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Chilean Student Studies Enology at Cornell


By Kari Richards, Undergraduate Coordinator, VIEN Program


For senior Adriana Coderch, winemaking runs in the family. A native of Rio de Janiero, Coderch spent much of her childhood in neighboring Chile, where her father founded the highly regarded Valdivieso and VIA Wines companies. By age 11, she had set her heart on studying enol­ogy. The new Cornell viticulture and enology (VIEN) undergraduate major was established just in time for her to realize that ambition, and she began her studies at Cornell in 2006.   

Coderch says that her Cornell courses and experiences have been excellent preparation for joining the family business. "Cornell is huge—there are seven different colleges to take classes from—students should take advantage of that," she said.  One of her favorite professors is Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate and Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor Emeritus of Humane Letters, who taught her freshman chemistry class and continues to be a mentor and inspiration. In addition to classes in chemistry, enology, and food science, she credits the broad background provided by courses in viticulture, economics, and marketing for preparing her to assume a leading role with VIA Wines.   

Coderch has used her roots in Chile, a dynamic New World wine region, to enrich the VIEN program. In 2008, her family hosted a group of VIEN majors during a field trip to Chile at their Chilcas estate, located in the Maule region near Talca. The Chilcas estate serves as the family homestead, the main winery, as well as the site of their Oveja Negra (Black Sheep) olive oil production. The Coderch family treated the group to their gracious hospitality and a rare opportunity to learn about a large winery operation—they produce over one million cases as year—in a very different viticultural environment.   

During the fall of 2009, Coderch took a semester off to return to Chile and learn the trade from her father in the sales department at VIA Wines, where she researched new wine markets for distribution of the company's products. This provided a taste of things to come, as she defines her future role within the family wine business. "I've learned a lot and have seen how markets can change according to con­sumer preferences," Coderch said. After graduating from Cornell this May, she hopes to earn an MBA and work for her family's wine business, focusing on wine quality and international marketing.