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E-news #018: Spring 2009

In This Issue

Executive Director's Update

By Clare M. Hasler

01clare.jpgIt has been an incredibly busy few months at the Robert Mondavi Institute and we aren’t expecting things to slow down anytime soon! We have hosted a number of wonderful events, including two in support of the Good Life Garden and a Sensory Defects in Olive Oil course by the UC Davis Olive Center. The Olive Center also released an exciting line of Sicilian-style tableolives on Picnic Day that can be purchased at the UC Davis Bookstore.

The new RMI Board of Executives had a very productive inaugural meeting on March 23 (see story below) and met again on May 16. That was the same day as our “Beer vs. Cheese: Mastering the Marriage” event featuring professors Charlie Bamforth and Moshe Rosenberg.  It was a delightful tasting and educational experience that will be profiled in the summer issue of the E-news.

Last but not least, the 13.5-acre teaching and research vineyard at the RMI is finally becoming a reality. A crew began planting 5,000 vines next to Old Davis Road on April 22 under the supervision of winemaker Chik Brenneman (see story below). What a beautiful new gateway to campus it will be.

Clare Signature


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RMI Board of Executives Holds Inaugural Meeting

Executive board members (from left, front row) Margaret Lawson, Clay Gregory, Jane Killebrew-Gileski, Darrell Corti; (back row) Paul Coletta, Glenn Nedwin, Robert Boynton, Clare Hasler, Greg Drescher, and Jean-Michel Valette. (Photo by Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

The Robert Mondavi Institute Board of Executives held its inaugural meeting on Friday, March 23, at UC Davis. This working board will provide strategic external advice and leadership from diverse perspectives in the wine, brewing, and food industries, and help build support for the institute and its programs. Current board members include:

  • Robert Boynton, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, Leprino Foods Company
  • Paul Coletta, former senior vice president, Marketing and Brand Development, Jamba Juice
  • Darrell Corti, owner, Corti Brothers grocers, Sacramento
  • Greg Drescher, senior director, Strategic Initiatives, Culinary Institute of America
  • Greg Fowler, senior vice president, Operations, Constellation Wines U.S.
  • Al Giuliani, retired president and chief operating officer, Ready Pac Produce
  • Clay Gregory, president, Jackson Family Wines
  • Jane Killebrew-Gileski, director of innovation, Anheuser-Busch-InBev Zone North America
  • Margaret Lawson, vice president, Science and Innovation, D.D. Williamson
  • Harold McGee, author, “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen”
  • Glenn Nedwin, board chair and executive vice president, Technical Enzymes, Genencor
  • Warren Quilliam, vice president, Brewing and Quality Assurance, Molson-Coors Brewing Company
  • Jean-Michel Valette, chairman of the board, Peet’s Coffee & Tea

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Growing a New Gateway

By Cory Golden, Davis Enterprise staff writer
Published: April 23, 2009

Crew from D. Campos, Inc., Woodland, Calif., begins planting 5,000 vines at the RMI teaching vineyard on April 22. (Photo by John Stumbos/UC Davis)

On Wednesday [April 22], work began on what may be at least as visually important to UC Davis' developing south entryway as the hotel soon to break ground there: a 13.5-acre teaching vineyard. Staff winemaker Chik Brenneman of the department of viticulture and enology and his yellow Lab, Maui, watched as about three dozen workers from D. Campos Inc. of Woodland planted rootstock amid trellises and drip irrigation lines laid out beside the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

For now, it doesn't look like much more than 8-inch sticks protected from rabbits by 2-foot-tall, laminated tubes. But soon enough, rows and rows of leafy green vines along Old Davis Road will "make a real statement" to those driving by or arriving at the campus, Brenneman said. "It'll be a prouder day on the day of the first crop, but it's a nice complement to the spot," he said. "Everyone I know who drives by (on Interstate 80) asks, 'Do you have something to do with that?' "

About 5,000 vines were to be planted Wednesday and today. Eventually, some 300 kinds of wine grapes will be represented. The plants will be divided into different blocks:

A "heritage" block that will mix 230 vines of five varieties grown in the free-standing style of classic California or old-world vineyards;

150 total vines covering 75 varieties of grapes students will use to learn about and memorize form and structure;

A demonstration block of about 110 plants using eight different trellis systems;

A production block of about 2,500 vines that will produce fruit for winemaking classes. Albariño, verdelho, vermintino, petit sirah and French colombard grapes have been chosen because they do well in warmer climates — and can be harvested in mid- to late September, closer to the start of classes. Hidden inside this area will be "test blocks," where students will be quizzed on vine identification.

