Grape Success: Vineyard Manager Crushes it with 2-year Degree

At 23 years old, Jamieson Lindquist already has a fruit-filled career and future.

As one of the youngest employees at Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery in Kasota, Minnesota—and the youngest in a managerial position—Lindquist’s passion for grape growing began at the green age of 8 years old.

“I spent my childhood growing up on a vineyard,” Lindquist shared in a personal interview with American Experiment. “After learning how to plant, clip, and train vines from working on my parents’ vineyard, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Lindquist’s viticulture enthusiasm was paired with an entrepreneurial drive. He started his own lawn-mowing business when he was 14 years old, which led him to help maintain the grounds at Prairie Pond Vineyard and eventually oversee 3,800 vines.

After high school, Lindquist began studying Business Agricultural Production at South Central College’s North Mankato campus. He also enrolled in the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance­–an online program for education in grape growing and winemaking through the Missouri State University system.

“I went down and talked to the dean at North Mankato about a degree in agriculture and how it would fit with my interest in viticulture, and found out he has a vineyard that sells to Chankaska,” Lindquist said. “He took me under his wing right away and introduced me to the winemaker there. I did some job shadowing and was offered a position as the Grounds and Vineyard Manager.”

Lindquist worked full-time while taking classes at South Central, a short-term sacrifice that paid off in the end. He finished his two-year degree debt free.

“I paid cash for school as I was going through the program,” Lindquist said. “It’s nice to get out of school without any debt.”

Free from the financial pressure of loan payments, Lindquist saved his money and bought a house.

“I’m the person doing what everyone else isn’t doing but could be doing if they knew there are great careers without four-year degrees,” Lindquist said. “In high school, we were told ‘it is easier to work with your mind rather than your back.’ Well, I like working with both.”

Lindquist supervises a crew of six employees who manage 15 acres of vines and three acres of grounds.

“Being in charge of 5,600 vines at a premier Minnesota winery is a lot of hard work,” said Lindquist. “From pruning and training the vines to soil testing and harvesting the grapes, there’s always something new and challenging every day. But that’s what I like about it. I went after the job I wanted to do, and I tell people they should do the same. If you enjoy welding, you should pursue being a welder. You can make really good money in the trades, and this isn’t well-known information.”

And the best part of his job?

“’Shifty’s.’ After each shift, the crew gets together and enjoys a glass of wine.”