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E-news #013: Winter 2008

Executive Director Message

By Clare M. Hasler


Less than six months and counting... It is hard to believe we will be relocating into the beautiful new Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science academic complex in just a few short months! There will be so many new and exciting opportunities for teaching, research, and outreach in these new state-of-the-art facilities. We are so grateful for our donor support, which continues to be significant. Most recently, the estate of Napa Valley native Louise Rossi bequeathed $12.5 million to the Department of Viticulture and Enology.

I am looking forward to hosting events in the new sensory theater next year, particularly the semi-annual lectureship series. In the meantime, however, our Fall 2007 Lectureship was a huge success and our Spring 2008 Lectureship is scheduled for May 2, so mark your calendars. We have many other events coming up in the spring also, including Women, Wine and Music: A Celebration, in which Margrit Biever Mondavi will make opening remarks.

In the October issue of E-News, we announced that the RMI has established a new center. The UC Davis Olive Center now has a website ( and had its first official launch event for the industry at the Fancy Food Show earlier this month (story link here). There is tremendous excitement about this center within the industry. As Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, stated in a recent press release about the center, "This is the beginning of a historic new partnership with one of the state's most promising industries."

We look forward to continuing to engage the industry and the public in the future in our new home!

Clare's Signature

RMI Construction Update

By Allen Lowry


All three Robert Mondavi Institute buildings withstood the storms of January. While the 18 days of rain in the month have taken their toll on sunbathing and skiing, and made a muddy mess of most construction sites, the RMI project was delayed only one day, January 4, by high winds. All three buildings are now weather tight and the critical work can proceed inside heated spaces.

Flintco Construction has an excellent safety record; on RMI, close to 500,000 man-hours have been invested with no injuries.

Current activities include: setting of laboratory casework in the north lab building, finishing and painting of interior walls, duct and piping installation, starting up of electrical transformers and switchgear, installation of ceilings and lights, floor leveling, and the final detailing of window walls.

Soon we will see the installation of cabinets in the south lab and the sensory building, the painting of guardrails, stairs and brackets, the installation of maple door and window frames and maple-faced doors, and the startup of the heating system (the buildings need to be at constant temperature and humidity before any finish wood can be installed). In March, the contractor will widen Beau Vine Lane for improved traffic flow. Landscaping will not begin until April.

Fall 2007 Lectureship

By Clare M. Hasler

Solomon Katz, Clare Hasler, and Arthur Klatsky celebrate a successful lectureship

The mission of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science is to "promote scientific, technological, and cultural understanding of food, wine, and other beverages in pursuit of an enhanced quality of life." The cultural understanding of food was explored by two internationally renowned speakers during the Fall 2007 Lectureship on the afternoon of November 19 in the Studio Theater of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

Following a university greeting from Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Charlie Bamforth, chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology introduced the first speaker, Arthur Klatsky. Dr. Klatsky, a Harvard University-trained physician, is currently a senior consultant in cardiology and an adjunct investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif. Dr. Klatsky served as chief of cardiology at Kaiser from 1978-1994 and directed the Coronary Care Unit from 1968-1990. His 1974 article "Alcohol consumption before myocardial infarction: Results from the Kaiser-Permanente epidemiologic study of myocardial infarction," which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is one of the most-cited articles in alcohol research. Klatsky's presentation posed the question "Is Abstinence from Beer and Wine Hazardous to Your Health?" You can find the answer for yourself by viewing the presentation on the RMI website at

Our second speaker was Solomon Katz, professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. We were pleased that Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the College of Letters and Science provided the introduction for Dr. Katz. A second impromptu and personal introduction of Dr. Katz was provided by his close friend Fritz Maytag, RMI Honorary Board member and president of the Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco. Katz discussed the "Origins of Agriculture, the Rise of Civilization and the Evolution of Cuisine: The Special Roles of Fermented Food Beverages in Human History." You can view Katz' presentation at

The event was followed by a beautiful reception in the Mondavi Center Rumsey Rancheria Lobby, generously sponsored by Sutter Health. Many thanks also to the Davis Humanities Institute for helping to sponsor the fabulous student string quartet that provided the ambience for the event.

A sumptuous dinner was hosted that evening by Robert and Margrit Biever Mondavi in the Vineyard Room of the Robert Mondavi Winery for speakers and special guests. And of course the menu was hand-painted for the occasion by Margrit. What a splendid day!

UC Davis Olive Oil Recognition

By Nicole Sturzenberger


Sacramento Magazine recognized UC Davis Olive Oil as the "Best Environmentally Friendly Oil" in the magazine's "Best of Sacramento" issue. The magazine applauded the university for its creative and eco-friendly response to what had previously been a landscape nuisance.

