Santosh Varghese

Santosh Varghese '13, Wine Specialist and Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Zachys Wine Auctions
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without the CIA.”
—Santosh Varghese ’13, Wine Specialist and Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Zachys Wine Auctions

Major: Wine and Beverage Certificate
Job Title: Marketing & Public Relations Manager, Zachys Wine Auction
Location: Scarsdale, NY

Santosh Varghese ’13, Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Zachys Wine Auctions, had a successful career in international banking with Deutsche Bank in London and New York, yet something didn’t feel quite right. “My job wasn’t fulfilling,” says Santosh. “I kept going back to my love of food, wine, and sharing the table with friends and family. That was an integral part of my life and I knew I wanted to pursue a career that I was passionate about.”

Eager for a change, Santosh enrolled in the Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the heart of Napa Valley’s wine region. “It was a big switch and a hard decision to make but I wanted to do it while I was still young and willing to take a risk,” Santosh says. The combination of the CIA’s faculty and the campus’ ideal location sealed the deal.

“It was a very intense course and I never studied so much or so hard before,” said Santosh. “Bob Bath and Christie Dufault were true inspirations and their knowledge and love for the craft was infectious. They introduced a completely different level of teaching that included constant tasting, in depth exploration into the business of wine, and the study of hospitality of service. They encouraged each of their students to push themselves and aim high.” For Santosh, the numerous field trips to vineyards and wineries, where he met some of the leaders of the industry, opened up opportunities to experience their generosity and willingness to help students learn and excel.

One of the most important lessons Santosh learned was how he would have to approach his new career. “The industry is not an easy one and you have to devote yourself to a lifetime of learning,” says Santosh. “If you want to do well you have to put in the effort. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without the CIA. It showed me the professional options available and the different avenues of employment I could take in the wine world. The CIA’s thorough education coupled with the proper mentorship from the world’s leading wine professionals helped set the foundation for my new career in wine.”

Santosh continued his education and is now a certified sommelier at The Court of Master Sommeliers. “I interact with clients from all over the world, just like in my previous job,” says Santosh, “but now I love what I do. It is both exciting and humbling to be in an environment where I am constantly learning, tasting, and growing as a wine professional.”

Learn about CIA’s wine and beverage graduate certificate program >