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Rosen built his wine passion into profession with Washington Valley Cellars


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Jay Rosen wound up building wine cellars because he is 'not a corporate person.'
Jay Rosen wound up building wine cellars because he is 'not a corporate person.' - (AARON HOUSTON)

When Jay Rosen took his Rutgers MBA into the corporate world in 1981, he wasn't thinking about building wine cellars. He wasn't even thinking about building.

He took a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a consultant, but it never took. He left five years later when he discovered he was "not a corporate person."

He then started building. First it was housing. Even though he knew nothing about construction, he took advantage of the home building booming in the mid-1980s and started a construction company.

"Starting with a pile of dirt and watching a house grow was really appealing to me," he said.

He learned the trade on the job.

"While I was building houses, I learned about construction," Rosen said. "I was out there every day with the framers: reading plans, getting materials, sweeping up."

His company built eight houses, including one for himself. But when the economy hit the skids at the end of the '80s, he knew he needed another profession.

A wine retailer asked Rosen to build a wine cellar for one of his customers, and a new career was born. To date, he's completed more than 400 wine cellars.

Most of his clients are New Jerseyans, but Rosen and his team of three construction craftsman have worked as far west as Utah and currently have projects underway in Florida and South Carolina.

It's a job he loves — but one he stumbled into.

"At the time, I knew nothing about wine cellars, but I knew about wine," he said. "I did some research about wine cellars and then I built one — and then another and another and another."

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On Twitter: @bethfitzgerald8

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.



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