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E-news #014: Spring 2008

Executive Director Message

By Clare M. Hasler


I'm pinching myself! In a little over 3 months we will be moving into the new academic complex for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. And then just a few months later, on the morning of October 10, 2008, we will formally celebrate the grand opening. The planning committee for this auspicious event has been meeting regularly to discuss the events of the day and you definitely don't want to miss the festivities. We are hopeful that Governor Schwarzenegger will participate (the state of California is the largest donor to the project, at over $33 million). There will also be other surprises, interesting and entertaining educational programs, and, of course, plenty of food, beer and wine to be enjoyed by all!

Although the Big Event in October will be a significant focus of our efforts for the next several months, there are many other great things going on in the RMI. In the January issue we announced the launch of the new Olive Center. I'm pleased to announce that there is now a new face to an existing RMI Center - the Center for Wine Economics. Professor Julian Alston from the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics has agreed to take over as director of this center which will officially launch on July 1.

There are also new faces on the RMI Executive Committee. I am pleased that Carolyn de la Peña, David Mills, and Carl Winter have agreed to participate and lend me their counsel. Many thanks to DeeDee Kitterman, Carl Keen, and Dan Sperling for their four years of service on this committee. The RMI wouldn't be where it is today without their strategic input.

I look forward to seeing you all at the grand opening in October!

Clare's Signature

RMI Construction Update

By Allen Lowry


Construction on the Robert Mondavi Institute complex is 90 percent complete. The entire exterior skin is complete with the exception of the tall glass-stair tower; that will be complete by June 1. Finishing touches on lab utilities are underway in every building. Light fixtures are on in the north lab and are being installed elsewhere. Floor finishes of all types, including tile, carpeting, concrete stain, and linoleum are being installed in the north lab. The project is now ready for the installation of large pieces of existing equipment such as autoclaves. Landscaping and paving in the courtyard is well underway. Office furniture will begin installation in July and the remainder of moves will occur in time for full operation by fall quarter and the grand opening in October.

Robert Mondavi Institute
Center for Wine Economics

By Clare M. Hasler

Julian Alston

The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science is pleased to announce that Julian Alston, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, has been named the new director of the RMI Center for Wine Economics.

More information on Professor Alston can be found at the following link:

The RMI Center for Wine Economics will focus on economic developments in the domestic and international markets for wine, and their implications for competitiveness of the wine industry in California and the United States. The center will emphasize applied research but will be engaged in teaching and outreach activities related to its theme of wine economics. The research program will encompass a variety of concurrent projects funded through grants and contracts and cooperative agreements. It will be based initially on currently established projects -emphasizing the implications of science and technology on production, and government policies and programs as they affect grapes and wine - but will expand over time to incorporate new programs and projects developed expressly for the center.

The center will serve as a primary source for information on wine economics through a state-of-the-art Web page, to be launched July 1, 2008. The Web page will include information from the center's own projects and programs as well as links to other sources of information, especially sister centers around the state, nation, and the world.

New Faculty Join RMI Executive Committee

By Clare M. Hasler

The RMI Executive Committee is delighted to welcome three new faculty participants: Carolyn de la Peña, Dave Mills, and Carl Winter.

Carolyn de la Pena

Carolyn de la Peña is the director of the Davis Humanities Institute ( and professor of American Studies in the College of Letters and Science. Her research and teaching interests focus on popular technology and science, material and business cultures, gender, and food. Professor de la Peña's current project is a cultural history of the production and consumption of artificial sweeteners in the United States. She has written previously on the machines of Krispy Kreme, the spaces of Prada stores, and the popularity of electric belts. She is the author of The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American (NYU, 2003) and the co-author of Rewiring the "Nation": The Place of Technology in American Studies (Johns Hopkins, 2007). Professor de la Peña also coordinates a new multi-campus research group, "Studies of Food and the Body," which brings together faculty and graduate-student scholars in the humanities and social sciences from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz who are exploring the relationship between food, the body, and culture (see

David Mills

David Mills is a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. His research centers on the microbial ecology and genomics of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). A general goal is to investigate the linkage between genome content, ecological context, and specific strain behavior that enables a more comprehensive understanding of LAB biology in their "working" environments. Research topics investigated in his laboratory include wine microbial ecology, consumption of prebiotic oligosaccharides by probiotics, genomics of lactic acid bacteria, and applied lactococcal genetics. For more information about Professor Mills, please visit his website at:

Carl Winter

Carl Winter is the Cooperative Extension food toxicologist, Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He researches the detection of pesticides and naturally occurring toxins in foods, how to assess their risks and identify how to use the science in the regulatory decision-making process. His most recent work includes looking at the relationships between crop production systems and naturally-occurring toxins. He also studies how to improve educational activities through incorporation of music into food-safety curricula. Dr. Winter is the project director of a USDA CSREES national integrated food safety initiative project, "Improving Food Safety Education Through Use of Music-Based Curricula," which involves the University of Idaho, Clemson University, the University of Delaware, and North Carolina State University. For more information on Professor Winter, please visit his website at:

Please help me welcome Carolyn, Dave, and Carl to the RMI Executive Committee. I look forward to their counsel over the coming years.


