On Feb. 4, 2012 Auburn University students, representing the College of Human Sciences, traveled to Napa Valley, Calif. to expand their repertoire of knowledge about fine wines. The students spent a week wandering through wine country attending tastings, pairings and vineyard tours while preparing for the Certified Specialist of Wine test in April. Passing the CSW qualifies these students as a Certified Specialist of Wine.
Find more videos like this on Auburn Family
Alison Norby, a senior at Auburn majoring in hotel and restaurant management, was able to secure a spot on the Napa trip. “I have been looking forward to the opportunity to go on this trip since I first selected my major,” Norby says. She explained that the group visited three different vineyards, and the students were educated on the unique viticulture and how the vines and grapes are grown and harvested at each vineyard. They also were taught to recognize the differences between wines from different regions. The students participated in food and wine pairings and learned certain flavors that should be served with particular wines.
The Napa trip focused on expanding the students’ knowledge about wine, but Norby says it was also prepared them for the CSW test. Ultimately the students were there to learn, and Norby says they learned through hands-on education. They were able to experience the wine making process from start to finish, which will help them remember the material they will be tested on for the CSW.
While in Napa, the students stayed in Victorian homes owned by the Trinchero family estates. The Trinchero family estates, along with Auburn University, fund the Napa experience for the 12 students as well as the cost associated with the CSW test. Auburn University is one of only two universities invited to participate in this educational experience.
Norby excitedly says her favorite part of the trip was a game the group played with the aroma wheel. She explains, “When you describe wines, you talk about the smell. For example, the aroma can be fruity or have a mineral smell. Our group split into two teams, and we had to spin a wheel that had different wine aromas on it. The names were covered and we had to guess the correct smell.” Norby says she enjoyed this part of the trip because it helped her learn in a fun way.
By seeing the ins and outs of beverage distribution, Norby feels more prepared to enter into the hotel, restaurant and event planning industry. Norby says, “In recent years people have been educating themselves on different wines. Wine is trending in our industry. Catering is part of event planning, and I need to be knowledgeable in wines to have a well-rounded career.” Norby is eager to apply what she learned in Napa toward her future plans.