Student rotation blocks of 2,000 vines to be planted year by year. Eventually, six blocks will provide students with plants ages one year to six years old, with two more sections left fallow in a given year. What varieties will be grown there is still being sorted out. Students will use different trellis systems to see how they affect the wine-making process.

Two-vine sets of grapes representing 200 varieties and wine-growing regions. Those will grow just outside the new 46,000-square-foot teaching and research winery, a $16.5 million facility to be constructed in time for the 2010 harvest. Either next fall or in the spring of 2010, cuttings of different varieties will be grafted onto the rootstock donated by Sunridge Nurseries of Bakersfield. The vineyard's first harvest is likely about three years away.

In a given year, Brenneman estimated about 45 to 50 students will use the new vineyard in some way. For example, beginning viticulture students will learn, over three successive quarters, identification, pruning techniques and planting, maintenance and vine training. "The first-year students will have a lot of work to do," he said. Most of the vineyard will be on a manually controlled drip irrigation system, though Brenneman said Wednesday he hoped the heritage portion can be dry-farmed. Some herbicide will be used, primarily sulfur.

"(In terms of sustainability), you work the site you have the best you can do it and still be friendly to the Earth — especially on Earth Day," Brenneman said.

The planting and ongoing maintenance of the new vineyard will be supported, in part, by about $1 million in private donations.

UC Davis also has about 100 acres of grapes planted near the University Airport, just west of Highway 113 on Hopkins Road, and another 40 acres in Napa. Brenneman said some areas are due for replanting; others may be left fallow or used for research.

RMI Serves as Venue for Picnic Day 2009 Festivities

By Libby Clow


If you were anywhere near Davis on April 18, the telltale traffic jams, merry revelers, and extraordinarily long line at Burgers and Brew might have clued you in that the annual UC Davis Picnic Day celebration was afoot. While this daylong tradition has been a mainstay of the quintessential UC Davis experience for the last 95 years, this was the debut Picnic Day celebration for the six-month-old RMI, and one that certainly did not disappoint.

The departments of Food Science, and Viticulture and Enology, along with the Building and Grounds Division and the UC Davis Olive Center joined forces to put together a series of educational and entertaining booths and programs designed to attract and introduce Picnic Day attendees to the beautiful RMI facilities. While a formal count of attendees could not be obtained, a steady stream of visitors stopped by the various tasting tables set up in the Good Life Garden. The Olive Center launched its new line of UC Davis Table Olives and offered tastings at the event, a comparison of organic versus conventional asparagus was hosted by Good Life Garden staff, food science cranked out ice cream for the warm and weary, and the viticulture and enology department offered up demonstrations on vine pruning and fermentation.

Inside the Sensory Building, visitors could cool off and attend one of four introductory tasting courses in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre. Two chocolate tastings, a produce tasting, and an olive-oil tasting were staged in the state-of-the-art sensory space to highlight the kinds of educational opportunities being offered within the RMI to the general public.

The success of the events at the RMI must be attributed to the combined efforts of the students, staff, faculty, and volunteers who provided abundant stamina and an endless supply of smiles. It was a delight to have so many people in our “home,” and we look forward to an equally successful Picnic Day 2010.

Sensory Defects in Olive Oil

By Nicole Sturzenberger


Continuing with its mission to educate the public on olive oil, the UC Davis Olive Center offered its first class of 2009 — with a new twist to start out the New Year. Unlike previous courses which predominately presented the positive characteristics of olive oil and how to taste the product, this course focused on the negative. Olive oil expert Paul Vossen led participants through a number of rancid, fusty, muddy sediment, musty, and winey olive oils, explaining why and how each defect occurred. The course was beneficial for producers who came to learn how to identify these characteristics, as well as how to achieve and maintain olive oil quality. The class was equally beneficial for consumers who wished to learn more about this often intimidating product. With so many olive oils for sale at a wide range of prices, participants smelled and tasted their way through each defect, gaining a better understanding and confidence for their next trip to the market.

The Olive Center will continue to offer educational courses in 2009, starting with a sensory course on May 20, “Raising the Bar on Olive Oil Quality: Views from Down Under,” focusing on experiences and marketing strategies from Australian taste panel leader Richard Gawel and New Zealand producer and taste panel member Margaret Edwards. The course will also offer opportunities to taste single variety oils, some up-and-coming cultivars, and experience a blending workshop. On June 21–23 the Olive Center, along with the Culinary Institute of America, will host “Beyond Extra Virgin,” an international conference on excellence in olive oil, from agriculture to sensory evaluation to the culinary arts. For more information on both courses visit the Olive Center website,

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RMI Celebrates the California Gold Rush

By Kira O’Donnell


On Saturday, January 31, 2009, the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, in partnership with California State Parks, celebrated the 160th anniversary of the 1849 California Gold Rush by hosting a unique event at the California Railroad Museum. Entitled “The California Gold Rush: What We Ate,” this educational and entertaining event explored the Gold Rush flavors and dishes that characterized everyday life in the Mother Lode.

