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From Carondelet to Cabernet

From stem to glass, Cal Poly to Pinot, Carondelet alumna Lila Mague ’18 is emerging as a promising winemaker.

Just as some of the best wines in the world are made from a blend of grape varietals rather than a single kind, the best winemakers are drawn to a blend of their passions. For Lila Mague ’18, that combination has always been anchored in science and creativity.

A summer lacrosse camp at Fresno State was her first introduction to Viticulture, and right away it fascinated her. This major provides so many opportunities in the wine industry but is offered at so few schools in California. Undeterred, Lila knew she wanted to pursue a degree in Viticulture while also living by the ocean and playing college lacrosse…so Cal Poly was it!

The Viticulture specialization is in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences; courses focus heavily on chemistry, environmental science, and business to learn the principles of wine grape growing, winemaking, and the wine business. It’s a competitive degree program with only 80 students per grade within the major, students gained access to mentors from across the industry to share how they found their place.

Lila, with her California roots, has a promising future in this historical industry, even planning to study abroad in Italy before she had to cancel the trip. Despite changing plans, she was awarded the 2020 Winemaker of the Year, a title awarded to one student a year by the head of the Enology Department within the Wine and Viticulture Program. The award goes to the student who presents strong knowledge of winemaking concepts, a passion and drive for the industry, and an authentic understanding of cultivation from the vine to the glass.

“I am so honored to have been selected amongst my classmates for this award and to have the privilege of working a full harvest at Chamisal Vineyards,” said Lila. “It was such an incredible experience! Never a dull moment, always something new to learn, and I had fun every day working the harvest. We produced three labels under Cal Poly Wines - Rose, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”

This summer she is interning with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as a sales trainee to learn the business side of the wine industry. She’ll learn about distribution, consumer behavior, working with buyers, and refining her communication skills.

We can’t wait to enjoy a bottle of wine from her winery someday!


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