in selecting wines for specialty wine tastings, organizing wine parties, leading wine tastings, and preparing wine pairings for dinner parties. She plans to get involved with marketing for the company. "I think a social media marketing campaign could triple our revenue," she said. "It's a sales boost I was able to accomplish when I worked for Bellview Winery in New Jersey. "I thoroughly enjoy being around so many people that know so much about wine," she said. "I am learning more than I have at any other job before."
Andrea Elmore is undergraduate coordinator for the Viticulture Enology program housed in the food science department at Cornell.