Jaclyn Misch: It’s Never Too Late to Follow Your Passion

Image of Jaclyn Misch, wine masters degree student at the CIA in California

CIA Student Bio

“There is an endless amount of information surrounding the wine industry, so the fact that there was a program that streamlined it was incredible, and I knew I wanted that solid foundation.”

You’re in the CIA’s master’s in wine management program. When did you realize you wanted to go into the wine and beverage field?
I became interested in wine about 10 years ago when I met my husband and late father-in-law, who had a pretty extensive wine collection and was a member of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a fraternity of Burgundy wine enthusiasts. Prior to this, my perception of wine was very limited—to boxed white Zinfandel only on special occasions or at a college party. I was honestly always intimidated by the wine aisle. I guess we fear what we don’t know, so spending time with my father-in-law really opened my eyes to the cultural personality, history, geography, and tradition that is attached to every bottle of wine. I became fascinated with the concept that something as simple as fermented grape juice could have so many complexities attached to humanity, across all cultures. One of the most universal acts of friendship is breaking bread and drinking wine. As a hobby, my husband and I took the Court of Master Sommelier intro exam together and both passed! He’s in dentistry, so it was up to me to carry the torch and it’s really just blossomed from there.

Do you already have a degree from another college or did you previously have a different career?
Yes, I have an undergraduate degree in public relations and advertising. I was a full-time media planner and buyer for five years before taking the leap to wine.

So, what made you take the leap and choose the CIA?
After I left my career as a media planner, I started working at Vino Volo in the Detroit International Terminal. I chose the CIA because my boss at Vino Volo went through the wine program at CIA Greystone and had nothing but good things to say about it. When I asked her what it was like, she said, “Studying wine in Napa Valley? Magical! But also the most challenging and rewarding year of my life.” I also knew that the CIA was the Ivy League of the culinary world, and I wanted to be a part of that network. I was so excited to learn that they even offered a wine program at the graduate level. There is an endless amount of information surrounding the wine industry, so the fact that there was a program that streamlined it was incredible, and I knew I wanted that solid foundation.

“I also knew that the CIA was the Ivy League of the culinary world, and I wanted to be a part of that network.”

How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
I received a scholarship for my high GPA in undergrad, which surprised me considering I graduated almost 10 years ago. (I was surprised they still honored it!) It really helped out in making the financial decision to go back to school for this graduate program.

What do you like best about the CIA?
I think that there are incredible networking opportunities available to you, if you chose to participate and get involved. The CIA network opens so many doors! I am also really proud to be a CIA alum—there are so many talented professionals in wine and culinary who have graduated from CIA.

What was the most impactful class you took during the program?
One of my favorite classes was Global Wine Business Management because it really dove into the current state of the wine industry. It helped me understand the wine business from a macro and micro level. We touched on every aspect of the wine business from importing and exporting, U.S. shipping laws, and this year’s projected wine trends to bottle costing and analyzing every single cost associated with producing a bottle of wine. Coming from a background in marketing and advertising, I found this class fascinating because it put everything into perspective.

What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
That I am never too old to learn something new and accomplish a goal. I just turned 30 and most of my friends got their master’s degrees right after undergrad. I thought my time had passed, but I actually needed that time in between to develop my passion for wine.

What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
I just started a consulting company, Chasing Grapes Social LLC. I want to help connect wineries and wine brands to the Millennial/GenZ generations, by using social media platforms to start the conversation. Millennials are projected to be the leading consumers of wine by 2027. However, reports show that the wine industry has been slow to adopt social media strategies into their marketing plans. My background is in marketing and advertising, but having a master’s degree in wine management was the missing piece I needed to combine my two passions. Having an extensive knowledge of wine will help me tell my clients’ stories more creatively and effectively.

What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Do as many extracurricular activities as you possibly can, even if they are unpaid. There are a ton of incredible volunteer opportunities that the CIA provides students, and doing those led me to meet some of my strongest connections in the industry. You never know where opportunity for your career can pop up and who you could meet!

Jaclyn Misch is a CIA student pursuing her master’s degree in wine management at the college’s California campus, The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, CA. She is from Ann Arbor, MI.