Just a few years ago countless olive trees across the UC Davis campus had become a hazard and liability for the university as students slipped on fallen fruit littering walkways and bike paths. Sal Genito, director of Facilities Operations and Maintenance, took an innovative approach to this nuisance and started the production of UC Davis olive oil.

Since the start of production in 2005 the oil has received world-wide attention as well as the highest awards at the Los Angeles International Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Competition. The olive oil program also led the university to expand its outreach to the olive industry, culminating in the debut of the UC Davis Olive Center on January 14.

The center recently assumed responsibility for continuing production of the prized oil. Revenues will aid the center's efforts to provide education, research and outreach to California's expanding olive industry.

Center for Fruit and Vegetable Quality Launch Symposium

By Diane Barrett


The Center for Fruit and Vegetable Quality officially launched with a strategic symposium, "Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: Is it a Matter of Taste?" Four keynote speakers examined various factors on the issue of fruit and vegetable consumption followed by two five-minute commentaries from industry and government leaders. An animated discussion was then moderated by one of the faculty members. This structure worked exceedingly well and there was indeed a great deal of lively discussion.

The four invited speakers and titles of their presentations were:

  1. Dr. Diana Cassady, Assistant Professor, Center for Advanced Studies in Nutrition and Social Marketing, UC Davis, "Do the Poor Pay More?"
  2. Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, President and CEO, Produce for Better Health Foundation, "Barriers to Increasing Fruit & Vegetable Consumption"
  3. Dr. Elizabeth Baldwin, U.S. Citrus & Subtropical Products Lab, Florida, "Flavor: the Final Frontier"
  4. Dr. Nina Veflen Olsen, Matforsk Norwegian Food Research Institute, "Fruit and Vegetable Consumption - Not Just a Matter of Taste"

Dr. Cassady discussed the problem of low fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income consumers, and emerging trends in the food industry and food distribution that might affect produce consumption. She presented some of her own research on barriers to consumption - e.g., price, availability and quality - and concluded that while price and availability have been studied, quality is the last frontier. Dr. Pivonka presented AC Nielsen custom surveys conducted in 2004 and 2005. These surveys concluded that consumers still eat fruits and vegetables primarily to stay healthy and enjoy the taste, however more are doing so to feel good vs. straight taste. She cited price, fear of spoilage, and availability as reasons consumers are 'prevented' from eating more fruits and vegetables. Pivonka also discussed the importance of consumer ethnographics, and that barriers may differ by age, gender, ethnicity, heritage, and living environment.

Dr. Baldwin presented a comprehensive overview of the various things that affect flavor - genetics, cultural practices, harvest maturity, and postharvest handling. She discussed physiological factors affecting smell and taste, and the pros and cons of evaluating flavor using instrumental, and sensory panels. Dr. Olsen presented a case study of a healthy product called "Sweetgreens" developed for Norwegian teenagers. She discussed the development process, which involved internal and external analysis, design and brand development, concept testing, and finally the launch.

The "launch" event was concluded with a fruit and vegetable tasting. Over 70 individuals attended from the academic, government and industry sectors. "Commentators" represented the California Department of Health Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, industry associations, individual processors and shippers. The center is planning its second Strategic Symposium in the Spring 2008 quarter.

$12.5 Million Gift to Support Department of Viticulture and Enology

from UC Davis News & Information website

Louise Rossi

November 16, 2007

UC Davis today announced a gift of more than $12.5 million from the estate of Napa Valley native Louise Rossi to the campus's winemaking and grape growing program, here at a ranch that the Rossi family operated for almost a century.

The landmark gift, one of the largest donations ever made to UC Davis, represents the Rossi family's proceeds from the sale of their 52-acre ranch earlier this year. The money will be used to establish a perpetual source of funding for high-priority research projects focused on improving sustainable production practices and enhancing the flavor of grapes and wine.

To accomplish those goals, in the near term, the gift will finance the purchase of equipment in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. The first phase of the Robert Mondavi Institute is scheduled for completion in June 2008. The Department of Viticulture and Enology also plans to establish one or more endowed chairs, named in honor of Louise Rossi and her brother Ray Rossi, to support faculty positions focused on winemaking and grape growing.

"Louise Rossi and her family so typified the sprit of California agriculture," said Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. "We at UC Davis are quite humbled to be the recipients of their quiet generosity and the beneficiaries of their many decades of hard work."

Louise Rossi, who oversaw the Rossi family vineyard operations and its accounts until her death in February at age 99, was employed for many years as a bookkeeper for the B.L. Taylor Electric Company in St. Helena.

