Wine, Travel, Work
SSU alumn, Elizabeth Rice, works a dream international career
Work you love and an international career in a high-profile industry like wine; these are things that we dream of. Elizabeth Rice, Sonoma State alumn, however, has made a life out of these dreams. As the Regional Sales Manager of Europe for Delicato Family Vineyards, Rice currently lives in London.
"I fell in love with wine; it's a passion," said Rice, "and I still have that passion."
Rice majored in Wine Business Strategies at SSU and certainly made the most of her time here, inside the classroom and out. She had opportunities to travel to places like Chile, London, Costa Rica and Tokyo with other students. Throughout her four years, she also worked at Armida Winery in Healdsburg. At Sonoma State, Rice assisted Armand Gilinsky who directed the Wine Business Program at the time.
"The Wine Business program is really special and very unique," said Rice. "Internationally, while everyone may not know of SSU, they do know of Sonoma County, and it's impressive."
In 2000, Rice co-founded the Wine Sense Club along with two other students. They believed students had to taste and experience wine in order to truly learn about and understand it. She recalls the approval process being difficult at the start, as the rules were stricter then. Now a huge club on campus, Wine Sense brings in as many as 50 students per meeting, with premier wineries coming to pour each month.
Rice seemed delighted at how much the Wine Sense Club has grown and is glad to see they still pursue the same mission statement she was integral in creating at the beginning. "We weren't even allowed to hold tastings in classrooms back then," said Rice. During her recent visit to Sonoma State, she, of course, stopped by a Wine Sense meeting to pour Delicato's wines and share her experiences with the club.
Continuing her love of travel, Rice took two months off to backpack through Australia after her graduation. Upon her return, her loves of both wine and travel merged. She landed an internship in Napa with Delicato Family Wines doing market research in their international department. She was promoted to the role of administrative assistant soon after. A year later, she was offered a position in Toronto in their Canadian division of Sales and Marketing. For the past six years, Rice has worked for their European region and before relocating to London, she had the chance to live in Dublin, Ireland.
Today, her role at Delicato involves researching the wine market in the country into which Delicato plans to expand, identifying trends and regulations, and finding distributors there. Through her experiences in this position, she has gained knowledge of many different countries and has learned the ins and outs of each of their wine industries.
"You have to start at the bottom and work your way up," said Rice. "A degree will help, but work experience is key, that's what will get you places and help you advance."
Rice's face lights up with excitement when she speaks of her amazing experiences working internationally. She saw the Aurora Borealis from horseback in Iceland, visited the Ice Hotel in Sweden, and even saw a Kenny Rogers concert in Jamaica, where she was surprised to see that he had a large following. She loves expanding into new countries, as she sees each one as a fresh start.
Her advice for students and recent graduates is to stay open-minded. "Take opportunities when they come and don't be afraid to take a risk," she said, "especially when it comes to relocating for a job."
Clearly, this has worked out well for Rice.