Life After Guilford: Viticulturist Tremain Hatch ’06

Tremain Hatch ’06 isn’t a typical geologist.

You won’t find him in California studying volcanic ash layers or delving into petrology, the study of rocks. Rather, Hatch spends most of his time at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, the Hatch family farm where he is a vineyard manager and winemaker, or at Virginia Tech where he is a viticulturist — studier of grape cultivation — and research associate.

“(Hatch) was my first teaching assistant for the Science of Wine class,” recalled Marlene McCauley, chair and professor of geology and earth sciences. “(He) wasn’t an ‘A-student’ but he was the nicest, most reliable and hardest working guy.”

While some may be surprised by a wine class in the geology department, Hatch was not unfamiliar with winemaking. It had played a role in his everyday life prior to coming to Guilford.

“I am a third generation farmer,” said Hatch. “My family farm is here in Virginia and we grow grass-fed beef, lamb and honey. The last thing we put in was grapes, during (my) senior year (of high school).”

At Guilford, Hatch furthered his studies in viticulture. McCauley noted that a study abroad program in Brunnenberg, Italy, was one of Hatch’s experiences as an undergraduate.

“I had done the Brunnenberg (trip) earlier and told (Hatch) how great it was,” said McCauley. “When you go to Brunnenberg, there are happy students working in vineyards. There’s a work day once a week and it’s completely surrounded by vineyards and they make wine there on-site.”

“It was fantastic,” said Hatch. “Brunnenberg has a large emphasis on agriculture as well as the heritage of agriculture. I learned a lot intellectually that I use today (about) how agriculture relates to society.”

At Guilford, Hatch made use of opportunities besides study abroad, including an influential summer internship. Between his junior and senior year, he worked at Virginia Tech in their agricultural research program, interning for Tony Wolf, professor of viticulture. There, Hatch was exposed to both research and the Virginia wine industry.

“Once Wolf and others got to know (Hatch) with that internship, (the staff) loved him and they wanted him to be (Wolf’s) graduate student,” said McCauley. “All sorts of people wanted him as vineyard manager in important wineries in Virginia — he was in a lot of demand, and still is now.”

Hatch continues to work alongside Wolf today as his research and extension associate.

“I was impressed enough to take him (Hatch) on as a graduate student and he did an excellent job with his Masters research,” said Wolf in an email interview. “I turned over much of the basic extension program of my office to his responsibility. He’s a well-rounded individual and shares common interests (aside from grapes and wine) with me, graduate students, and some of the younger staff here.”

Still utilizing some skill sets he obtained several years ago, Hatch attributes his career today to his experiences at Guilford.

“The emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and creative problem solving (at Guilford) was great because that’s what I do,” said Hatch. “I have a small business now and the work transforms among categories such as accounting, marketing, strategizing and analysis.”

As he reflected upon his past at Guilford, Hatch stated that his key to success is “trying new things.”

“The first couple of years after Guilford, I worked at a lot of different wineries,” Hatch recalled. “Though at the time it didn’t look like a great career because I was a cellar hand and laborer, I learned a great deal from that and it prepared me very well for graduate school and the working industry.”

“It worked so well for (Hatch) because he took the initiative to do an internship and that let him get his foot in the door,” said McCauley. “Getting out there, getting someone to know you, doing undergraduate research and internships are so much better than just staying in the classroom for all four years. It helps you make that transition to get what you want when you graduate.”

To seniors at Guilford who will be graduating soon and hopefully leading a successful career, Hatch leaves simple yet valuable words of wisdom: “Find something that you enjoy.”

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