She and her brother Ray, a UC Davis alumnus who died in 1997 at age 91, have been longtime supporters of UC Davis through the Rossi Prize. They established the prize in 1979 to benefit viticulture and enology students from the Napa Valley, and to honor the memories of their parents, Fred and Rachel Rossi, and their brother, Arthur Rossi.

"Throughout her long life, Louise remained passionately committed to the art and business of winemaking and grape growing, and was fiercely proud of her family ranch's role in the history of the Napa Valley," said Elizabeth Leeds, one of Louise Rossi's longtime friends and co-executor for her estate.

"Louise's gift, which has been planned for many years, is intended to help build upon UC Davis' world-class winemaking and grape growing programs," Leeds said, "while honoring nearly a century of grape growing and winemaking by her family at the Rossi Ranch."

Added Andrew Waterhouse, chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology: "Through this incredibly generous gift, Louise Rossi is touching the lives of generations of Californians for years to come. We look forward to carrying out her vision of advancing UC Davis' grape growing and winemaking program to a new level of excellence.

"We are very pleased that Louise and Ray perceived such a substantial benefit from our efforts to support the industry over the years," Waterhouse added. "This gift, coming as UC Davis begins to celebrate its centennial anniversary, heralds an even more promising future."

To honor the Rossi's gift, the terrace overlooking the central courtyard of the campus's Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science will be named in honor of Ray and Louise Rossi. The terrace will have a commanding view of the nearby teaching vineyard and the Vaca Mountains, to the west. Three academic buildings, which comprise the first phase of the institute complex, are slated for completion in June 2008. Construction of a new winery, as well as a food science laboratory and brewery, will follow.

The Rossi family and ranch

The Rossi family's link to UC Davis was first established by Ray Rossi, who graduated in 1930 with a two-year degree certificate in agriculture.

Ray and Louise's parents, Ferdinando (Fred) Rossi and Rachel Sculatti, immigrated in the late 1800s from Switzerland and Italy, respectively. Fred's brother, Antone Rossi, had already moved to California in 1870. Nine years later, in 1879, Antone Rossi purchased property on the east side of the Napa Valley, began growing grapes and built a wine cellar.

Fred and Rachel married in 1896 and had three children: Arthur, born in 1901; Remo (Ray) in 1906; and Louise in 1907. Fred leased and then purchased property near St. Helena and became a successful vineyardist. He died in 1922 of a heart attack.

Upon his father's death, Art Rossi took charge of the family ranch and became a successful grape grower and winemaker in his own right. When he died in 1950 at age 49, one of the pallbearers was longtime friend and fellow winemaker Robert Mondavi.

Following Art's death, the winery on the Rossi Ranch was closed, and Rachel and Louise Rossi focused on raising grapes and selling them to Napa Valley wineries.

Ray Rossi was 16 years old when his father died. In 1927, he began his studies at UC Davis, which at that time was called the Northern Branch of the College of Agriculture. Graduating in 1930, Ray embarked on a successful career as a fruit buyer, working in grower relations. He primarily lived and worked in California's Central Valley.

In 1951, Rachel gave the ranch to Ray and Louise. After Rachel died in 1958, Louise and Ray ran the ranch together until he died in 1997.

The Rossi Ranch

Upon Ray's death, ownership of the Rossi Ranch passed solely into Louise's hands. The 52-acre ranch, with its white water tower surrounded by dry-farmed vineyards, has long been a Napa Valley landmark. Over the years, grapes grown on the ranch have produced some of Napa's premier wines.

Before her death, Louise Rossi had made plans for the family ranch to be sold to Frog's Leap Winery. John Williams, owner and winemaker of Frog's Leap nearby in Rutherford, and a UC Davis alumnus, was a longtime friend. Frog's Leap, established in 1981, uses only organically grown grapes and traditional winemaking techniques.

"Wines have been made from this piece of earth for more than a hundred years, and my family and I were very pleased that Louise saw fit to allow Frog's Leap to acquire it," Williams said. "We are deeply honored and excited to be able to maintain and evolve this iconic farm."

Media contact: Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

Gift Opportunity

By Melissa Haworth

Melissa Haworth

As the campus looks forward to the grand opening of the RMI academic buildings and the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Anheuser-Busch Brewing and Food Science Laboratory and the Teaching and Research Winery, we would like to invite you to be a part of this project.

Recently, alumni and industry friends of the departments of food science and technology and viticulture and enology were mailed an invitation to leave their mark on the new Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science by making a gift to support construction and equipping of the new facilities.

