From the Pharmacy to the Vineyard

Published on 05 May 2021

Laine (Rapp) Pauk, Pharm.D. ’12, credits the education she received at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis with giving her the expertise and adaptability she needed to launch Moonbase Cellars winery in Walla Walla, Washington, with her husband, Drew Pauk.

“I loved my science classes at UHSP, especially organic chemistry,” Pauk said. “That scientific background helps me with the entire winemaking process: selecting the right grapes for our region, choosing a yeast to ferment the wine, avoiding spoilage and aging the wine to create the desired flavor profile.”

At UHSP, Pauk was a leader among her fellow students. She was a member of Rho Chi, president of Phi Lambda Sigma, member-at-large for the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists and president of student council, now the Student Government Association.

“Serving through student and professional organizations taught me how to communicate with a diverse group of people and meet them where they are,” Pauk explained. “Those skills prepared me not only for my pharmacy career but also gave me the confidence to pursue a new career in winemaking.”

Pauk and her husband fell in love with wine and winemaking while traveling in the U.S. and abroad. With her background in science and her husband’s background in business, they knew their combined expertise could create a successful venture. As her husband pursued certifications in wine specialization and education, Pauk studied the science of winemaking.

“I was an organic chemistry tutor at UHSP, and I used those skills again while Drew and I were learning about viticulture,” Pauk explained. “It was exciting to go ‘back to school’ and build on the knowledge I obtained at UHSP to become an expert on wine.”

The process of becoming winemakers has taken the Pauks several years of research, planning and perseverance. The long process of learning about wine, selecting their grapes, creating the wine and waiting patiently for the final product reminded Pauk of her pharmacy education.

“Our winery has been in the works for more than four years, and we’re just now bottling our first wines,” Pauk shared. “As a student at UHSP, I learned to set long-term goals and put in the hard work that it took to meet them. That patience and perseverance prepared me well for my entire career, especially creating and launching this winery.”

Pauk’s journey to Washington began when she worked at a pharmacy in Seattle for her final rotation as a student pharmacist. While there, she was impressed with the state’s natural beauty.

Years later, when the Pauks were looking for the right place to start their winery, they toured the wineries of eastern Washington, which has a much drier and sunnier climate than the coastal side of the state.

Pauk explained that her scientific background helped her understand why the region’s climate is ideal for producing wine.

“From a scientific standpoint, vines produce better grapes when they face a little adversity,” Pauk explained. “The goal of any plant is to propagate itself, and, in an arid climate like ours, the plant has to work harder to create healthy fruit. The energy it puts into the fruit creates complex flavors that you can taste in the final product.”

In addition to her work at the winery, Pauk serves as a community pharmacist at Albertsons Pharmacy in Walla Walla, Washington.

“I’ve always loved pharmacy, and serving as a pharmacist in a small town helped me build strong ties to the Walla Walla community in a short amount of time,” Pauk said. “I haven’t left pharmacy. Instead, I’ve built on my pharmacy career to pursue my passion for wine.”

Pauk hopes that current and future UHSP students also take advantage of the opportunities she enjoyed at the University and use their education to create exciting, fulfilling experiences and careers.

“My advice to students is try not to close any doors and keep your mind open,” Pauk stated. “You never know where your education will take you. Be creative, get involved on campus, and develop those lifelong friendships that will support you throughout your career.”

This story was first published in the spring 2021 issue of Script Magazine. To view past issues of Script, visit the Script Magazine archive.

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