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Anastasiya Berst | Food Science & Technology - Enology & Viticulture | Senior | 1st Generation college student, born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
My focus at OSU is Enology & Viticulture, i.e. winemaking, and that pretty much sums up my passion… wine! Wine is a direct reflection of the soil it comes from, and the climate that the grapes grew in. Every major region grows grapes and makes wine differently, so it’s also an interesting way to learn about cultural practices and history. I’m also very interested in studying foreign languages - it’s a big challenge to learn a new language, but every step of the way is rewarding in its own way. You get to talk to new people, learn about new cultures, and if you’re lucky, travel the world! Wine is made everywhere, and after college I hope to harvest wine grapes in different countries and practice languages!
I wanted to pursue a science-based degree that had a promising job outlook and didn’t require graduate school. Enology & Viticulture is a field of study that builds a strong foundation in the sciences, like chemistry and microbiology, while teaching a technical skill, winemaking and grape growing. Plus, wine is fun and I will continue learning about it beyond college. I hope that my studies will teach me what I need in order to make a nice glass of bubbly.
The wine industry has so many jobs available, from lab technician to winemaker to head of marketing to sommelier. I want to work in many of these roles and learn, hands-on, about the process: from soil to grapes to wine to bottle to glass. I’d like to work for an Italian importing company, to practice speaking Italian and learn about what it takes to sell wine internationally. I’d also like to produce my own wines some day, and I’m especially interested in sparkling wines. AgSci is helping me get my foot in the door in the wine industry, no matter what job I end up doing.
Through my degree program, I’ve made many connections in our community. For several years now I’ve worked at Tyee Wine Cellars - a local winery whose first winemaker was OSU’s former professor and wine researcher, Barney Watson. At Tyee, I’ve gained a lot of experience in winery operations. Also, I’ve helped bottle wine for Vincent Wine Company (pictured below).
After my first year of college, I took some time off to regain clarity and figure out what I actually wanted to be when I grew up. I worked several jobs, overtime, to save enough money to travel. With my hard earned money, I spent three months in Russia, as a volunteer English tutor. During my time there, I lived with several families that completely opened their homes to me, as if I was family. I was there to help them practice their English. We cooked together, played cards together, and took road trips together on the weekends. The warmth they showed me, taking me in as if I was family, really changed my perspective. Since that experience, I have tried to be as welcoming to others as those Russian families were to me.
The main challenge that I have faced in continuing my education is being able to afford college! As a first generation student, my family doesn’t have the means to support my education. Since it’s important for me to get a quality education and graduate with a degree someday, I have to spend time applying for scholarships and grants. I’m so fortunate to be a Benjamin A. Gilman scholar, which has allowed me to study abroad in Italy. I have also received the American Society for Enology and Viticulture scholarship, the Jess Hanson scholarship, the Oregon Wine Brotherhood scholarship, the Juice Products Association scholarship, and the Cole Danehower Memorial scholarship, among others!
For the first two terms of this school year, I’m going to be in Italy as an exchange student at the University of Padova. This exchange was made possible through the College of Agricultural Sciences. Italy is my favorite wine region and I study Italian in my free time. I’m going to study in the Veneto, where they specialize in Prosecco, which is Italy’s most popular sparkling wine. I’m so excited to learn from the masters, as I hope to produce my own sparkling wines someday.
Photo Credit: Josh Chang (third row pictures only)