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E-news #020: Fall 2009

In This Issue


Executive Director's Update

By Clare M. Hasler


The holiday season is fast approaching and for me, as for many of you, it is a wonderful time to reflect on past achievements and future aspirations.

This was a significant year in many respects for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. The institute underwent an extensive five-year review of its programs and structure, and as a result strategic changes have been made to the membership of the RMI Executive Committee, the internal advisory group that advises me on programmatic initiatives, goals, and objectives. I look forward to working with both new and continuing members serving on this very important committee.

This year the RMI also established a Board of Executives of 13 leaders in the food, wine, and brewing industries to provide strategic external advice for the RMI.   This highly engaged group met three times over the past nine months and will meet again in February. I will be working very closely with both the executive committee and the board of executives over the next few months in formulating the RMI Strategic Plan through 2014.

Another board which has supported the RMI vision for the past five years is the Honorary Board . I’m so very pleased that one of our Honorary Board members, Fritz Maytag, was honored with an Award of Distinction during the 21st annual College Celebration for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in October . Fritz has been a great friend of the College and the RMI.

The UC Davis Olive Center continues to excel in all respects in its mission to serve the olive oil and table olive industries. The center has hosted many events around the region this past year and has also initiated several research projects. It has also recently added a new staff member, Kiley Athanasiou who joined us in September from Rice University. See more about Kiley in the story below . Her office is located in the RMI Sensory Building, room 1023. The center has also just released a new Centennial Blend Olive Oil. Supply is going fast so get yours soon to enjoy over the holidays!

2009 has also been a successful year for the RMI Center for Wine Economics. Under the direction of Julian Alston, the center website is fast being recognized as the international “go to place” for information on wine economics. See an update from Julian on center activities below.

Finally, and on a more personal note, it was an incredible honor for me to be a featured speaker at the UC Davis Fall Convocation on September 23 . The experience was truly one of the highlights of my professional career. It was an incredible honor to share the stage with our new UC Davis chancellor, Linda Katehi. Clearly UC Davis is entering its “sustainable and transformative” second century with a very inspiring and visionary leader!

My best to you and your families this holiday season.

Clare Signature


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Construction Update on Winery, Brewery, and Food Processing Facility

By Julianne Nola


Construction of the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory and the Teaching and Research Winery is well underway. The majority of the site utilities are in place (water, steam, chilled water, natural gas, storm, sewer, power, and communications) as well as the under-building utilities. Concrete has been poured, creating the building pad (actually, pads—we had five separate pours). Steel arrived on site and is now being craned into place creating the framework of the building and an exciting view from I-80. During the next months, the exterior skin, window systems, and roof will be installed.

The project remains on schedule for completion in August 2010. Construction work can be viewed on the live webcam, which is also on the home page of the RMI website.

New Faces on the RMI Executive Committee

By Clare Hasler


New members of the RMI executive committee.  From left: Sharon Shoemaker, Linda Bisson, Bruce German

For more than five years, an executive committee of UC Davis faculty and administrators has provided me with strategic advice on RMI programs and initiatives. I am grateful to several faculty who have recently stepped down from service on this committee, including Robert Smiley, who recently retired as a professor (and former dean) in the Graduate School of Management; David Mills, professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, now on sabbatical; and Michael Parrella, former associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and new chair of the Department of Entomology.

I am very pleased that several new faculty and administrators have agreed to serve on the Executive Committee, including Linda Bisson, professor, Department of Viticulture and Enology; Sharon Shoemaker, executive director of the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (CIFAR); and Bruce German, director of the Foods for Health Institute and professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. Jim Seiber, chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology, will chair the committee this year, taking over from Bob Powell who has chaired the committee since its inception. I am indebted to Professor Powell for his leadership these past five years. The new slate of executive committee members are:

  • James N. Seiber, professor and chair, Department of Food Science and Technology (chair)
  • Andrew L. Waterhouse, professor and chair, Department of Viticulture and Enology (co-chair)
  • Linda Bisson, professor and geneticist; Maynard A. Amerine Endowed Chair in Viticulture and Enology, Department of Viticulture and Enology
  • Carolyn De La Pena, director, Davis Humanities Institute; professor, Department of American Studies
  • Bruce German, director, Foods for Health Institute; professor, Department of Food Science and Technology
  • Lowell (Tu) Jarvis, special assistant to the dean; professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Robert Powell, professor and chair, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Sharon P. Shoemaker, executive director, California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research

I look forward to working closely with the RMI Executive Committee as we move forward with our strategic plan for the next five years.

