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Bachelors of Science in Horticulture
Class of 1994
When he graduated from the Department of Horticulture at OSU in 1994, Jason Tosch was interested in Floriculture. He spent 10 years working in a fresh cut flower business as the head grower and as the VP of Production. As time went on he saw a wealth of opportunity developing in the Oregon wine grape industry. "OSU offered [me] the opportunity to become adaptable and discover how plant systems work." During his last year in school he worked a harvest season for Tyee Cellars in Corvallis. Today, Jason Tosch is the Director of Viticulture at Anne Amie Vineyards in Carlton Oregon.
Since joining the wine industry, he has witnessed changes in the Oregon wine grape industry as it continues to grow. He has watched vineyard managers shift their focus to sustainability and whole system management methods for crop production. "OSU has changed in the language of the institution from an economic-focused model of study to one that incorporates environmental and ecolocical sustainability".
What advice does he have for Viticulture and Enology students today? "Do as many internships as possible. Travel to other areas of V&E and compare what you see at home to what you see abroad. Make sure you drink wine."
B.S. Degree, Viticulture & Enology option in Horticulture
Class of 2007
After having a class tour of Oregon State University’s Woodhall Vineyard, Travis knew he wanted to one day be a vineyard manager and pursue a career in viticulture. At the time, he was a freshman, and later he would return to that very same vineyard as the student manager.
Travis grew up in eastern Oregon and was first introduced to wine as a child when his parents became friends with the local wine shop owners. “As I learned more about [wine] and how it was made, I was drawn closer to it and naturally wanted to pursue a career in the wine and grape industry,” he explains. Having a long line of OSU Alumni in his family, Travis chose to attend OSU and continue the family tradition. However, the biggest motivator was that the close proximity of OSU to the Willamette Valley and connections to the winegrape industry. He knew this was a place where he could continue his professional education and build connections in the wine local wine industry. As a student, Travis enjoyed the connections he made with the horticulture faculty and staff, especially Scott Robbins, the OSU Horticulture Farms Manager who also managed the research and teaching vineyard, Woodhall. Travis became the student vineyard manager at Woodhall and spent 18 months tending the vines and learning as much as he could before graduating. “The experiences and memories I had in the vineyard I will never forget and [these] continue to be some of the most valuable pieces of knowledge I gained at OSU,” Travis reminisces. According to Travis, the job experience at OSU provided him with a safe place to ask questions and make mistakes while networking with and getting to know faculty and industry members. Travis now works for Advanced Vineyard Systems, a vineyard management company in the Yamhill area, where he manages eight vineyards encompassing 350 acres. He enjoys working in the vineyards, leading his crew and tackling the many challenges of working in multiple vineyards. In the future, Travis has interests in developing and managing his own small vineyard and winery, but he considers his current position within the Willamette Valley’s winegrape industry a dream job. Travis was also featured in the Capital Press in July 2010.
Bachelor of Science, Enology Option - Food Science & Technology
Class of 2008
When Bryan Weil began taking classes as an electrical engineering major in 2000, he would not have predicted that eight years later he’d be tasting wine 50 times a day as part of his job. In June, Bryan started a job as a production enologist at Hogue Cellars, the second largest winery in Washington. As a production enologist, Bryan evaluates the wine inventory weekly, ensures that standard operating procedures (SOPs) are being followed in the cellars, places work orders for moving wine, and coordinates bottle preparation. Bryan will likely hold this position through two vintages, at which time he will be promoted to assistant winemaker. In February, Constellation (Hogue Cellars’ parent company) is sending him to work in a winery in New Zealand for 2-3 months as a vintage assistant. Bryan became qualified for this great opportunity through a series of occupational and educational experiences.
Bryan discovered his calling during his two years in the culinary arts program at Linn-Benton Community College. It was there he took his first wine and food pairing class. While at Linn-Benton, he also worked in Dayton at the Joel Palmer House, as a wine steward, and in the tasting room at Domaine Serene. With a passion for food and wine, Bryan decided to pursue a career in winemaking. In order to become a winemaker, he was encouraged by those at Domaine Serene to get a bachelor’s degree. So after his experience in the culinary arts, Bryan enrolled in the Food Science & Technology Department at OSU, majoring in enology and viticulture.