We have several ways to recognize donors to the Laboratory and Winery. Tax-deductible gifts of $500 or more received by March 1, 2008, will be acknowledged with an etched brick in the courtyard. Donors who contribute $1,000 or more may name a seat within the sensory center theater (limited number available) and all donations over $2,500 will be listed on the prominent donor wall within the RMI complex.

Click here to download and print the donation form to support the Teaching and Research Winery. (link)

Click here to download and print the donation form to support the Anheuser-Busch Brewing and Food Science Laboratory. This form also gives donors the option to recognize Carol Cooper with their gift. (link)

Please complete the form and mail to the address provided with your check or credit card information. If you have questions, call (530) 754-8562.

Thank you for your consideration. Collectively your gifts will make a strong statement and bring us one step closer to building world-class facilities for future generations.

Robert Mondavi Inducted into the California Museum Hall of Fame

By Clare M. Hasler

Governor Schwarzenegger congratulates Robert Mondavi as Margrit Biever Mondavi proudly looks on (photo courtesy of The California Museum)

Robert Mondavi was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on December 5, 2007. Presiding over the ceremony was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver. The California Hall of Fame, established in 2006, was conceived by Ms. Shriver to honor legendary people who embody California's innovative spirit and have made their mark on history. The California Hall of Fame is a landmark destination at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento. It inspires visitors by exhibiting the diverse, creative and innovative body of trailblazers, leaders and legends who have called California their home.

Other 2007 inductees included Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs, Rita Moreno, Willie Mays, Ansel Adams, Milton Berle, Jackie Robinson, Jonas Salk, John Steinbeck, Elizabeth Taylor, Earl Warren, and John Wayne. Past and present government officials in attendance included George Schultz, former California governors Gray Davis and Jerry Brown, as well as current San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple introduced Robert Mondavi, calling his life "the quintessential American success story." After the introduction, Gov. Schwarzenegger awarded Mondavi the Spirit of California Medal. Robert Mondavi has long been regarded as a global symbol of American wine and food. Robert Mondavi introduced technical improvements and marketing strategies that brought worldwide recognition to the wines of California's Napa Valley. He is also a generous human being known for his philanthropic spirit.

All the inductees donated artifacts to the museum for display. Among Mondavi's contributions were the giant corkscrew he used to break ground in June 2005 for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science at UC Davis; the certificate he received when he was awarded France's prestigious Legion of Honor Certificate; a replica of the cork-covered jacket he wore in a famous Jock McDonald photograph; the Olympic Torch he carried in 1996 at the Summer Olympics and two bottles of Mondavi wines.

Fancy Food Show Olive Center Reception

By Nicole Sturzenberger

Dan Flynn

Announcing that it wants to do for olives and olive oil what UC Davis has done for grapes and wine, the UC Davis Olive Center made a successful debut on January 14 at the Fancy Food Show in San Diego.

The center chose the winter show for the announcement because of the strong presence of California table olives and olive oil producers and the presence of national media. The center also held a reception, sponsored by the California Olive Council, to provide an opportunity for the California producers to discuss the center's plans and to exchange ideas.

Dan Flynn, the center's executive director, unveiled an ambitious agenda for the center's future. He described the center as being "in the right place at the right time" due to the unmatched resources of the university and rapid growth in the industry. He also introduced his new assistant, Nicole Sturzenberger, who will be aiding him in the growth of the olive center, and Clare Hasler, executive director of the RMI.

The announcement garnered a large amount of media attention with front-page coverage in The Sacramento Bee and The Davis Enterprise, as well as reporting by KFBK News, the Redding Record Searchlight, News 10 Sacramento, The Stockton Record, the California Farm Bureau News Service, and many industry blogs.

Holiday Gathering

By Patricia Glass

L to R: Humanities Institute Associate Director, Jennifer Langdon, Center for Fruit and Vegetable Quality Director Diane Barrett, Graduate School of Management Professor Bob Smiley and Professor JoAnn Cannon enjoy holiday festivities.
L to R: Arboretum Director Kathleen Socolofsky and husband Bob Gregoire join Entomology Professor Diane Ullman and RMI Executive Director Clare M. Hasler in toasting a New Year)

The RMI held a holiday gathering in mid-December at the UC Davis Silo Pub for invited guests to thank them for all their support of RMI programmatic activities over the past year. It was a relaxing event with festive holiday music and snacks, casual conversation and well-wishes as we said goodbye to the last year in our archaic facilities. We have much to look forward to in 2008!

Department of Viticulture & Enology Board of Visitors and Fellows Support Winery

By Kathy Barrientes

Kathy Barrientes

The Board of Visitors and Fellows (BVF) was established in 1999 as a support and advisory group for the Department of Viticulture and Enology, with a primary vision to build a new winery. Their vision and dedication will pay off this year when the Department of Viticulture and Enology will break ground for the winery in the new Robert Mondavi Institute complex. BVF members to date have contributed a combined $2 Million towards the $8.5 Million raised.

