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Laura Guzman, CEMBA '14

Laura Guzman, CEMBA '14

Jul 23

Back to school: A time to wine


After a two month hiatus, we have returned again to beautiful Ithaca in the height of its summer glory to kick off a new year of classes. And what better way to start things off than with an appropriately balanced social / educational engagement like a "wine course?"

Now, for those who aren't familiar with the infamous Cornell undergrad "Intro to Wines" course, this is actually a very serious deal for Cornellians. Not surprisingly, the course is among Cornell's most popular - and arguably one of the more challenging. Yes, I cannot deny students get to spend an afternoon of imbibing, but they also get to take a in-depth tour of the vast and exceedingly complex world of viniculture and viticulture. The class develops a true appreciation for the wine business and builds confidence in exploring an industry so often viewed as exclusive and complicated.

Turns out, it can also give you a bit of a leg up in the business world. Lets face it, while finance, operations, economics and leadership all play an important role, a lot of business happens over dinner. Being able to successfully navigate a wine menu, order a bottle that pares well with your meal, and even have an intelligent conversation about it with your guests is a skill that's sure to impress other execs.

So it was with that entrepreneurial endeavor in mind that my classmate, Bernardo Limp, and I set out to organize the ultimate EMBA welcome-back event.

We collaborated with local wine expert, Jess Cisco, a Cornell alumn, veteran Cornell Hotel School instructor, and wine aficionado with experience working at local winery Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard. Combining equal parts lecture and conversation, Jess guided over 50 of the CEMBA 2014's through the wide world of wines from Spain to Chile, and Napa Valley, CA to the Finger Lakes of NY (yes, that's right, Ithaca is right in the middle of a thriving wine region).

(In case you're interested in replicating the experience, below is the Tasting Menu from the evening and some of the "lecture notes.")

The CEMBA Tasting Menu
Wine
 Appellation
 Benito Santos
 Igrexario de Saiar 2011 (Albarino)
 Rias Baixas (Galicia, Spain)
 Bodegas Ramon Bilbao
 Valinas 2010 (Albarino)
 Rias Baixas (Galicia, Spain)
 Hermann J. Wiemer
 Dry Riesling 2012
 Finger Lakes, NY
 Bodegas Bilbainas
 Vina Zaco 2010 (Tempranillo)
 Rioja (Rioja, Spain)
 Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco
 Seleccion de Familia Crianza 2008 
 (Tempranilo)
 Rioja (Rioja, Spain)
 Oberon
 Napa Valley Merlot 2008
 Napa Valley, CA
 Santa Rita
 Medalla Real Gran Reserva (Carmenere)
 Colchagua Valley (Rapel Valley, Chile)
  Concha Y Toro
 Marques de Casa Concha 2010
 (Cabernet Sauvignon)
 Maipo Valley (Chile)


Without getting into all the geeky tasting notes, suffice to say everyone walked away with new wine knowledge. But better yet, it offered an experience that I think truly encapsulates the CEMBA program itself. While we had just a brief amount of time to skim the surface of all there is to know about wine, we were able to get enough of a taste to be able to start applying some of the lessons learned in our own lives right away, as well as inspire areas to explore wider and deeper down the road.

Sounds an awful lot like what we're getting out of these two whirlwind years of executive business education, doesn't it?

So it would seem a little "wining" on the first day of school is a positive way to start of the new semester. Here's to an exciting year ahead. Cheers!
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