Strong roots

Harvest time at Sokol Blosser Winery draws people from all over the world to come work in the vineyard. Handpicking the grapes together inspires great camaraderie, but the volume of work also makes for an intense time. For Alex Sokol Blosser ('97, '03) Co-president and Winemaker of Sokol Blosser Winery, this is his favorite part of his job. “The intensity during harvest forces me to focus and I appreciate that,” he says. “We’re making something delicious and fun and, as much as it wears me out, it’s rejuvenating.”

Sokol Blosser was raised on the vineyard, and participated in his first harvest by the age of 11. His parents had bought the property in 1970 and planted an abundance of Pinot Noir vines on it the following year. At the time Oregon had no wine industry, however, so his parents didn’t view the winery as a feasible multi-generational business, and Sokol Blosser toyed with various career options after high school.

Dig deep

He put himself through college and enrolled at PSU after brief stints at other universities, Air Force Reserve training, and work as a foreman at another vineyard. “PSU is really special,” Sokol Blosser asserts. “It really is an ‘access’ school: my classes included parents of young kids, retired learners, and students who were the first in their families to attend college. It’s such an amazing resource for us all.”

With no set career plan, Sokol Blosser majored in Philosophy because he loved the subject. “It really taught me how to think,” he says. “Philosophy trains your mind to not get carried away by surface explanations, to dig deeper, ask questions, and gain more understanding.”

Upon graduation, Sokol Blosser’s mother suggested he try selling wines, and he worked at a beverage distributor. He then came back to his family’s winery to work with distributors and run the financials, and he subsequently obtained his MBA at PSU.

Science and art

Sokol Blosser’s sister (another PSU graduate) eventually became the winery’s CEO and Head of Sales, which freed Sokol Blosser to return to his first love: wine production. He says winemaking is a mix of understanding the seasons, working with the land, and positioning oneself to make something special and compelling, which takes both science and art. He likens it to a baseball game. “Mother Nature is always changing up the pitches she’s throwing you,” he explains. “My job is to make at-bat adjustments and move the runners. I draw from all the lessons I’ve gained over the years to make great wine, but I’m constantly learning and being humbled.”

Now, Sokol Blosser blends his affinity for PSU with his love for winemaking. In addition to serving on the PSU Foundation board for three years, he’s donated wine to various PSU events and occasionally hosts events at the winery. “PSU sparkled for me,” he says. “It helped me tremendously, and I’ll be forever grateful.”