Viticulture Senior Spotlight: Marissa Novero
Fresno State viticulture and enology senior Marissa Novero is one of the thousands of #FresnoStateGrad success stories that make this our favorite time of year.
The Oakley, CA native first became interested in grape growing from her father and grandfather who made wine from grapes they grew in the backyard.
After arriving at Fresno State she has earned high marks from faculty as a research assistant, officer for the viticulture club and Phil Mu sorority, and an intern with Kings River Winery.
Now she can look forward to a winemaking research internship with world-renowned wine producer E. J. Gallo Winery.
Read more about her in this recent interview.
Why were you drawn to your degree field?
Novero: “I was drawn to the department because of its sense of community and sense of drive the faculty has for the students to help us and set us up for success.”
What were some of your favorite Fresno State classes?
Novero: “I enjoyed Enology 45 (wine sensory) because it taught me about wine quality and how to taste wines and look for the flavor characteristics. Also, who doesn't like to taste wine?”
Novero: “Enology 199 (guest seminar series) was a great overview class and featured lots of guest speakers from industry. This course showed me the passion and excitement that awaits my future. It also showed me how connected you can stay with your college in order to give back to them what they gave us.”
Which faculty members had the biggest influence on you while at Fresno State?
Novero: “Dr. Sonet Van Zyl has greatly influenced in my time here. Her passion not only for the industry but for the department as a whole is second to none. She is constantly challenging us in fun, academic ways and always taking learning a step further to ensure that we are understanding the lectures in and outside of the classroom so that all students have hands-on experience. The quality I admire the most is how much she cares about us, the students.”
Did you work or volunteer at any campus farm units or with any research teams?
Novero: “I was able to work as an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Van Zyl’s lab team this academic year.”
What was your background in agriculture before you started at Fresno State?
Novero: “I grew up with a vineyard in my backyard, growing red wine grapes. My father and his father like to make wine together so the tradition has carried on in me.”
Were you a part of any student organizations at Fresno State?
Novero: “My first four years of college I was a member of Phi Mu Fraternity, having held the position of chapter vice president then joining the Panhellenic Council serving as Vice President Judicial. After becoming an alumna from Phi Mu, I was able to serve as the Viticulture Club Vice President for the past two years.”
Did you participate in any other outreach activities events that benefited the community?
Novero: “The Viticulture Club donates to the City Without Orphans local organization each semester as well as volunteering when needed.”
Explain any research-related opportunities at Fresno State you helped with?
Novero: “I’ve been a part of a study with microbiota in wine grapes as well as table grape research with the crimson seedless variety.”
What organizations have you done internships with?
Novero: “My first industry internship was with Kings River Winery. I started the summer of 2016 as a harvest intern and was hired on for the following harvests and as a main tasting room attendant. My main responsibilities were collecting and testing sugar samples, bottling, and helping in harvest.”
What types of skills or experience have you gained from the internship that will help you on your career path?
Novero: “Team work, problem solving, communications, adaptability, and time management.”
Are there people you would like to thank that have been key influences for you receiving your diploma?
Novero: “My mom, dad, and sister. When I was ready to give up and come home they didn't let me. They pushed me to grow out of my comfort zone and take those chances.”
Are there any other interesting notes about yourself that you would like to include?
Novero: “I have struggled with a learning disability my whole life. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would finish college because I was never confident academically because of the disability. Boy, was I wrong. If it wasn't for the incredible help, confidence, and patience from the staff in the Services for Students with Disabilities office, I don't think I would of been as successful with college as I am today.”
What was your most memorable experience(s) at Fresno State?
Novero: “Being able to join Dr. Van Zyl's research team, and also passing biochemistry – that was a challenging class.”
What is the next step in your career path?
Novero: “I have been lucky to receive an offer with E. & J. Gallo for an internship in research winemaking.”