By Jesy Odio '15
Published Apr 1, 2015 8:00 AM
UCLA Anderson Wine Club helps MBA students prepare for careers in the hospitality industry.
More than 300 UCLA MBA students have set their sights on careers in the wine industry. They are all members of the Anderson Wine Club and they are well on their way to realizing their dreams. Since October, one team has met weekly to swirl, sip, and savor wine for practice and in June they will be off to France for the final round of the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup. This year, for the first time, the elite wine competition invited the Anderson organization to compete at the regionals in New York. Months of blind tasting and memorizing appellations paid off, and the UCLA team moved on up to the final round at the Château Lafite-Rothschild in Bordeaux, France.
To practice for the blind tasting portion of the competitions, the group purchases several types of wine, removes the labels, foil and corks, places the bottles in brown paper bags and pours mysterious wines into wine glasses. The competition, however, serves some of the most exclusive and finest wines. In order to give their wallets a break, the students rehearse with cheaper and more accessible versions.
“At the competition, you only have two minutes to taste and decide,” says co-president of the club, Margot Bloch. The competition tests teams’ knowledge of wine in three different portions: multiple-choice questionnaire, presentations and blind tasting. For Bloch, wine tasting is an interest she adopted from her family. Her father had put aside a Chateau Margeaux during her birth year.
For oenophiles at school, The Anderson Wine Club serves as the wining headquarters to learn everything about the grape, in social and educational settings, for over 360 members. Seldom do personal interest clubs offer a professional setting for students to network and connect with entrepreneurs and financiers. On campus, the club schedules events such as “Meet the Winemaker,” in which wineries share their company histories and educational components about grapes, wine regions and the wine business. For Anderson School students who are interested in the hospitality and restaurant industry, this is an opportunity to receive advice from successful sommeliers. The organization has permission to serve wine to members, as long as they also serve food and water. In addition, the club hosts “Wino Night Out” at the Bodega Wine Bar in Santa Monica, trips to the Rosenthal Vineyard in Malibu and the occasional tour to the Santa Barbara Wine Country.
Until June, when they are not at club meetings, the Anderson Wine Club team is studying for the final round of the Left Band Bordeaux Cup. Bloch says alumni have been supportive and generous by hosting them in New York during regionals and donating rare wine bottles for their blind tasting practice.
“This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Brooke Matthias, also co-president. “In the middle of our M.B.A.’s, we’ll be with directors and owners of chateaus pouring wine they don’t usually share with anyone, ever.”