Bryan graduated from OSU in June 2008. He has nothing but positive things to say about the Viticulture and Enology (V&E) program. He found himself in a tight knit family, “They take you in… professors, students, office staff, everybody. Each person had something special to give to the program. There was a real passion about the industry.”
One of the most worthwhile experiences Bryan had while at OSU was interning at Tyee Wine Cellars in Corvallis. Because Tyee is relatively small, producing 2000 cases annually, Bryan experienced various parts of the industry, from the vineyard to the cellar to the tasting room. Being able to relate what you are learning in school to your job was invaluable, “You can ask your professors practical questions, like ‘why was I doing this at my job?’.” The enology program was also flexible, and allowed for creativity. Bryan and five other OSU students made eight barrels of Pinot noir as an independent project.
Life in Washington is busy so far. While Bryan misses the friends and football of Corvallis, he’s enjoying the opportunity and challenges at Hogue, a winery that produces 600,000 cases of wine annually. Also, working for the largest wine company in the world allows room for a lot of professional growth. When asked about the future, Bryan expressed possible interest in graduate school, or eventually being able to combine his culinary and winemaking passions in a winery/restaurant or catering business. But for now, he is concentrating on excelling at Hogue. And of course, he’s drinking wine. His current favorite is Washington Malbec.
Bachelors of Science, Viticulture Option of Horticulture
Class of 2007
Alex Cabrera, a recent Viticulture Undergraduate Program graduate, was inspired to pursue an education into viticulture after having exposure to Peruvian pisco, a clear, unadulterated brandy made from distilled wine. He had his first viticulture experience working at his extended family’s pisco business in Peru, doing back-breaking work with pergola trellised grapes several summers ago. Originally a student of biochemistry and biophysics program at OSU, Alex decided to switch to the Viticulture and Enology program to pursue the science and art of grape growing and wine making that he was so fascinated by while working in Peru as well as reading the literature.
When asked what he liked most about the OSU Viticulture and Enology program, Alex replied “The staff. The fact that several professors and instructors in both the horticulture and food science departments were always there outside of the classroom to answer my many questions and give advice greatly helped my learning.”
Alex graduated this March from OSU. He has taken a position as an assistant vineyard manager at Abacela Vineyards and Winery located outside of Roseburg in the Umpqua AVA. Alex was an intern at Abacela Vineyards and Winery during the summer of 2006, where he gained a great deal of experience working with over 20 winegrape varieties. Alex believes that this internship helped him to start understanding both the science and art of grape growing, reinforcing the knowledge gained in the classroom with practical vineyard experience.
“I was very lucky to have a great boss and teacher, Earl Jones, as well as working alongside a very qualified staff,” Alex explains.
Alex Cabrera graduated from the Viticulture option this March. He has chosen to stay with the Oregon winegrape industry to due the focus on quality and precision in grape production.
Bachelor of Science
Class of 2006
Originally from Bellingham Washington, Evan has enjoyed his journey at OSU. While studying grape production and winemaking, Evan has worked as the Student Vineyard Manager at OSU’s Woodhall Vineyard. His responsibilities have included basic vineyard management and maintenance as well as interacting with University Researchers to help manage their projects.
Upon graduation, Evan will begin working full time for Advanced Vineyard Systems Inc, a premier vineyard design, development, and management company. Evan will work as a Site Manager overseeing crews as they develop and manage vineyard land in the North Willamette Valley. “I’m looking forward to being in the heart of the industry” Evan shares. “I look forward to learning from the people who have made this industry so successful.”
When asked about his experience as a student at OSU, Evan replies “I was so excited my Junior year when I found out about the Viticulture and Enology option OSU offered. This is what I’d always wanted to do!” As a Horticulture student, Evan has enjoyed the small class sizes, the accessibility to faculty and resources, and the fact that “the faculty seemed interested in my success”.
In the future, Evan hopes to be growing grapes and making wine of his own. Until then, he is looking forward to learning as much as he can while enjoying “being a part of the highest quality Pinot noir production in the world”.