Engaging Global Young Professionals through Winery Internship Exchange
Monica Menco, Director of Communications and Public Relations, Sonoma Sister Cities Association
On August 31, 2012, the cities of Sonoma, California and Tokaj, Hungary united in a sister city relationship. One of the many benefits of this partnership has been the creation of the winery intern exchange program.
Every year, alternating between cities, an intern (or two) travels from the sponsor city to the host city to learn about wine harvesting techniques during the fall. Now going into its fourth year, through this program, the lucky intern gets to experience the full process of the grape harvest (aka “crush”) in another country and brings this hands-on learning back to the host city and its viticultural industry.
The Sonoma-Tokaj Sister City Committee was proud to announce the arrival of Hungarian viticulture intern Daniel Kovacs in Sonoma on Tuesday, August 26, 2015. Mr. Kovacs worked at Buena Vista Winery as their harvest cellar intern; his duties included all aspects of making wine: crushing, racking, pressing, cleaning, pumping over, punching down, and barrel-filling.
Mr. Kovacs is the second Hungarian Wine Intern brought to Sonoma by the Tokaj-Sonoma Association, and a portion of the cost of his trip to Sonoma was underwritten them. The Tokaj-Sonoma Association is one of the seven sister committees that comprise the Sonoma Sister Cities Association.
“We are excited and pleased to have this opportunity to host a wine student from Tokaj,” said Joan Toth, Co-Chair of the Sonoma-Tokaj Sister City Commmittee. “This is one of our core goals, and we are grateful to the Tokaj-Sonoma Association for sending us Daniel!”
In addition to the work and learning itself, the Sonoma-Tokaj interns also created a presentation to the public of what was learned, as happened in 2015. In the fall of 2014 two students from Santa Rosa Junior College Wine Studies Program were sponsored by the Sonoma Tokaj Sister Cities Committee on a 5 week study tour of the wine regions of Hungary. The students, Ramsay Payton and Seth Yungert, will share their knowledge, experiences, and photos of several famous wine regions in Hungary: Tokaj, Villany, Szekszard and Badacsony.
This program has strong community support in both sister cities and continues this year, with an intern from Sonoma making the journey to Tokaj. This hands-on learning experience fulfills the core mission of SCI: citizen to citizen diplomacy.