Watts Winery Welcomes Young Winemaker to the Family

Page5By Rhashad R. Pittman

When Fermin Ramirez Jr. finishes his degree program at UC Davis next month, he will be one of the fortunate college graduates who have a job waiting for them.

Unlike many graduates who are entering the workforce shortly after completing their college careers, Ramirez will not be working in the business, engineering or marketing fields. He will not even be working in an office.

Instead, the 23-year-old will be working amid vineyards under the Central Valley sun – making wine.

Starting in mid-July, Ramirez will join the staff at Watts Winery in Lodi, CA. The family-owned business at 17036 N. Locust Tree Road has been producing award-winning wine since 1999 and growing grapes for four generations.

Last summer, Ramirez worked as an intern at the winery. Now he will become a full-time employee, fulfilling his professional dream of making wine. It is something that has interested him since his early days in college.

He enjoys the scientific aspects of wine making as well as the social aspects.

“It’s all about enjoying the moment and life around you,” Ramirez said.

When the Linden native first arrived on UC Davis campus a few years ago, he had planned to study engineering like his older brother and Uncles, who currently work as engineers. But after a few classes he quickly realized that it was not for him.

So he started looking for subjects that he found interesting. He happened to stumble upon an introductory wine tasting class. But it was not the tasting part that interested him. It was the scientific process of wine making itself.

“It got me more interested in the wine world,” Ramirez said. “After a while, I knew it was something that I enjoyed.”

One class led to another and eventually Ramirez decided to make it his major so that he could study wine making in depth. Through its renowned Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, UC Davis offers program Viticulture and Enology. Viticulture involves the cultivation of grapes and Enology covers the science of wine making.

When he told his friends they were shocked, he said.

But they probably should not have been since Ramirez grew up on a farm filled with grape vines, cherries and walnuts with his brother Julio, 25, mother Carmen and father Fermin Sr. Although his parents were not big wine drinkers, Ramirez can recall them visiting aunts and uncles who did drink wine during family gatherings.

“I’ve always been exposed to the grape world,” he said.

Although his father was supportive from the beginning, Ramirez said, it took his mother some time to embrace his new professional path.

“Are you sure?” His mother asked after hearing the news. “What are you going to do with this?”

And now she knows. He is going to do exactly what he set out to do – make wine.


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