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Fritz Maytag Honored with “Award of Distinction”

By Charlie Bamforth

award01.jpgFritz Maytag, founding Honorary Board member of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, was honored Oct. 9 at UC Davis with an “Award of Distinction” during the 21st annual College Celebration for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

In 1965 the San Francisco Examiner declared that Haight-Ashbury was the New Bohemia, the Grateful Dead played their first gig, and 28-year-old Fritz Maytag fell in love with Anchor Steam beer, to the extent that he bought the struggling company that made it. He turned that brewery around and became the messiah of the brewing revolution in the United States.

Frederick Louis Maytag III was born in Newton, Iowa. His great grandfather founded the appliance company and his grandfather Elmer established a herd of Holstein cattle that would provide the milk for the famous Blue Cheese, a product that nowadays includes Elton John and Oprah Winfrey amongst its aficionados.

Fritz pursued liberal arts at Stanford (but wife Beverley is a proud Aggie!) and he developed a passion for Chinese and Japanese literature. Soon, though, he found his way to San Francisco and the rest, as they say, is history.

Apart from the brewery on Potrero Hill’s Mariposa Street in San Francisco, where the beers brewed include Anchor Steam, Liberty Ale, Old Foghorn, and 30 years’ worth of eagerly anticipated Christmas ales, Fitz also owns the Anchor Distilling Company (whose products include the single malt rye whiskey Old Potrero and Junipero Gin) and York Creek Vineyards. To all of these, Mr. Maytag brings the same philosophy of quality—and a spirit of helping others. He recognizes that it takes more than just one brewer to satisfy the demand for a beverage of excellence. When he acquired Anchor Steam, the number of brewing companies in the United States could be counted on the fingers of a very few hands. Now there are more than 1,500 breweries in this country. If you took a straw poll of the names responsible for this astonishing surge in interest, you would find most people listing Fritz Maytag as the key player.

As Ken Grossman, president and owner of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company says, “Fritz was a real inspiration to me in my decision to open a brewery. I credit him with revitalizing the industry and leading the path for many brewers to follow with creative brewing, dedication to quality, and his passion for blending art, science, and tradition.”

Fritz Maytag is a great supporter of UC Davis, regularly coming to campus to speak to and inspire students with his passion for beer and his philosophy of excellence. It is inspiring to hear his passionate plea that a beer must taste right on the palate but must also feel right in the heart and mind.

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Clare Hasler is Featured Speaker at Fall Convocation

By Robert Powell


Fall Convocation is UC Davis’ traditional kickoff for the new school year. This year the event drew a record crowd of 1,600 people to the Robert and Magrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Nearly 600 more watched online. Outstanding campus citizens are typically invited to speak at Fall Convocation about issues of great interest to the community. This year, Clare Hasler, RMI executive director, was the featured speaker along with Linda P. Katehi, who became the sixth chancellor of UC Davis in August. Academic Senate chair Robert Powell provided the university welcome and Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law, served as master of ceremonies. This year’s theme was “UC Davis’ Sustainable—and Transformative—Second Century.”

During her remarks, Hasler celebrated the history of excellence which exemplifies UC Davis and highlighted its transformative growth and renewal. She highlighted as an example the new August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory and the Teaching and Research Winery currently under construction at the RMI which will meet the very highest environmental standards. The building is expected to achieve “LEED Platinum” certification—the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and will be the first such facility of its kind in the world, complete with environment-friendly features such as solar power, carbon dioxide capture, and rainwater capture and re-use.

Hasler also talked about the national debate on universal healthcare, emphasizing the simple truth that “… diet and lifestyle choices can prevent a large percentage of the chronic disease that we face today and that is crippling our healthcare system.”

