Business of Wine Student Ben Probe Recounts Pivotal Moments

Ben Probe

Ben Probe

Now in its 10th year, The Business of Wine continues to be one of the most popular professional certificate programs at SDSU’s College of Extended Studies. The program is geared for professionals and entrepreneurs in the wine, food, and hospitality fields who want to quickly expand their knowledge of wine topics; those interested in moving into wine or hospitality careers; and wine enthusiasts seeking a professional-level education.

Students experience the world of wine twofold: wine education and business education. Ben Probe is one such student.

How did you hear about the Business of Wine program?
I was involved in the Meeting and Event Planning Certificate program at SDSU’s College of Extended Studies.

What did you hope to gain by taking the program?
I’m currently a bartender/server and am working on becoming a certified sommelier. I plan on using the information to have a greater knowledge of the wine and restaurant worlds and to be able to learn the “language” of wine.

Did the program meet your expectations?
I did learn a lot of information from the program. Coming from very little to no experience in wine, I feel that because of the program I now have a much greater understanding of not only wine itself but of the wine industry as a whole.

What insights did you gain from courses such as Exploring Wine, Wine Making Behind the Scenes, or Importing and Distribution?
Wine Making Behind the Scenes was one of my more preferred classes because I was able to create a visual picture of what I had been learning about both viniculture and viticulture. Getting to try wine right out of the fermenting tanks and to see it growing in the fields was very reinforcing to learning about the wine-making process and where it all begins.

Did you have an “aha” moment?
Trying my first Old World/New World wines side by side was an eye-opening experience for me. Before, I had always just considered wine as whatever flavor or style the producer wanted it to taste like. However after trying an Old World and a New World chardonnay right next to each other, the idea of terrior had a much greater meaning for me. (Editor’s note: Terroir is the interaction of geography and climate with plant genetics.)

What’s your current favorite wine?
Any German Riesling

How do you plan on applying what you learned?
I’m also studying to become a certified cicerone (a beer professional, similar to a sommelier) and taking both THAT knowledge and the knowledge I learned here, I’m hoping to find the inner elements between beer and wine in hopes of one day opening my own restaurant to create experiences for people to try both and learn more about both.

What’s the biggest strength of the Business of Wine certificate program?
The biggest strength of the program is the diversity of knowledge you can acquire. There’s something for everyone to be interested in and it all provides you with an opportunity to network and be more knowledgeable when speaking about or working with wine.

How will the networking aspect of the program benefit you?
I’ll always be able to say I know someone I can refer to about an issue or topic to keep learning more about it. I met lots of different people from all walks of life who are interested in wine for various reasons. I hope to take this and work with some of them one day.

Would you recommend the Business of Wine program to others?
Yes, anyone interested in moving forward in the restaurant industry or even just for personal enrichment will gain valuable lessons and knowledge from the program.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue their dream of a career in the wine industry?
Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information there is to learn. Just take it one step at a time. I couldn’t even say pinot noir the correct way when I started and now I am able to recognize what it tastes like in a blind tasting and even narrow down what part of the world it came from and how old it is. The key is perseverance.