My name is Julia Centola and I am a member of the Class of 2021. I am an Environmental Science major and a Mathematics minor. This summer, I interned at Prospect Hill Winery in Lebanon, Maine.
Prospect Hill Winery is a family run business that is dedicated to making wine exclusively from their own grapes with grape varietals chosen to weather the Maine climate. All the grapes are picked by hand and the wines are made on-site. This summer, I had the opportunity to see where all the magic happens and work alongside amazing people.
Something that struck my attention before my internship began is that winemaking is an art form, but also a science. Going into the summer, one of my main goals was to see winemaking from many different perspectives and angles. My academic goals included: understanding how to care for the grapes, learning the major aspects of winemaking, grape growing/care, as well as vineyard care. On top of this, it was important for me to learn how to run a small business and what it takes to become a small business owner.
COVID-19 regulations prevented the winery from opening fully, so my work and learning experiences were based on behind the scenes work. I assisted in online wine orders, packaging orders for curbside pickup, some vineyard care, and the bottling of wine. As the winery and tasting rooms were closed for the summer, it gave me the opportunity to understand the equipment and techniques used to make certain types of wine, what grapes varietals are used, how to properly age wine, and how to care for the vineyard. I learned the intricate steps needed in winemaking such as picking, crushing, pressing, fermentation, filtering, and bottling.
Not only did I learn the ins and outs of winemaking, but also valuable skills that are applicable elsewhere. Important skills that I learned during my time at the winery are patience and adaptability skills. The winemaking process presents different challenges every single day as anything could change with a blink of an eye. Dealing with harsh weather, declining crop yields, and selling and advertising the wine are obstacles that change day-to-day. In winemaking, more likely than not, things are going to go off script. Another great skill I learned is to be self-driven. To be a winemaker and to own a vineyard, you have to have the skills and the passion to get up every day and complete a new task, as there is no one overseeing your daily activities. I am so grateful for the experiences I had this summer and all of the great people that I met.