Student first to create own Sangiovese wine

Wine made in class has developer’s name on every bottle label

SHANEL HAYNES, Evergreen reporter

WSU viticulture and enology student Noel Perez received a $15,000 Wine Spectator of the Year scholarship after being the first WSU student to create his own Sangiovese wine.

Perez said he was surprised to learn that he was receiving the scholarship. He said at that point in time his mind was focused on creating his own Sangiovese wine, as part of the blending learning class taught by Director of the V&E program Thomas Henick-King.

“You go to school and you go to work but you don’t expect anything out of it, so I was shocked and absolutely grateful” he said.

Perez said after being notified of his award he continued to perfect his Sangiovese wine. He said that this wine would be the first he produced to include his own name on the label. He said he loves the taste of Sangiovese wine in particular because of the wines spicy character and fruity tones.

Perez said that growing up in the Walla Walla Valley opened his eyes to the potential career opportunities in the wine industry. He said that being exposed to agriculture at a young age is what led him to pursue a major in viticulture and enology. He said his major allows him to learn how to balance grape growing and winemaking at the same time.

Henick-King said Wine Spectator is a magazine that focuses on wine culture as well as rating certain types of wines. He said the magazine actively supports the WSU viticulture program by donating money to support teaching, research and providing scholarships.

He said because of the magazine’s donations, staff can nominate one outstanding undergraduate student to receive the scholarship for spectator of the year. Henick-King said nominating Perez for the award was not something that he had to put much thought into.

“Noel excelled as a student and works very well with his peers. He also shows a lot of initiative when it comes to wine making,” he said.

Henick-King said that after tasting Noels wine he really appreciated how well it was executed. It was then decided that Noels wine would be displayed at the fundraiser event Auction of Washington Wines as part of the V&E program last semester, he said.

Perez said there were many big names from the Washington wine industry at the auction.  He said having his Sangiovese from the program among so many other great wines was a surreal feeling. He said that during the auction five cases of his Sangiovese wine was sold. As part of the fundraiser the profits from the wine sold went toward the V&E program, he said.

“Little by little people kept tasting my Sangiovese and they really liked it and from there the positive comments continued,” he said.

Perez said that his future plan is to progress in the wine industry and eventually create his own company. He said he wants to continue getting better at wine making and hopes to one day fund wine projects similar to his own.