Like Chancellor Katehi, Hasler agreed that the new academic year will be “full of life-stretching challenges and changes.” And so she advised everyone to remember this:

“Your dreams will transform you, and your ability to create a sustainable future will transform all those around you.”

To watch the speeches live or to read the transcripts, click on the following links

Linda Katehi

Clare Hasler

Robert Powell

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RMI Center for Wine Economics Hosts Inaugural Seminar

By Julian Alston


On August 31, 2009, the RMI Center for Wine Economics hosted a seminar presentation by Professor Jill McCluskey of Washington State University. McCluskey presented a paper on “The Economics of Nested Names: Name Specificity, Reputations, and Price Premia.” The paper is an econometric study of the determination of price premia associated with reputation for experience goods such as wine. The empirical application is the California wine industry. The seminar presentation was followed by a reception at the RMI.

The center is taking a leadership role in two other significant wine economics events that are being developed for the first half of 2010. The first is, “The World’s Wine Markets in 2030,” February 7–9, Adelaide, Australia. The Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society is holding its annual conference February 10–12, 2010, in Adelaide, South Australia, located in the heart of Australia’s premier wine region. Julian Alston of UC Davis and Kym Anderson of the University of Adelaide are co-organizing a pre-conference workshop on “The World’s Wine Markets by 2030,” February 7–9, 2010. Details on registration for the Adelaide conference and workshop can be found on the AARES conference web site .


The Center will also host the “American Association of Wine Economists,” fourth annual conference, UC Davis, June 25–28, 2010. The American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) is the leading professional association for wine economists in the world and publishes the Journal of Wine Economics. Previous AAWE conferences were held in Trier, Germany in 2007; in Portland, Oregon in 2008; and in Reims, France, in 2009.

The 2010 conference will showcase the California wine industry and UC Davis, while meeting the broader objectives of the AAWE. We are developing a program for the conference with this opportunity in mind. The organizing committee for the AAWE 2010 conference is chaired by Julian Alston, and includes representatives from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, the Department of Viticulture and Enology, and the UC Agricultural Issues Center. The AAWE conferences have attracted an increasing number of economists and others interested in wine economics from all around the world. The conferences typically entail a large number of papers and presentations on a broad range of topics related to wine economics, and attract the interest of the media and industry participants as well as the members of the association. We expect to attract some 150–200 delegates to the 2010 conference. The emphasis of the conference will be on wine economics, but the program will involve non-economists and will be designed with a view to a mixed group of participants including students, faculty, and representatives of government and the industry.

UC Davis Olive Center Hosts Short Courses for the Industry

By Nicole Sturzenberger


Expanding its educational offerings to the California olive oil industry, the UC Davis Olive Center hosted two short courses this fall focused on the sensory evaluation of olive oil and olive oil processing.

“Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil,” hosted in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre at the RMI in September, provided an opportunity for participants to either develop new tasting skills or hone their existing knowledge. Attendees were able to taste a total of 57 oils from around the world including Italy, Australia, Spain, and California. The course was lead by UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Paul Vossen, one of the foremost experts in the state's olive oil industry. The course also featured lectures by consultant Alexandra Devarenne, Dr. Peter Panagotacos, and UC Davis food science professor Jean-Xavier Guinard. Dr. Guinard presented data from a recent study conducted in his laboratory on consumer perception of olive oil. The study revealed that consumers can be divided into different categories in terms of the style of oil they prefer. These were preliminary results which will lead to future research. The course attracted more than 50 people from around the country, including oil producers, buyers, academics, consultants, and media.

olive02.jpgIn October the Olive Center also offered a “Master Miller’s Short Course” at the stunning Jacuzzi Winery in Sonoma County, home of The Olive Press. This was the first time that the course had been offered by UC Davis in 10 years. The course was taught by Leandro Ravetti, senior horticulturalist for Boundary Bend, Australia's largest olive oil producer. Ravetti led 40 participants through the process of operating and maintaining olive milling equipment. The class included an in-depth discussion of milling processes followed by practical experience in the Olive Press’ processing facility. On the first two days, olives were milled using two different techniques so that both the oils’ sensory qualities and production efficiency could be analyzed by the class. Participants ranged from active millers to those who were potentially interested in entering the business.

