Wine a Little, Learn a Lot

McKenna Keele Profile

When thinking of wine and college, the classroom isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind for many, but that’s not the case for members of the viticulture and enology (V&E) program at Texas Tech University, that’s right, they’re studying wine. An alumna of the program, McKenna Keele, says she was hooked after taking her first class: the Science of Wine.

Keele, from Snyder, Texas, knew she was coming to Texas Tech to pursue a degree and career in agriculture but was not sure what major would be best for her.

“My advisor was going through the plant and soil science concentration areas, and when she mentioned the V&E program,” Keele said, “I thought that it would be a really interesting subject to check into… and the rest was history.”

The viticulture and enology program offers undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and professional certificates in principles and practices of commercial production of grapes and wine. Keele said the courses she took gave her the opportunity to learn from the ground up about the wine industry, and gave her the tools to succeed in her career.

“Every single class that I took within plant and soil science prepared me for my first job in the wine industry,” Keele said, “as the laboratory manager and on-site chemist for a custom crush facility in Brownfield, Texas.”

Wine, Vineyard, Grapes, Agriculture
Photo courtesy of McKenna Keele

Keele said she remembers classes like “Wine Production” and “Wine Quality Control and Analysis” as some of her favorite memories of the program where she not only made wine, but also life-long friends.

“Our wine may have tasted horrible, but I wouldn’t trade those days for the world!”

McKenna Keele

Keele said she is grateful for the unique opportunity offered by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the V&E program to be able to use the degree for her career in the wine industry.

“My education within CASNR and Texas Tech as a whole was incredible,” Keele said, “I had the absolute best professors who equipped me with the needed tools and scholarship opportunities to become successful.”