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Cornell Students Intern Abroad and at Local Wineries

By Kari Richards and Ian Merwin

Bingming Thum
Bingming Thum at Domaine Philippe Gilbert in central France

From the seat of a tractor in the Finger Lakes to a wine cellar five stories below street level in Spain, Cornell summer internships open eyes—and doors. Internships are required for all viticulture and enology majors, and this summer Cornell students have interned with winery businesses near and far.

For Singapore native Bingming Thum, the summer with Domaine Philippe Gilbert in central France has been both fruitful and tremendously challenging. The rising senior, who started Cornell as a pre-med major, used his internship to learn firsthand about viticulture in a venerable, old world wine region.

Eric Misiewicz
Eric Misiewicz

"France grows grapes and makes wine in a completely different way than we do, due to tradition, climate, and beliefs," he said. "Much of the wine making industry still looks to France as the Mecca for wine. And in many ways, much of the luxury wine market is still dominated by France."

Junior Eric Misiewicz (photo at right) traveled to Juvé y Camps, a winery located 45 minutes west of Barcelona. As an intern, he has been running chemical, biological, and quality tests on a local specialty—the sparkling wine Cava, which is aged in cellars up to five stories beneath the town.

Closer to campus, other interns have worked in wine cellars and vineyards on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Junior Nathan Littlejohn (left) thrived on the mentoring he received from King Ferry Winery viticulturist Thom Bechtold.

Nathan Littlejohn

"Our professors lay a strong foundation for deliberative and successful decisions," he said. "When these pivotal decisions were being made, Thom would take me through the vineyard and ask my thoughts—a knowledge producing and fortifying experience."

The internships also allow the students to acquire practical skills they can't learn in a classroom. Junior Christine Hansen, learned to drive a tractor during her internship with Lakewood Vineyards, and senior Ben Stamp has been working the bottling line at the family winery. Being a part of the day to day operations at Long Point Winery has given junior Ryan Fessenden the opportunity to explore a potential new business venture for his family's dairy farm.

Whether near or far, internships are a fundamental part of educating the next generation of viticulturists and winemakers. Internships are required for all 33 viticulture and enology majors, and students with minors may also be seeking opportunities. To advertise an internship opportunity, contact Kari Richards at (607) 255-2539 or

Kari Richards is the undergraduate coordinator for the Cornell viticulture and enology undergraduate program. Ian Merwin is the Herman M. Cohn Professor of Horticulture Cornell.