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Miriam Hawk, Senior
B.S. in Horticulture with an option in Viticulture and Enology. Minor in Business Entrepreneurship. Graduating Spring 2012.
Growing up in southern Oregon, I was very active in FFA and knew that I wanted to be involved in agriculture. It was my passion, but I wasn't completely sure what type of agriculture interested me the most. One day I was driving through the vineyards near Jacksonville, OR, with my mother and she suggested viticulture - it was definitely a light bulb moment!
The Viticulture and Enology curriculum at times can be challenging - a lot of science and math courses - but also very rewarding. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by the course load. It's crucial to get involved during your time at Oregon State in organizations such as the VITIS Club, the Fermentation Club in the Food Science Department, and the Horticulture Club. You'll get to met some cool people and you may even have an opportunity to travel.
I made internships a priority throughout my education. My first internship was in central California at Mid Valley Agricultural Services, where I was sent out into large production vineyards to look for pests and diseases. When I'd find evidence, I'd mark the area for pest advisors. After working in some of Oregon's smaller vineyards, it was interesting to see larger scale wine production.
My second internship took place in a small, hybrid vineyard in Vermont. It was a huge learning experience because I ended up helping rejuvenate the vineyard from the ground up. I also got to employ some of my business education by developing a production and marketing plan for the vineyard.
Last spring, I accepted a job as a cellarhand in New Zealand at Kim Crawford Wines. As a cellarhand, I got to experience many different jobs in the wine making process - racking, inoculating, filtering, and more. It was hard work with long hours - 12 hour days, 6 days a week - but I also made it a priority to travel with the money I made, visiting Thailand, Indonesia and other exotic places.
After I graduate this spring, I'm going to California to work for Gallo Winery in their Livingston Pilot Winery, assisting winemakers with processing - pressing, racking and inoculations. It's a great place to start my career.
Eventually, I'd like to get into the business end of wine - marketing and selling the product - and go back to school to complete my MBA. However, I feel l should understand every aspect of wine production before I begin my ventures into wine marketing.
OSU's Viticulture and Enology program is a salt-of-the-earth program compared to some of the more well-known programs in California. The Department of Horticulture is full of passionate, genuine professors who really know their stuff and encourage you to take a hands-on approach to learning about the the science of growing grapes and making wine. The College of Agricultural Sciences has great faculty and numerous opportunities for you to perform research. Everyone is enthusiastic and authentic about what they are doing and it shows!
Photo by Hannah O'Leary
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