As a rising junior studying Horticulture and Agribusiness at UGA with dreams of managing or owning a vineyard, I decided to travel to Italy so I could participate in the Viticulture and Enology Maymester program. One of the most educational parts of the program was the wine labs, where I was able to refine my palate and use my sensory skills to evaluate the different qualities of wine. I was able to compare the flavors of white wines versus red wines and learn how two of the same type of wine can taste depending on what regions they were produced in. These experiences have helped to deepen my understanding of viticulture and enology, and have equipped me with critical skills and insights that will shape my future business decisions in the wine industry. 

Through the wine labs in Italy, I was introduced to the very interesting concept of terroir—the combination of soil, climate, and other environmental factors that influence the characteristics of grapes and wine quality. And by studying different wine regions (such as Southern vs. Northern Italy) and their distinct terroirs, I gained a profound appreciation for the influence of location on grape varieties and the taste/quality of the wine. The knowledge I was able to gain helped me form preferences that will guide me in selecting the most suitable grape varieties that I would prefer to cultivate for my ideal vineyard. I am now able to acknowledge the specific terroir conditions that contribute to the certain quality or flavor of the wine I would prefer to produce and may use this knowledge for site selection in the future.

The most insightful aspect of the wine labs was the emphasis on wine analysis, which helped me understand the differing qualities that influence wine flavor and quality. Understanding the impact of acidity levels, pH balance, and sugar content on the flavor of the wine will enable me to make informed opinions or decisions regarding wine production and aging choices. By learning these many techniques to assess grapes and wines, I have gained critical knowledge for making future business decisions. This knowledge has helped me begin to actualize the business I hope to one day own. Since coming back from Italy, I have begun to draft my ideal business, now knowing everything key to curating my dream vineyard and winery. I will now look back upon my memories of the wine labs with gratitude as they will continue to help me throughout my ongoing career.

Tartaric acid crystals formed on the bottom of cork from a wine bottle used for lab.
A whiteboard from class describing one of the wines analyzed during wine lab.