The SOMM Journal

April / May 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 73 of 108

{ }  73 VESTA is a consortium of colleges that pools its resources to advance training in grape-growing and winemaking (the National Science Foundation provided its seed-grant money). For the 29–33 online credits needed to obtain a certificate, tuition is $210 a cred - it hour, and costs for the 30 extra credits needed to get a degree depend on the consortium partner you choose. I found my passion for wine at age 25 in 1995, when I was hired by the hospitality-training program at The Trellis Bar & Grill in Wil - liamsburg, Virginia. Up to then, the only wine I'd known was Bartles & Jaymes, so I loved the job. But I lived in Norfolk, more than 60 miles away, and didn't have a car. My roommate lent me his, but when he left town, I had to find another way to get to work. Having never used public transit before, I took one of my days off to learn the system. At 5 a.m., I boarded a bus and told the driver I needed to get to Williamsburg. He laughed and said it wasn't possible. Instead, my journey required five bus rides: from the beach to downtown Norfolk, from Norfolk to Hampton, from Hampton to Newport News, from Newport News to a business park I had to run across to catch the bus that took me to the edge of James City County, and from Merchant's Square to the back door of The Trellis. The journey was five hours each way. Soon after, I added Amtrak in order to work nights. Why am I sharing my crazy transportation adventures? Because, on the road to a wine education, my VESTA experience has been incredibly similar. Due to its consortium system, I have attended six different schools to obtain my degree (nine when you include transfer credits for general-education classes). That means six dif - ferent email addresses and learning-management systems. Stay- ing organized wasn't easy, and neither was getting the attention of winery staff who could mentor me. Busy as they were, Chris Pearmund and Ashton Lough of Pearmund Cellars in Virginia, along with their assistant winemaker and vineyard manager, helped me with my homework. The apprenticeship was an integral compo - nent of my education, and I am very grateful. In 2013, I had an "aha moment" about certification with The Court of Master Sommeliers. I was working at the Park Hyatt Washington when I saw and sommelier (and now-friend) Nial Rhys Harris García studying The World Atlas of Wine in the cafeteria. A co-worker and I looked at each other and said, "If he can do it, we can do it!" I passed the introductory course in 2014 and be - came certified in 2015, then took the Advanced Sommelier course in 2017. It was intense and intimidating, but I will apply for the test for 2019. It's worth mentioning here that VIN 293 Soils for Viticulture was my favorite subject, giving me the confidence to discuss, say, the ionic-exchange capacity of volcanic soil as compared to clay with a panel of six winemakers. And it all started with VESTA, which provided a foundation for understanding wine in ways I could have never foreseen. To learn more about VESTA, visit vesta- or contact VESTA Program Coordinator Cassandra Clark at Registration for the summer classes— VIN 111 Introduction to Viticulture and VIN 146 Introduction to Enology—is open until May 18. These courses require 16 and eight practicum hours, respectively. Start asking your connec - tions at wineries if they will become mentors. A Master of Science in Plant Science with an Emphasis in Viticulture and Wine is also attainable. "VIN 293 Soils for Viticulture was my favorite subject, giving me the confidence to discuss, say, the ionic-exchange capacity of volcanic soil as compared to clay with a panel of six winemakers."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - April / May 2018