The BVF is a select group of friends of the Department of Viticulture and Enology who are dedicated to superior teaching and research and are committed to maintaining the world-class grape and wine industries in California as well as in the United States as a whole.

BVF members are industrial leaders, educators, wine appreciators and interested friends and colleagues. Rod Park (chair of the BVF, retired interim chancellor of UC Merced, vice chancellor of UC Berkeley and president of University of Colorado at Boulder, and wine grape grower) and Jerry Lohr (BVF member, president and founder of J. Lohr Wines and Vineyard) each donated $500K to the project. They have also served as members of the winery building committees and have given numerous hours of their time to promote the winery with other prospective donors.

Other board member support for the winery include major gifts from Alan and Gladys Hoefer, Ed and Irene Ojdana, Joan and the late Lew Platt, Ted Briggs, Peter and Merle Mullin, Rich and Claudia Smith, David and Eugenia Ruegg, Bill and Mary Traverso, Vernon and Mary Lee Altman, Charles and Kalani Engles, and Jeff and Darice O'Neill.

These members have and continue to provide leadership to the department, develop assets to enhance and promote the department to the public and the grape industry and wine communities. The personnel of the department, the college and the new winery are thankful for this group of talented individuals that give of their time, expertise and resources for the future of teaching and research in winemaking and winegrape growing. The department and college would like to thank the BVF for their continued advisory and philanthropic support to the winery!

Conferences and Events


Wine Executive Program Returns

Downtown Sacramento, March 9-13, 2008

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management and Department of Viticulture and Enology present their annual Wine Executive Program. Over 350 industry professionals have attended this top-level professional development program focused on the management and winemaking skills critical to success in the industry.

Please go to for more information.


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2008 Brewers and Vintners Scientific Symposium and Workshop

UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center, April 2-3, 2008


The American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), the Fermented Foods and Beverages Division of IFT, and the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute are hosting the 2008 Brewers and Vintners Scientific Symposium and Workshop, April 2-3, 2008, at UC Davis. This year the format is a day and one half beginning with a workshop on April 2 demonstrating old and new world styles of beer and wine. This is followed by a full day symposium on April 3 with topics including: Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulatory updates, DNA microarray analysis of brewers and wine yeast genomes, control of diacetyl in brewing, Brettanomyces aroma compound production, sulfide production by yeast, and flavor development in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in response to abiotic stress.

For more details and to register, click here:


Women, Wine & Music

UC Davis Mondavi Center Studio Theatre, April 30, 2008


Leading women winemakers of California will be on campus to lead a panel discussion and guided wine-tasting, followed by a silent auction reception which includes an informal wine-tasting. The Consortium for Women and Research and the RMI is proud to bring Margrit Biever Mondavi, Michela Rodena, Heidi Barrett, and Karen MacNeil, as well as several other wineries, to this tasty event! Registration and more information can be found at:

RMI Spring 2008 Lectureship

UC Davis Mondavi Center Studio Theatre, May 2, 2008


Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster's Table, has accepted the invitation to be one of the featured speakers at the next RMI lectureship. We're thrilled to host this entertaining lecturer who is sure to illustrate his expertise on traditional beer styles and their affinity with good food. Danny Meyer, restaurateur and co-author, The Union Square Cookbook, writes, "The Brewmaster's Table solidly anoints Garrett Oliver as the Robert Parker of beer. This intelligent tome to foam answers every imaginable question any connoisseur or amateur could possibly have on the subject." -- More information on the lectureship will be posted to our website and sent by e-mail to our list. To be added to the list for updates, send an e-mail to




Contributers to "RMI E-newsletter"

  • Clare M. Hasler, Executive Director, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, (530) 754-6349,
  • Allen Lowry, Sr. Project Manager, Architects & Engineers, (530) 757-3391,
  • Diane Barrett, Cooperative Extension Specialist, Food Science and Technology Department, (530) 752-4800,
  • Nicole Sturzenberger, Senior Writer, Operations and Maintenance Grounds Services,
  • Melissa Haworth, Director of Major Gifts, CA&ES Dean's Office, (530) 754-8562,
  • Kathy Barrientes, Director of Major Gifts, CA&ES Dean's Office, (530) 752-1602,
  • Patricia Glass, Administration/Event Coordinator, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, (530) 754-6349,
  • Ann Filmer, Director of Communications, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-6788,

To change your subscription status, please contact Patricia Glass.

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