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The Skills Upgrader


Chelsea knew she had reached her career peak as a wine bar manager in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A chance encounter with a Chemeketa Winemaking graduate inspired her to move to Oregon and pursue a degree.

Chelsea story

Cultivating the Life She Dreamt Of

My name is Chelsea and I am a 29 year who moved from Wisconsin to study wine at Chemeketa.

Serendipity brought me here. I was managing a wine bar in Wisconsin and felt like I had reached my career peak in my home state. I didn’t know what path to take, but knew I wanted to further my education. Fortunately for me, I had the pleasure of meeting an Oregon winemaker originally from Wisconsin on a business trip back home.

I got to taste her wines and we chatted about how she got where she is today. She told me about her education path through the Winemaking program at Chemeketa. I decided to do some research, and two months later I was taking online classes and making a plan to move out to Oregon on a whim. Not knowing a soul (but having a job and a place to live lined up) I moved out here with $2,000 in my pocket and the hope of starting something new. 

Originally planning to study Wine Business, I instead took classes in both viticulture and winemaking hoping I would love one or the other. After a couple terms I decided winemaking was the better for me, but I was still scared. I had no production or science experience and I was terrified that with all the chemistry, math and lab science I wouldn’t succeed. I hadn’t been a student in 10 years.

My professor/advisor told me it would all be fine and he would help me along the way. I credit most of my success to him as he really helped me make it happen. 

Now I’m graduating with a full time job as a cellar hand at McMenamins Edgefield. I live on a 400 acre farm with plans to plant a small vineyard in spring. One day I would like to have my own fermentation project—whether that’s wine, cider or something else only time will tell. This experience will be super valuable to me as I continue on my career path. 

As I leave the Chemeketa program I cannot fathom how to voice all of my gratitude to everyone who has helped me get here. Even though graduation is a big step in my career I truly wish the program could go on forever. Every day I walk in the wine studies center I learn something new and bettering myself. I’m honored to be graduating from Chemeketa Wine Studies.



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