The Olive Center will expand its educational offerings next year and will release a full calendar of 2010 courses in the near future. Please visit for more information.

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“Leadership California” Event Features Women Leaders

By Clare M. Hasler


Left Photo:  From Left:  Clare M. Hasler, Claire Pomeroy, Judy Kjelstrom

Right Photo:  From Left:  Debbie Manning (California State Senate), Judy Kjelstrom and Chancellor Linda Katehi

The UC Davis Biotechnology Program and the RMI partnered to host a very a special event, “Women Leading in the Academic World: Sharing Our Passion” on the UC Davis campus in September. This educational program was organized for current participants, alumnae, and guests of Leadership California ( to showcase UC Davis research, facilities, and female leaders. Leadership California is a network of over 1,000 accomplished female leaders dedicated to advancing the leadership role of women in California. This growing, diverse network comes from Leadership California’s unique California Issues and Trends Program (CIT), which graduates 60 women each year with new understanding of the complex global, national, and state issues facing California.

The morning program was hosted at the UC Davis Genome Center by Judith Kjelstrom, director of the UC Davis Biotechnology Program and co-chair of the Sacramento Regional Council of Leadership California. The afternoon program, hosted at the RMI, was organized by Clare M. Hasler, RMI executive director and Leadership California class of 2009. Chancellor Linda P. Katehi was the luncheon speaker followed by presentations by Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor, Human Health Sciences, and dean, UC Davis School of Medicine; and Clare Hasler, who discussed Wine and Women’s Health. The day concluded with a wine reception featuring regional wineries and Greek music performed by Mr. Lou Skoby.

For the program agenda, please click here.

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Food Safety May be Easier to Learn When Taught as a Music Parody according to UC Davis Professor Carl Winter

By Journal of Food Science Education


Chicago – Musical parodies of contemporary songs can be effective in educating people about safe food handling, according to an article in the Journal of Food Science Education, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Music has frequently been used as an educational tool to improve recall of text and factual information. “Food safety issues could be addressed using music as a vehicle to convey complicated and often controversial information,” writes lead researcher Carl Winter of the University of California, Davis.

It has been estimated that 76 million cases of food borne illness occur each year in the United States from microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. Many of these illnesses could be preventable through safe handling and preparation of food items at the retail, restaurant and home settings.

Audiences receiving the music-enriched food safety curricula included school foodservice supervisors, culinary arts students, consumer sciences teachers and youths aged 8 to 12 years in three states. Songs used for the curricula included “Eat It,” a parody of “Beat It;” “Who Left the Food Out,” a parody of “Who Let the Dogs Out,” and “You’d Better Wash Your Hands,” which parodied “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

“Among school foodservice supervisors and culinary arts students, most were able to recall the main points of each song,” writes Winter. “Family and consumer sciences teachers were enthusiastic about the use of music but also identified potential barriers due to the lack of appropriate audiovisual equipment or time constraints.”

Youths who received the music-enriched curricula showed significant increases between pre- and post-tests on safe food handling behaviors and most were able to quote lines or phrases from the songs.

“The use of music in food safety education has been demonstrated to supplement traditional educational approaches very well by introducing variety as well as sensory stimulation and humor,” Winter writes.

To read the research paper, visit

To sample Carl Winter’s food safety song parodies:

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Grant Funds a Project to Enhance Flavor and Quality of Fruits and Vegetables

By Diane Barrett


UC Davis postharvest pomologist and specialist Beth Mitcham has been awarded a three-year $5,869,726 grant from USDA-CSREES for a project entitled “Increasing Consumption of Specialty Crops by Enhancing their Quality and Safety.” More than 25 stakeholders from the produce industry pledged a major portion of the grant that was required in one-to-one matching funds for the grant, a collaboration between UC Davis and the University of Florida. The project is co-directed by Beth Mitcham and Jeff Brecht (University of Florida) and involves nearly 30 faculty members between the two institutions. Three faculty members from the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology are involved in this project: Christine Bruhn, Diane Barrett, and Linda Harris. The project has the following objectives:

