Student Stories: Food Science grad had early focus on enology

October 11, 2010

University Park, Pa. — Denise Gardner knew she liked wine before she even tasted it.

The Reading, Pa., native, who grew up in tiny Robesonia, Pa., was sure of her interest in the wine industry when applying to college.

Gardner began studying a grapevine disease while enrolled in an agriculture program in high school. And before she knew it, she had a library of several winemaking books and had started visiting wineries in the area. "The more experience I had, the more I got into it and fell in love with it," she said. "It became a passion of mine and that's why I'm still in it."

When Gardner decided to attend Penn State, she chose to major in Food Science and minor in Horticulture. She knew her education would prepare her well for the enology field -- the science of wine making -- she hoped to work in some day.

The summer after her freshman year, Gardner worked in Napa Valley co-authoring a Penn State graduate student's dissertation. The two presented the project to several conferences and publications, and in 2007, the year she graduated, it was published in Plant, Cell and Environment, a refereed research journal.
Her internship experiences were all with wineries, where she worked either in the tasting rooms -- strengthening her palate -- or in the field.

After graduating from Penn State, Gardner earned her master's degree in Food Science and Technology, with a focus in enology, from Virginia Tech. Now she works as a sensory scientist for Vinquiry Enartis in Windsor, Calif.

She credits Penn State for preparing her. "The College of Agricultural Sciences gave me a lot of my experience interacting with people," she said. "I learned how to be my own advocate. I took advantage of undergraduate opportunities and got involved with the college."

Gardner, who was a member of the Food Science Club all four years of her college career, recently gave the following advice to her little brother before he started classes as a freshman in Food Science at the University Park campus: "Take advantage of the next four years -- this is your time for figuring out who you are."

  • Penn State alumna Denise Gardner, who works as a sensory scientist for Vinquiry Enartis in Windsor, Calif.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated November 18, 2010