By Whitney Baxter
A new graduate student organization hopes to spread interest in wines and vineyard management.
Last fall, the Vine and Wine Club officially became an Iowa State University-recognized student organization. Open to any student 21 years of age or older, the club meets monthly to discuss viticulture (the science of growing grapes), taste different wines and learn about the winemaking process.
Aude Watrelot, club advisor and assistant professor of enology in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, had experience with a similar club when she was at California State University, Fresno. Their enology society brought in speakers to talk all about wine.
“I felt something was missing here at Iowa State,” Watrelot said of the absence of a wine-related student organization.
So, she started discussing with students in her lab the possibility of forming a similar club on campus. One of those students was Alex Gapinski, a food science and human nutrition graduate student at the time and now a staff member in Watrelot’s lab.
Gapinski became a founding member and president of the club, serving alongside club treasurer Yiliang Cheng, a Ph.D. candidate in food science and human nutrition.
Gapinski said the club is driven by what students want to learn. Members are encouraged to suggest topics they want to discuss during upcoming meetings.
While wine tasting is part of their meetings, they take the tasting a step further. Brooke Dietsch, current club president and graduate student in horticulture, said they will print off descriptions about the conditions in which the grapes used to make the wine were grown. Weather conditions and geography where grapes are grown all play a role in the resulting wine’s aroma and taste.
Later this spring, the club plans to take field trips to the vineyard at the ISU Horticulture Research Station north of Ames.
Current club members encourage all students to consider joining if they meet the 21 and older age requirement. The first meeting is free to students if they just want to learn more about the club. However, if they want to participate in the testing or become an official club member, they will need to pay the $25/semester club dues.
“Bring your curiosity,” Gapinski said. “You don’t have to be a vine and wine expert.”
The club's first meeting of the spring 2024 semester was Feb. 5. They will meet the following Mondays during the rest of this semester:
- Monday, March 4
- Monday, April 1
- Monday, April 22
All meetings occur from 5:30-7 p.m. in 2379 Food Sciences Building (Culinary Discovery Lab) unless specified otherwise.