"Time in a Bottle"

By Kathy Barrientes

Clare Hasler, Margrit Mondavi, Andy Waterhouse, and Dean Neal Van Alfen

Margrit Mondavi recently brought her team of winemakers from the Robert Mondavi Winery to UC Davis for a tour of the new Robert Mondavi Institute complex which will be completed this summer. Bob Segar, Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Campus Planning, and Alan Lowry, senior project manager, led the group through the courtyard, sensory center, and state-of-the-art laboratories in the academic buildings. Neal Van Alfen, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, executive director Clare Hasler and Andy Waterhouse, interim chair, Department of Viticulture and Enology, joined them to provide updates on the college, RMI, and Department of Viticulture and Enology. A wine and cheese reception in the Mondavi Center Bartholomew Room followed the tour.

As a special tribute to Mrs. Mondavi and "Team Mondavi," Chik Brenneman, winemaker and manager of the viticulture and enology department teaching winery and the department wine cellar, poured a 1971 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This extraordinary vintage was stored in the department's cellar, just waiting for such a perfect occasion! Margrit, and the winemakers who worked for the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1971, reminisced about this vintage and other fond memories from that era. Perhaps time truly is saved in a bottle, at least when it comes to wine.

We thank Robert and Margrit Mondavi for their incredible vision in creating the RMI and look forward to celebrating the grand opening of the academic buildings and ceremonial groundbreaking of the Winery and Anheuser-Busch Brewing and Food Science Laboratory on October 10. This event will also kick-off the campus' year of centennial celebrations as we look to the next 100 years of teaching future winemakers!

RMI Sponsors "The Big Tomato"

By Georgeanne Brennan


The Big Tomato, the 2008 festival celebrating Yolo County's top crop - processing tomatoes - was held at the Davis Farmers Market in Central Park on Saturday, March 15, from 10:00 am to noon. The RMI was among the many co-sponsors of this fun-filled family event!

Processing tomatoes remain, by far, the county's leading commodity crop, increasing 13 percent in 2006 over the previous year to a farm-gate receipt value of over $77 million. This figure is just a portion of the economic value of the tomato crop to the county. The multiplier effect of field labor, processing, transportation, marketing, equipment rental, banking, and other farm-related services that tomatoes bring to the area make them what local growers call the driver for this economy.

Processing tomatoes account for over 37,000 acres of the county's rich, Class I soil. Ninety percent of all the processed tomato products consumed in the entire United States come from tomatoes grown in California; Yolo County alone supplied 1,320,509 tons of those tomatoes in 2006, making it the third-largest producer in the state. When you order pizza at a restaurant, whether it's in Davis or Chicago, and it comes slathered with tomato sauce, you can be ninety percent sure that the sauce was made from California processing tomatoes.

So, the next time you're out and about on the back roads of Yolo County, look for the many fields of processing tomatoes! For more information about food, wine, and agriculture in Yolo County, visit For more information about tomato nutrition, visit

2008 Brewers and Vintners Scientific Symposium and Workshop

By Clare M. Hasler


The Robert Mondavi Institute, in partnership with the American Society of Brewing Chemists and the Fermented Foods and Beverages Division of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), hosted the 2008 Brewers and Vintners Scientific Symposium and Workshop at UC Davis on April 2-3.

This fourth annual symposium was designed to reach brewers and vintners, laboratory personnel, academics, and allied professionals in the brewing and winemaking industries. The event provided a unique opportunity to meet in a technical forum to discuss topics salient to both beer and wine.

On Wednesday afternoon, attendees were treated to a "Wine and Beer Style Workshop." Florian Kuplent, staff brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch kicked the afternoon off with a discussion and guided tasting of "Old and New World Beer Styles." Patrick Dodd, director of marketing, wine education and trade hospitality at E. & J. Gallo Winery concluded the afternoon with a guided tasting and discussion of "New and Old World Wine Styles."

Thursday involved a day-long series of seminars on topics ranging from a regulatory update from the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to flavor development in cabernet sauvignon grapes in response to stress. For more information about the 2008 Brewers and Vintners Symposium and Workshop, visit

UC Davis Olive Oil Launch Party

By Nicole Sturzenberger

Photo by: Katie Hetrick

The annual UC Davis Olive Oil Launch Party opened to record crowds this year. The event drew nearly 1,000 people, making it the largest event of its kind since UC Davis Buildings and Grounds began producing oil in 2005.

The event attracted both the campus and Davis communities. Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center, stated that this was the campus's best year yet for production. Proceeds from the olive oil will help fund the operational costs of the new Olive Center within the RMI, which connects the academic resources of the university with the research needs of the California olive industry.

In addition to tasting the new olive oils, attendees enjoyed the release of the first Dinny Vinegar and enjoyed samples of local olive oils, table olives, beers, and wines from producers who were on hand.

The launch was highlighted by the Olive Center's presentation of the first annual Hartmann Award. Dr. Hudson Hartmann was an olive expert who served with the university's Department of Pomology from 1940 to 1980. Created to honor top individuals in the olive world, the award was presented to Sal Genito, director of the Division of Buildings and Grounds, for his founding of the UC Davis Olive Oil program and his early advocacy for establishing the UC Davis Olive Center.

The launch party has become a signature campus event that celebrates newly released olive oils and the university's long history of collaboration with olive producers.

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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,
  • Nicole Sturzenberger, Senior Writer, Operations and Maintenance Grounds Services,
  • 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,
  • Georgeanne Brennan, Cookbook author and Journalist, Yolo County Agricultural Marketing Initiative, (530) 754-6788,
  • Ann Filmer, Director of Communications, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-6788,
  • Whitney Bell, Assistant, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science,

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