A look at Linfield’s newest Wine Studies professor


Art by Annemarie Mullet

Sierra Bodle, Staff Writer

You may be familiar with the wine studies instructor Toni Ketrenos, but did you know that she has a house bunny? She also has a black lab mix named Pearl, a 22-year-old orange tabby cat, and a little pond of goldfish. In her spare time, she enjoys sewing and outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and snowshoeing.

She started teaching at Linfield in January of 2020, and has a rich background in both the wine industry and world travel. These things often go hand-in-hand; as a wine buyer, Ketrenos visited vineyards in California, Argentina, Washington, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Chili, and, of course, Oregon.

She also enjoys traveling with her husband and son to places like Peru, where they walked the Incan trail. She cites climbing the rocky “Dead Woman’s Pass” to make it to Machu Picchu as one of the hardest things she has ever done. She has also been to Costa Rica to explore the rainforest, and South Africa where she went on safari. 

Ketrenos graduated from Linfield and loved it. “I can’t imagine what it would have been like at a big university for me,” she said. “I don’t think I would have been happy being a number.” 

Many current students here at Linfield are likely to agree. “It’s the community for sure,” she said. “I’ve been on campus a couple of times between graduating and getting a job here. The campus feels very warm; very friendly. There’s a level of acceptance you don’t find anywhere else. People are really supportive of each other and open to meeting new people.” 

She has worked in the wine industry since she was a student. Ketrenos worked in a tasting room, then as a wine steward, then as an importer running a distributorship. In each of her positions she had to manage some kind of budget, and said there were more spreadsheets involved than one might expect.

The history of wine goes back thousands of years, and the topic encompasses many aspects. Despite this, most wine study programs only focus on the technical and science side of things, such as winemaking and grape growing. 

At Linfield, students in the Wine Studies program receive a much broader education that includes cultural and societal issues related to wine. 

With her diverse background, Ketrenos fits in well with Linfield’s unique department. She thinks “people interested in wine are often interested in always learning,” which goes hand-in-hand with a broad education.

When Ketrenos heard of the opening at Linfield, she talked to current Wine Studies professor and program founder Jeff Peterson and realized teaching was exactly what she wanted in life.

While teaching an introductory wine course, Peterson was looking for guest speakers in the business field. At the time, Ketrenos worked in wine distribution, and agreed to talk to the class about consolidation. Consolidation refers to the fact that 3 or 4 distributors control 75% of wine that’s produced, and many small wineries get bought out by larger companies. 

When Ketrenos arrived, she had just heard that her employer had been subject to a consolidation. She was talking to his class about how big companies are buying up all the smaller ones, and her place of work had just been an example! 

Afterwards, Ketrenos was invited back to speak in several other classes and was at the top of Peterson’s list when he was searching for more professors to teach the core wine classes. 

“We’ve been very fortunate that she took that step,” Peterson said. “She’s been a great colleague, she filled some real gaps and brings that deeper understanding of wine business.

“You can make a great wine but you need to get it out there to market,” Peterson added. “She’s got a really great attitude and she’s fun to work with.”

When asked if she had any advice for Linfield students, Ketrenos said to “find opportunities to meet people. A lot of things happen once you get connected. Learn on your own, it doesn’t take a lot of fancy materials. Always be opening to learning and talking to people; a lot of information comes a little at a time.”