I was slugging out my morning commute the other day, and thought it was time, after nearly two months, to share about my school experience and new classmates.
I’m working toward a 2-year master’s degree in vineyard and winery management at Bordeaux Sciences Agro; the agricultural school within the University of Bordeaux system. It’s both a business and science master’s and covers a wide range of topics from wine chemistry, to grape vine biology, to business management and finance, to wine marketing, and sensory evaluation (…a fancy term for wine tasting). The program has an unusual format (from my experience) in that we all attend the same classes as a group. No picking and choosing topics and schedules. The coursework and administration of the program are entirely in English, although French language is part of the curriculum …and very necessary for everyday life here.
Aside from classroom lectures, the curriculum has included about a dozen field trips to local wineries, vineyards, labs, and a cooperage (barrel maker) around Bordeaux. These visits are often accompanied by a nice lunch, and of course (the main focus of our studies)….some wine! Next week a five day trip to Montpelier (on the French Mediterranean) for a conference and more winery visits. Shucks.
There are 15 of us in this year’s induction to the program from nine different countries (….U.S., France, Italy, Mexico, Greece, Finland, China, Columbia, and the Netherlands) and we come from a variety of not necessarily wine-related backgrounds (…continuing students, hotel management, biomedical sales, and one retired environmental engineer). Most are in their 20’s, a couple in their early 30’s …and then me. On the surface it’s a big age difference, but in reality it’s nothing, and I feel as young as ever. They’re an intelligent, engaged, and fun bunch, and we have a blast learning about (and even having some fun with) all our cultural differences. Most striking is how we’ve bonded together as a big family (including spouses and kids). We still have a lot of experiences ahead of us, and imagine we’ll remain a big family well into the future!