Featured speakers were James Henley, former manager of the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center, and nationally recognized food historian Ann Chandonnet, author of “Gold Rush Grub: From Turpentine Stew to Hoochinoo.” The 225 attendees relished a meal which included Native American acorn and pine nut cakes, Hangtown fry, “Yankee” baked beans with bacon and molasses, and salmon with wild greens. The beverages of the evening were a custom-brewed, historically accurate “California Common” beer, and Barton & Guestier red Bordeaux and Sauternes wines.

Live music was provided by the El Dorado Brass Band of Old Sacramento. Proceeds from this sold-out event benefited the UC Davis Good Life Garden, located within the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. The garden’s mission is to celebrate the relationship between good food and good health by linking the culinary arts, nutrition, and wine and food sciences in an academic setting. For more information about the Good Life Garden, please visit

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RMI Hosts Tasty Exploration of Asian Lunar Year

By Kira O’Donnell


On February 12, 2009, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science hosted culinary historian and Asian food expert Thy Tran at the Barton Art Gallery in midtown Sacramento. Tran, director of the Asian Culinary Forum and webmaster of, spoke about the Asian Lunar New Year to a full house of 40 attendees.

Lunar New Year, celebrated by Asian cultures throughout the world, is a time for reunion and renewal with loved ones and friends, and food plays an essential and meaningful role in these celebrations. Tran colorfully discussed various cultures’ approaches to the celebration of Lunar New Year, and the significance of the foods they eat during this very important holiday season. Her presentation was followed by a tasting of an intriguing selection of Lunar New Year dishes, including Chinese jaozi (Beijing-style boiled dumplings) and lo han jai (a vegetarian dish also known as “Buddha’s Delight”), Korean duk gook (rice cake soup), Nepalese alu kauli ko tarkari (potatoes and cauliflower cooked with tomatoes, cilantro, and roasted cumin), and Vietnamese banh chung (sticky rice cakes with pork meat and green beans). There was also a wonderful array of Asian beers for attendees to sample.

Proceeds from this sold-out event benefited the UC Davis Good Life Garden, located within the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

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UC Davis Olive Center Launches New Line of Sicilian-Style Table Olives

By Elizabeth Clow


The UC Davis Olive Center is thrilled to announce its release of a line of Sicilian-style table olives at UC Davis Picnic Day, April 18, 2009. These brine-cured olives come in three delicious varieties: Sicilian spiced, gourmet garlic, and lemon citrus, and are on sale for just $7 per 10 oz. jar. This product line was made possible by generous donations from West Coast Products and Penna Gourmet Olives in Orland, Calif. West Coast Products, producer of specialty olive products and brine-cured olives since 1937, donated Sevillano olives that they cured in brine for nine months. Penna Gourmet Olives, a gourmet olive producer for more than 30 years, donated their services in marinating and bottling the olives.

The UC Davis Sicilian-style table olives are on sale at the UC Davis Bookstore and via the bookstore website

All proceeds fund the UC Davis Olive Center and support the continued partnership between UC Davis and California table olive and olive oil producers.

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American Dietetic Association Releases Revised Position Paper on Functional Foods


If you are eager to explore the health benefits of "functional foods" but not quite sure just what the term means, take heart — the American Dietetic Association has published new guidelines that explain what functional foods are and why they are important.

The association's position paper on functional foods is published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

"Of course, all foods are functional at some physiological level," said Clare M. Hasler, executive director of UC Davis' Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, who is the lead author on the paper, co-authored by Amy C. Brown, an associate professor of complementary and alternative medicine at the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine.

"The term functional foods, however, specifically applies to conventional foods and to fortified, enriched, or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on the health of people who regularly consume them as part of a varied diet," Hasler said. "These are foods that not only provide necessary calories but also may reduce the risk of chronic disease or promote optimal health."

She noted that "functional foods" is a marketing term, rather than a legal definition, and has slightly different meanings in different countries.

Broccoli, nuts, and tomatoes are examples of conventional foods with functional properties. Modified foods include calcium-enhanced orange juice, folate-enriched breads, and foods formulated with bioactive ingredients like fish oils.

Medical functional foods include formulas that are free of phenylalanine for infants who are unable to metabolize that particular protein. And functional foods for special dietary uses include gluten-free products for people who cannot digest gluten, found in wheat and related grains, and lactose-free foods for individuals who can't tolerate the lactose sugar found in dairy products.

