WSU Viticulture & Enology alumnus continues studies in France and Spain

Jake Lazar is not letting the COVID-19 pandemic interfere with plans to continue his winemaking education overseas.

The 2019 WSU Viticulture & Enology graduate had envisioned a master’s program at the L’institut Agro in Montpellier, France, as his next step since his sophomore year.

“COVID made it complicated, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me,” Lazar said.

A man stands on a ladder and takes a sample of wine as it flows from a stack of barrels.
Lazar at Gordon Estate Winery taking a sample of Chardonnay to measure sugar levels during fermentation.

Before his adventures across the pond, Lazar studied enology at WSU, where his passion for wine production came into focus.

“Jake often stayed after my classes, asking more questions to ensure he understood production aspects,” said Bhaskar Bondada, associate professor at WSU’s Wine Science Center. “He is a promising viticulturist and winemaker, and his enthusiasm and confidence will be real assets to the industry.”

During his time as a Coug, Lazar particularly enjoyed making field trips throughout the state, seizing the chance to meet with grape growers and winemakers.

“What interested me the most about becoming a winemaker was being able to work with something tangible, seeing the fruits of your labor turned into something delicious that people can enjoy,” he said.

Lazar graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Plant Science, majoring in Viticulture & Enology, and ventured south to a winemaking internship. Working with a team of three winemakers, he assisted with daily tasks, from writing work orders and moving tanks to blending and tasting wine under the California sun.

A young man presses down on grapes in a wine barrel.
Lazar working with fermented grapes at Gordon Estate Winery.

Soon after he joined Gloria Ferrer as an enologist in Sonoma, where he learned more about traditional methods of wine production.

Like many V&E students, Lazar hopes to one day own his own winery and make sparkling wine.

After he finishes his studies in France in September, he will develop his master’s thesis at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, where he’ll work on improving the acidity and pH levels of sparkling wine.

Lazar plans to continue working throughout Europe and adding to his enology experience. He hopes to focus on champagne harvests, a passion he found at WSU. The wine program provided a springboard for his unique opportunities abroad.

“If you like working with your hands and you like to travel, the WSU V&E program is for you,” he said.