westin's application letter
Dear Scholarship committee:
If we had just met in the tasting room over a glass of wine, I would start by telling you that my name is Westin, and I love the life I lead. I get to spend my days making and sharing wine with new and interesting people, am learning to farm a garden, and love to feed the people I love. I fell into winery work after watching my now-wife fall in love with wine, the discipline of the work, and the beauty of vineyards. Over time, I realized I loved the industry more than I ever knew I could love anything. While working for the past few years in wine production and teaching customers about wine, I realized that while I have a good framework for winemaking knowledge, I want to study Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College to gain hands-on experience in winemaking and viticulture practices. I want to build a depth of knowledge, especially about why processes happen the way they do, and immerse myself in the industry in Walla Walla.
I am most excited about the program at Walla Walla Community College’s Institute of Enology and Viticulture because I learn best by working hands-on and with a team. Traditional classroom learning was challenging for me in the past because of learning disabilities, but I have spent the past few years understanding how I learn best in a work environment and in a classroom, and am ready to invest and commit to a degree. My previous grades reflect the challenge of working full time and being enrolled in college when I wasn’t ready.
Following my first attempt at school, my experience in the wine industry changed my view of myself and gave me a purpose for learning. My first job in the industry at Testarossa winery sparked my interest in learning about wine, especially after being given my own barrel fermentation to care for. My job allowed me to learn technical skills and concepts and have an immediate application for them. It was so different from any other past learning experience. Constructive feedback, mentoring, and constant drive to make myself better have changed me into someone completely different. I’m no longer a aimless student searching for direction, I am now a man with a career, family, and purpose to invest in myself and my industry.
I am so excited about the way the program at Walla Walla Community college is built around experiencing grape growing, winemaking, and sales first-hand. I love the idea of cohort learning because if I’ve learned anything the past few harvests, it's that teamwork is necessary to get anything done in a winery.
I want to understand the vineyard and how vines grow. I want to confidently make winemaking decisions, and be able to teach others, because I understand what is happening on more than just a process level. I want to be a translator for customers to help them understand how the wine they are enjoying is made. I think that work experience has been a good starting point, but I am confident that the Enology and Viticulture program will jump-start my learning.
After studying at Walla Walla Community College, I see my role in the Washington wine industry as being a grower and maker of small-lot and interesting wines that tell a story. I would like to continue apprenticing and learning from a mentor, digging their tanks and cleaning in order to earn a little time learning from them. I would also like to have freedom to build a brand and make wine with my wife Ivey. I want to become a champion for the region I make wine in, and work together with my industry and friends to build something great. I know that learning at Walla Walla Community College, being in community with my cohort and professors, and building a whole picture of the wine industry in Walla Walla will help me define what this looks like.