A Tiger in wine country

A Trulaske College of Business student took full advantage of remote learning last fall by completing a dream internship in Napa Valley.

man at the beach smiling for a photo

Raised in Jefferson City, Missouri, Jordan Duenckel had never been to California before his four-month internship at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Napa Valley.

March 17, 2021

In the middle of July 2020, Jordan Duenckel packed up his Volkswagen Passat, hopped on I-80 and drove nearly 2,000 miles from Columbia to Napa, California. Duenckel, a senior food science and finance double major, landed an internship at E. & J. Gallo Winery, the largest U.S. winery, which would allow him to see how award-winning wines — and successful businesses — are made.

When COVID-19 arrived in Columbia and classes moved to remote learning, Duenckel started working 40 hours per week at the Mizzou Meat Market, a full-service student-run butcher shop. He saved his schoolwork for the evenings and looked for internships in his spare time.

An internship in E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Grower Relations Department sounded like the perfect opportunity. The stunning landscapes and near-perfect weather wouldn’t hurt, either.

As a grower relations intern, Duenckel spent a lot of time driving from vineyard to vineyard talking with local growers, checking the quality of their grapes and maintaining reports to track yield estimation and grape maturity. After an eight-hour day at the winery, he’d head home to watch a prerecorded lecture or post on a discussion board.

Duenckel supported many different areas of the winery during his nearly four-month internship. He helped negotiate contracts, perform pest and disease scouting, and assisted with harvest scheduling and delivery coordination. “It was really valuable to see all the parts of the business work together,” he said.

Duenckel arrived back in Columbia a week before Thanksgiving and has been able to put his hands-on learning to work. “Now, when they talk about something in my classes, I can say, ‘Oh, this is how it really works.’” he said.

For now, Duenckel is still making wine and beer for his roommates and his fiancée. He’s also offering tips for wine connoisseurs online: “If you’ve ever wanted to know what an unripe Chardonnay grape tastes like,” he wrote on Twitter, “I’ll save you a trip: A green apple Warhead is nearly identical.”

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