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Student Focus

Celebrating the Viticulture & Enology class of 2021

By Brynn Weeks Wilkins and Kathy Arnink.

The Viticulture & Enology Undergraduate Class of 2021 has experienced a collegiate career unlike any other. Throughout their time on campus the graduates have braved the pandemic, studied abroad, participated in research, and interned on harvests. As they move on from their adventures as students, we asked a few Viticulture & Enology graduates to reflect on their favorite memories, share their future plans, and pass on wisdom to future V&E students.

Colden Proe (’21)

Colden Proe (’21)

What was your favorite class and/or experience at Cornell?

I loved helping out with field research my first year in Justine Vanden Heuvel's lab. In November of my first year, we had to take vineyard soil samples right after several days of rain. I remember getting up before the sunrise, driving an hour to a vineyard on Seneca Lake, and pulling 80 centimeter-deep soil samples out of the mud over the next 4 hours. By the end, we were completely caked in mud, but in high spirits. When I say I’m down to get my hands dirty, this is what I’m talking about!

What will you miss most about Cornell?

Throughout my time at Cornell, I have met so many amazing people! Unfortunately, I could never stay in touch with all of them! I will miss all of the wonderful folks I have met, and the brilliant community that all of us have helped to create.

What are your future plans?

I’ll be exploring! I left home in Upstate NY to move to the West Coast this summer and I’m currently working in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley through harvest. Before I return home I’m hoping to work harvests in California, Washington, and British Columbia to get the fullest experience I can.

Any advice for future V&E students?

Listen to every conversation you hear, talk to everyone you can, read every book you can get your hands on. There’s so much to be learned at Cornell that you won’t get from lectures. Keep up your thirst for knowledge and you’ll never be disappointed!

Julia Schwartz (’21)

Julia Schwartz (’21)

What was your favorite class and/or experience at Cornell?

My favorite V&E experience was conducting viticulture research at the University of Porto in Porto, Portugal as a CALS Global Fellow. It let me experience a full cultural immersion and gain more understanding on other viticulture regions aside from the Northeast in the US. I am proud of being the guinea pig for a couple of Cornell’s V&E international experiences which were huge successes! I’m hoping that these great experiences I left behind will be a stepping stone for many incoming V&E students to enjoy them and absorb as much as I did.

What will you miss most about Cornell?

I will miss the small and close knit community that the V&E family represented to me. Everyone was very collaborative, transparent and friendly. We were even very close with faculty members and got to know them personally outside of class.

What are your future plans?

I am currently working in the food industry in the Research & Development department at PepsiCo, and living in NYC.

Any advice for future V&E students?

My advice would be to become close to professors. Ask questions, talk to them about life and get to know them well. They are very knowledgeable and have been in the field for years. They are very kind people that will root for you and have your back even beyond your time at Cornell. Take advantage of the small program to become close to your peers, and build a close community among your classmates and professors.

Allyson Wentworth (’21)

Allyson Wentworth (’21)

What was your favorite class and/or experience at Cornell?

As a first year student, I had the opportunity to work with a post-doctoral student on her research with root signaling with phylloxera. This experience was fundamental in my decision to continue pursuing the viticulture major at Cornell and kick-started my interest in integrated pest management.

What will you miss most about Cornell?

What I miss most about Cornell is the collaborative environment fostered by the students, faculty, and staff. Everyone had different passions and expertise that they were willing to share with others. This broadened my knowledge base and enabled me to continue learning about viticulture outside of the traditional classroom setting.

What are your future plans?

I currently work for Dairy One/Agricultural Consulting Services in Lansing, NY as an agronomy technician and service manager. I have been applying my Cornell experiences in field while working with local vegetable producers on their integrated pest management plans. I am looking to expand my client base by developing relationships with local vineyards and hopyards to help build and strengthen their integrated pest and nutrient management plans.

Any advice for future V&E students?

Anyone who is looking to work directly in the industry either as a winemaker or vineyard manager should strongly consider taking a semester off to complete a harvest internship in the location they want to work. I think that this was one of the most beneficial experiences I had because it made me realize that I didn’t want to work for a vineyard/winery but rather consult with them. It allowed me to gain the experience I would need to further develop relationships and consult with vineyards in the Finger Lakes.

Congratulations to the recent graduates!

Brynn Wilkins is the undergraduate program coordinator for the viticulture and enology major at Cornell University. Kathy Arnink is the enology lecturer and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Cornell University Enology and Viticulture program in the Food Science department.