  1. Determine how produce flavor as affected by harvest and postharvest practices influences consumer behavior and attitudes regarding consumption of specialty crops.
  2. Determine the best rapid methods to monitor harvest maturity and assess quality changes that either directly or indirectly measure or predict eating quality based on key characteristics identified by the above consumer preference research.
  3. Develop and test improved supply chain capabilities to deliver specialty crops with enhanced eating quality characteristics based on consumer sensory preferences.
  4. Determine the changes in food safety risk from handling more mature or riper produce related to increased transfer potential, multiplication and/or survival of pathogens.
  5. Integrate the research into commercial operations and educate commercial produce handlers and produce consumers regarding produce handling practices, maturity, ripeness and quality.
  6. Conduct formative and summative evaluations of the project activities and impacts during the course of the project to determine if changes in handling practices and buying behavior occur, identifying needed corrective actions as required.

2009 Centennial Blend Olive Oil is a Big Success

By Kiley Athanasiou

oliveoil01.jpgThe UC Davis Olive Center released the 2009 Centennial Blend of extra virgin olive oil in October to a crowd of anxious aficionados. Faculty, staff, and students lined the halls of the Memorial Union to get a first taste of this outstanding new oil which by all accounts is a resounding success! This is the second year that the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science’s award winning olive oil program has offered this special blend, proudly commemorating the 100-year partnership between UC Davis and California’s olive growers and processors. The UC Davis Centennial Blend is a well balanced blend of UC Davis olive oil with premium olive oil donated by nine different California olive oil producers, including Spanish, Greek, and Italian varietals. This flavorful blend contains a bouquet of green apple with aromatic grassy flavors and a hint of banana and ripe olives.

Proceeds from olive oil sales benefits the UC Davis Olive Center, thus aiding future research, outreach, and education efforts, as well as enhancing the growth of the California olive industry. The UC Davis Olive Center would like to recognize all of the producers who generously donated olive oil to help support our mission of research, education, and outreach. 

California Olive Ranch
Copper Hill
Corto Olive

Katz and Company
The Olive Oil Source


The Centennial Blend Olive Oil is sold in 250 ml bottles and is for sale at the UC Davis bookstore for $12/bottle or $144/case. You can also purchase it online at UC Davis olive oil makes a great gift for the upcoming holidays!

Kiley Athanasiou Joins Olive Center staff

By Dan Flynn


The UC Davis Olive Center is pleased to welcome Kiley Athanasiou, who serves as assistant director with Nicole Sturzenberger. Athanasiou comes to UC Davis with 15 years of business experience in marketing and public relations. She has an MBA in international business from the Thunderbird School for Global Management in Glendale Arizona. Most recently, Athanasiou developed and managed outreach programs at Rice University in Houston, Texas. While on sabbatical in Greece in 2006, the Athanasiou family purchased an abandoned olive grove. Kiley Athanasiou now oversees the care and harvest of their family's olives and the pressing of their olive oil. She is doing her best to ensure that as Greek-Americans, her family is consuming more than their fair share of olive oil. Athanasiou is very excited to be in Northern California and to have the opportunity to contribute to the Olive Center. She recently organized tours of olive processing companies for governmental, culinary, and media attendees. Her husband, Kyriacos Athanasiou, is a professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis. They have two teenage sons, Aristos and Thasos.

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Contributors to "RMI E-newsletter"

  • Julian Alston, professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics, (530) 752-3283,
  • Kiley Athanasiou, assistant director, Robert Mondavi Institute – Olive Oil Center, UC Davis, (530) 752-5233,
  • Charlie Bamforth, professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis, (530) 752-9476,
  • Dianne Barrett, CE specialist, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis, (530) 752-2585, dmbarrett@
  • Ann Filmer, director of communications, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-6788,
  • Dan Flynn, executive director, Robert Mondavi Institute – Olive Oil Center, UC Davis, (530) 752-5170,
  • Clare M. Hasler, executive director, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, UC Davis, (530) 754-6349,
  • Julianne Nola, senior project manager, Architects and Engineers, (530) 757-3107,
  • Robert Powell, professor and chair, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, UC Davis, (530) 752-8779,
  • Nicole Sturzenberger, assistant director, UC Davis Olive Center, (530) 754-9301,