Associate of Applied Science in Vineyard and Winery Technology
Inspired by her father’s background in science, Miriah Falce always planned to work in the field of microbiology or research. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and began working in a tasting room while searching for jobs in the Seattle area.
“It was at this job I learned the head winemaker had the same degree and hospital experience as I did, and that there was a whole science side to making wine. I realized that customer service wasn’t quite for me, but chemistry was … so I joined Willow Crest Winery as a lab tech as harvest 2017 began,” stated Farce.
When her coworker, who was enrolled in YVC’s Vineyard and Winery program at the time, suggested she consider enrolling, Falce realized she wanted to make a career change and become involved in the winemaking process. She enrolled in YVC’s program in 2018.
“I learned the physical winemaking process that first harvest but knew to really excel in the industry that wasn’t enough. There was so much background knowledge I was missing, like the state/world history, sensory analysis, wine compliance, management, etc and as someone who loves to learn, I was excited to see YVC had it all,” stated Falce.
Falce also was attracted to YVC’s program because it catered to working adults and offered a short-term certificate option.
“As a fresh university graduate, I also wasn’t in a place to begin a new degree through a state school, so the certificate was perfect. Classes were in the evening, so I was able to simultaneously focus on my career and the program without interference. I wouldn’t be where I am without the program and the hands-on learning,” she continued.
After finishing YVC’s program in 2020, Falce relocated to Lake Chelan and began working as an enologist at Cairdeas Winery.
For other women interested in pursuing a career in the wine industry, Falce recommends exploring the wide variety of certificate and degree options available.
“If that’s not a possibility or someone isn’t completely sure, start looking around at local opportunities,” she said. “Many wineries/vineyards look for harvest help and offer internships during that season that can turn into full-time [jobs]. There are many options to start learning on your own.”
She also shared how special it was to be involved with creating the Alliance from the start.
“[AWWAwine] really has grown so much in such a short time and now includes socials, mentorships and scholarships. I attended some of the initial meetings where we tried to really figure out what the group was going to stand for and how it was going to be set up. Last year I assisted with social media for the big public launch of the group for Washington Wine Month and Women’s History Month. I’ve had to take a step back but look forward to getting back involved with some of the committees as they come up,” she shared.
Falce agrees that the Alliance is something important for female winemakers in Washington state.
“Although the industry is big — while also feeling very small once you’re in it — it felt important to have a group that women could turn to for resources. A state group crossing AVAs allows growers, winemakers, winery owners, vineyard crews, tasting room associates and educational professionals to connect and share their unique experiences, which propels all of us forward,” she concluded.