Growing a Winemaker

College student from Michigan wins Wine Spectator Science Student of the Year scholarship

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Michigan’s Andrew Gerow is the Wine Spectator Scholarship Program’s Science Student of the Year. (Courtesy photo)

Every year, the Wine Spectator Scholarship Program awards the title of Science Student of the Year, along with a corresponding scholarship, to a student whose academic achievements, display of leadership and engagement in extracurricular and career activities make them a strong candidate in the field of winemaking.

Andrew Gerow, a graduate of East Grand Rapids High School who spent time working at Mari Vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula, earned this year’s honor.

“When I heard that I was selected as the recipient of the award, I was ecstatic and just overjoyed. I couldn’t even believe that I was selected,” Gerow says. “It really means a lot to have all of the hard work recognized.”

Now a student at Washington State University, Gerow has worked at three wineries and two vineyards throughout his time in the industry. One of the wineries, Mari Vineyards, is a boutique winery on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City. There, he worked in the tasting room and was able to gain knowledge working with managers, marketing staff and winemaker Sean O’Keefe.

“Andrew simply asks good and frequent questions,” O’Keefe says. “He always comes in to job shadow me when he is home on break, and is untiring in his desire to learn his craft.”

Aside from his experience at Mari Vineyards, Gerow has spent the majority of his time working in the fields and wineries to grow grapes and produce wines throughout Washington.

“There are many times where you’re working 14 hours or even up to 18 hours a day, and you’re covered in wine, grapes, dirt or dust,” Gerow says. “But you’re still just loving it, getting dirty and being able to see your product go from start to finish. It’s definitely something you have to be passionate about.”

Gerow will graduate from Washington State University one semester early in December 2020. He plans to go on and earn a graduate degree in enology — the science of winemaking — or head straight into his career and pursue an enology position at a medium to large-sized winery.

Either way, he’ll keep on learning.

“There’s always something to learn,” Gerow says. “Even people who have been in the industry for 40 or 50 years, they’re still striving to gain knowledge.

“As an aspiring lifelong student, that’s super exciting.”

O’Keefe says it’s exciting to see students like Gerow coming the industry’s way.

“I used to be one of (the) young generation of winemakers here, and it so great to … see people continuing to go out to more established wine regions to learn from the best,” he says. “I hope he returns to the region someday to share the knowledge he’ll have garnered.”

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