By Andrea Elmore
Although her bachelor's degree is in philosophy, Amanda Sims '13 knew she wanted her career to be in the wine industry. For aspiring winemakers and viticulturists like her, the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree offered by Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provides scientific and practical experience in viticulture and enology, in an intensive two to three semester program.
Sims '13 decided to pursue an MPS degree with a focus on viticulture to complement her practical enology experience, after working in wineries in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and the United States. Because the MPS program is course-based—rather than research-based—and students may enroll in classes offered by departments across the university, Sims was able to build a broad base of knowledge.
"When returning to school I wanted to take courses that would give me skills useful to have as a manager in the industry, including courses in winemaking, viticulture, sustainable agriculture, soil science, geographic information systems (GIS), and agriculture finance," said Sims.
In addition to pursuing a diverse curriculum of classes, Sims worked with professor of horticulture Alan Lakso to complete a project using GIS and remote sensing to address the variability of the soils in the Finger Lakes.
Sims collaborated with winemaker Johannes Reinhardt to create a report of maps and recommendations that illustrated the variability of soil and temperature on his vineyard site. With the help of Cornell's Nutrient Analysis Laboratory, they created new ratings for soil health specific to Vitis vinifera.
Since graduating in May 2013, Sims has been putting her experience into practice with the viticulture research department at E.J. Gallo as a GIS analyst.
"The MPS degree allowed me to take the time to learn all the facets I wanted to explore about the wine industry," said Sims. "I have a host of new skills and knowledge that I am eager to practice."
For more information on the MPS program, contact Andrea Elmore at email@example.com or 607-255-2539.
Andrea Elmore is the undergraduate coordinator for the Viticulture and Enology Program.