The complete functional foods position paper, as well as other nutritional information, is available at the American Dietetic Association website:

UC Davis News Release:


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Revised ‘Beer’ Taps into New Areas of World’s Favorite Alcoholic Beverage


Charles Bamforth has just served up another round of "Beer," topping off his witty and engaging book, now in its third edition, with new information about the world's most popular alcoholic beverage.

"Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing" was first released in 1998; its third edition was published by Oxford University Press in March 2009.

Bamforth, UC Davis' Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences and former chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology, describes it as "a reader-friendly journey through the history, sociology, business shifts, and the basic technology of brewing, with just a gentle sprinkling of science."

The book is aimed at anyone who is curious about the world of beer and brewing — someone who does not want to be overwhelmed by a heavy read but who also does not like being short-changed on important information, Bamforth said.

The third edition brings the reader up-to date on changes that have occurred in the world of brewing in recent years, most notably a series of mergers and acquisitions. It profiles the biggest brewers of the day, the top-selling brands, and where the most beer is drunk.

Full justice is done to the craft-brewing sector, including a new section on Anchor Brewing to complement an updated piece on California's Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Other diverse topics include Margaret Thatcher's "ill-considered dismantling" of the United Kingdom's beer business, beer and health, how bottles and cans are made, and where to beg, borrow, or actually steal yeast.

Bamforth has also added detailed information on Prohibition and on hop growing in the Pacific Northwest, as well as new sections on beer in relation to food, contrasting attitudes toward beer in Europe and America, and how beer is marketed, distributed, and retailed in the United States.

Bamforth began his work in the brewing industry in 1978 and joined the UC Davis faculty in 1999. Before coming to UC Davis, he served as deputy director-general of Brewing Research International and research manager and quality assurance manager of Bass Brewers.

He has written several other books on beer and brewing, including "Scientific Principles of Malting and Brewing" (2006), "Food, Fermentation, and Micro-organisms" (2005), "Beer: Health and Nutrition" (2004), and "Standards of Brewing: Formulas for Consistency and Excellence" (2002). Bamforth also is the co-author of "Essays in Brewing Science" (2006) and in 2008 he published "Grape Versus Grain," which he considers to be a "completely unbiased" comparison of wine and beer.

"Beer, Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing" can be ordered online:

UC Davis News Release:

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RMI Hosts the UC Davis Chancellor’s Club

By Clare M. Hasler


On Saturday April 4, the Robert Mondavi Institute hosted the UC Davis Chancellor’s Club (DCC) for “Grain versus Grape,” a spirited and informational debate between Charlie Bamforth, the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair of Malting and Brewing Sciences, and Andy Waterhouse, chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology and the holder of the John E. Kinsella Chair in Food, Nutrition, and Health. The debate, which was held at the RMI in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre, concluded with a wine and beer tasting. Over 100 guests attended including DCC members, UC Davis Trustees, UC Davis staff, and RMI invited guests.

During his very entertaining presentation on the noble beverage, Charlie Bamforth said: “It is always fun to debate the relative merits of wine and the altogether more interesting, complex, and delightful beer!”

“It was a pleasant afternoon addressing a sophisticated and appreciative audience on the merits of the complexity and well-established health effects of wine,” stated Andy Waterhouse. “It was a struggle for our beer advocate with this crowd. Suggestions welcome, except from Charlie!”


Established 30 years ago, the DCC is the university’s oldest giving recognition society with over 580 members who contribute annual gifts of $1,000 or more. These donors are among the most loyal and generous alumni, parents, and friends of UC Davis and have a broad range of interests in the campus. Each year the DCC hosts a series of activities for its members including “Fireside Chats” and “Insider Tours”. Activities provide members and their guests an opportunity to learn about or experience an interesting program or dimension of UC Davis.

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Upcoming Events


Contributers to "RMI E-newsletter"

  • Pat Bailey, information representative, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,
  • Charles Bamforth, professor, UC Davis Food Science and Technology, (530) 752-9476,
  • Libby Clow, program representative, UC Davis Olive Center, (530) 754-9301
  • Ann Filmer, Director of Communications, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-6788,
  • Cory Golden, staff writer, Davis Enterprise, (530) 747-8046,
  • Clare M. Hasler, Executive Director, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, (530) 754-6349,
  • Jeff Hudson, staff writer, The Davis Enterprise, (530) 756-0800,
  • Kira O’Donnell, senior writer, UC Davis Grounds,
  • John Sumbos, senior writer, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-4979,
  • Nicole Sturzenberger, senior writer, UC Davis Olive Center, (530) 754-9301,