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A Class to Wine About

Wake up at 8 AM on a Sunday, load in a van, stop at Sheetz for the inevitable breakfast/bathroom stop, and hunker down for a five-hour drive – it’s field trip time. Except, when you wake up from that groggy van sleep, you aren’t getting out to hear a lecture. You step out into the cold air of the Finger Lakes and walk into your first of 14 wineries in 3 days. It’s wine tasting time.


My friend Kaila and I posing for a quick pic between tastings!
My friend Kaila and I posing for a quick pic between tastings!

This past weekend, I was on this field trip with one of my courses here – Wine in a Vessel. This course isn’t all wine tasting. We learn about ancient wine production, research wine regions of the world, and create wine vessels out of clay. Boring, right? And there, is also this minor component of tasting (and subsequently drinking) wine throughout the semester and for 3-days in the Finger Lakes of New York. You could say it’s an okay class.

On this trip, the weather was a bit lackluster, so we didn’t have the gorgeous views of sunny days, but we still endured the tastings and tours. We tried Reislings, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc… all the wines you can imagine. And the incredible (and sad thing for a broke college student) is that we did actually begin to taste the flavors and smell the aromas of the wine. I think our class of 20 actually began to learn what good wine really is. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to come out of a $20-for-5-litres box.

Beyond wine, we toured the vineyards to learn about grape growing and to take in the beautiful fall colors. We spent nights in our hotel studying in a daze for our upcoming tests. We explored little towns, ate Thai food, and probably spent a little too much money.

The final and most beautiful day of our trip.
The final and most beautiful day of our trip.

When I signed up for this course, it was to meet a requirement. I still needed an Interdisciplinary Colloquia course for my graduation requirements, and Wine in a Vessel fit the bill. I didn’t know it would turn into this incredible experience of developing a palate, learning how to work with clay, and bonding with these people I never would have met otherwise. It’s been a great experience. While it’s challenging at times to try and understand the chemistry of wine production and weeding the small vineyard we have here on campus, I have enjoyed it all.

So, while I didn’t expect to be taking a course on wine when I came into college as a Wildlife Conservation POE, I wasn’t entirely mad about sitting on a deck with a wine glass in hand for college credit.