Science whiz-turned-winemaker launches award-winning custom crush facility in East Texas
Winemaker Michael McClendon knew nothing about wine when he interned at a winery 12 years ago. He was a science whiz at The University of Texas at Tyler, finishing his biology degree with a minor in chemistry and applying to medical schools. A referral from the biology department chair led to the internship at nearby Kiepersol Vineyard & Winery. It turned out to be a dream job.
“I started off doing a little bit of everything, checking the fruit, pH analysis, and a lot of quality control. I was fascinated by the science underpinnings [of winemaking]: yeast metabolism, fermentation kinetics — all the stuff I’d seen theoretically. I thought it was neat that this was the stuff I went to school for, and there was a direct application for it. That’s what got me into this industry,” McClendon says.
Instead of pursuing medical school in 2009, McClendon asked if he could stay on at Kiepersol. “They created a position for me to work in the laboratory there,” McClendon says. At age 22, he was an enologist.
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