With graduation on the (very close) horizon, I've been thinking a lot about what the Oregon Wine Industry Experience has done for me, and I really want to thank everyone who has been a part of and who has contributed their time and help to this program. When I started at Linfield, I was convinced I was going to study business or communication arts because I really wanted to own a restaurant or become a chef one day. But, over the next two years, I would completely change my course of study. I would discover that I definitely did not want to own a restaurant, and I would also realize that my passion is eating the food, not necessarily making it.
I visited Michael Hampton in the Career Development office last year after I had decided to become a food critic. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to accomplish it; I just knew that I loved food and writing. When I arrived, Michael gave me some really good advice on how to pursue my "dream job." He also stealthily pushed the brochure for the Oregon Wine Industry Experience across the table towards me. I suspiciously eyed the paper in my hands, wondering whether or not I was actually interested in the Oregon Wine Industry. What is the wine industry? As a 20 year-old, I had no idea what it was. I didn't even know it existed...
I know. These facts are even hard for myself to hear, much less admit to the world.
After a brief read through the brochure, I noticed that there was a food and wine pairing section in the program. I was hooked. I didn't even have to deliberate; I knew I wanted to study wine! (With food of course). The summer portion turned into fall harvest with lots of earwigs and fruit sort, and the fall turned into a trip to Burgundy. Papa Winecat (Jeff) and Whitney introduced us to renowned winemakers, toured with us through the Burgundy vines, put up with our bantering, and we also ate exquisite meals. Oh my gosh, the food was so good. This trip was not only about meeting amazing people and eating delicious food, though. I also realized something important: I had grown a deep passion for wine.
Now, I sit at my desk thinking about all that I have learned this year, and I can't help but think about how much more there still is to learn. I love the culture, I love this place, I love the people, and I love wine. (And food still, of course).
So, thank you. Thank you to everyone who made this journey possible. I would not have fallen in love with the Oregon Wine Industry without any of you, and I am forever grateful.