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E-news #10: Spring 2007

Executive Director Message

By Clare M. Hasler


As I write this, I am still feeling the excitement of my first bona fide hard-hat tour of the RMI academic building - and all I can say is WOW! It is really going to be an incredible facility. If you have not driven by the construction site lately, I encourage you to do so.

Although the move-in date is 14 months away, another milestone for the academic building will be celebrated on the afternoon of June 11 - the "topping out." For those unfamiliar with this tradition celebrated by iron workers, a topping out heralds the placement of the final structural beam, which has been signed by workers, donors, and special guests. The topping out offers the opportunity to steward key donors and volunteers whose contributions have been invaluable.

June 11 is also notable as the RMI will host the Spring 2007 Lectureship in the morning. I invite you all to attend and hear from two thought leaders about sustainability in the brewing, food, and wine industries.

Finally, within the next couple of weeks, the RMI Web site will have a whole new look. I think you'll like it, so stay tuned.

I hope to see you at the lectureship in June.

Clare Signature



RMI Construction Update

By Allen Lowry, UC Davis Architects and Engineers

Hard-hat Tour

The construction of the RMI academic building is approximately 50% complete. The project is on budget and on schedule. Three buildings totaling 131,000 gross square feet will house and facilitate collaboration between two departments, Viticulture and Enology, and Food Science and Technology, with the assistance of the Robert Mondavi Institute.

The three structures are built of concrete frames, with shear walls for seismic strength (instead of rigid moment joints). All structural work is complete now, with the exception of the South Lab's third-floor roof, and the steel canopy that will join the three buildings together visually. Construction is slightly ahead of schedule, owing to favorable weather and aggressive construction management. The occupancy date is June 1, 2008.

Exterior finishes will be glass curtain walls (normal glass, non-reflective), two-tone plaster (yellow and ochre), and "white" metal, including the corrugated steel roof. Most spaces face the courtyard, with focused views of mature orange, olive, and almond trees, as well as the Vaca Mountain range to the west. Numerous shaded spaces in the courtyard will provide comfortable assembly areas for evening events.


RMI Announces Spring 2007 Lectureship

By Patricia Glass


Ted Hall

The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science is proud to announce the Spring 2007 Lectureship. Join us on the morning of Monday, June 11, 2007 to hear visionary presentations on agricultural sustainability by Ken Grossman, president of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Ted Hall, general partner of Long Meadow Ranch and former chairman of the Robert Mondavi Corporation. Please refer to the flyer here for detailed information. We look forward to sharing this hot topic with you.

Harold McGee, Best-Selling Author, Visits Campus

By Sue Ebeler, Professor, Viticulture and Enology

From left: Harold McGee joins graduate student Bradley Olson and Food Science & Technology professor Linda Harris at a wine reception following his standing-room-only seminar.

Dr. Harold McGee, author of the best-selling book, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, presented an excellent and thought-provoking seminar titled "Playing with Food: Three Centuries of Science in the Kitchen" at UC Davis on February 28. The overflow crowd learned how science and cooking have gone hand-in-hand for centuries. New cooking techniques are pushing the limits of our scientific understanding of the physical and chemical changes that occur during cooking while at the same time scientists are striving to understand the underlying principles behind existing and new techniques that chefs introduce into their kitchens.

Currently, the boundaries between scientists and chefs are merging even more with a new group of chefs who are using a sophisticated knowledge of science to develop unique and sometimes surprising foods for their restaurants. For example, chefs are using distillation technology to develop flavor essences that can be added to foods and food ingredients to give intense, and sometimes surprising or unique flavor qualities to the food. In other cases the chefs are using new ingredients combined with advanced technology to develop gels and uniquely textured food products, e.g., foods reminiscent of the texture of caviar but with citrus or fruity flavors. The novel culinary science skills that these chefs are developing present new ways of looking at the food and wine experience.

Dr. McGee closed by indicating that the future will be an exciting time and that there are many scientific questions remaining to be answered about existing as well as future foods and cooking processes.

McGee's visit was co-sponsored by the Departments of Viticulture and Enology and Food Science and Technology and the Robert Mondavi Institute. While on campus he visited with faculty, had tours of the V&E and FS&T facilities, and participated in a reception that was well-attended by many students, faculty, and staff.

Harold McGee started out studying physics and astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, and then English literature at Yale University. In 1984 he published On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Twenty years later, the revised and enlarged edition of On Food and Cooking went through five reprintings in six months, and was named best food reference of 2004 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation. In 2005, Bon Appétit magazine named McGee "food writer of the year."

Along the way, McGee published The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore (1990), and wrote articles and reviews for many publications, including Nature, Physics Today, and The World Book Encyclopedia. Last December he started a monthly column on food science for the New York Times. He has appeared on the National Geographic Channel and CNN, and on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," "Fresh Air," and "Science Friday." His Web site is:

Culinary Institute Names UC Davis Faculty Wine 'Icons'

By Patricia Bailey, UC Davis News Service

Robert and Margrit Mondavi

Two renowned faculty members from the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, the late Maynard Amerine and the late Harold Olmo, were named "Icons" in the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. The honors recognize the two trailblazers' contributions to the establishment and growth of the California wine industry, which now produces some of the world's finest wines. The awards were presented during a March 9 gala event at the Institute's campus in St. Helena. The honorees were determined by ballots sent to 70 top American wine journalists.

The Institute also designated legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi as a wine "Pioneer" and six winemakers as "Founders" in the Institute's new Vintners Hall of Fame. These founders are Andre Tchelistcheff, Georges de Latour, Charles Krug, Agoston Haraszthy, Gustave Niebaum and Brother Timothy.

"Maynard Amerine and Harold Olmo truly were giants in the world of grapes and wine," said Andrew Waterhouse, chair of the viticulture and enology department at UC Davis. "Their research and teaching promoted the planting of high-quality wine grapes suitable for the different viticultural areas in California in order to elevate wine quality when it was most needed. We are so pleased that the Culinary Institute of America and the nation's wine journalists have recognized their landmark achievements."


Maynard Amerine's research on the technical aspects of grape growing and winemaking invigorated the California wine industry as it recovered from Prohibition, and is considered by many to be the cornerstone for the industry's success in the world wine community. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 1935. With a colleague, Amerine developed the system of classifying wine-growing regions by measuring heat summation. He also worked closely with California's wine industry to restore and advance the technical knowledge lost during Prohibition. Virtually every wine-producing nation recognized Amerine's achievements with numerous literary awards, decorations and honors. In addition to his research, Amerine trained hundreds of students who went on to become winemakers and grape growers. He retired from UC Davis in 1974, but remained active as a writer and recognized expert on wine. He died in 1998 at the age of 86.

Olmo was a world-renowned grape geneticist, who developed some 30 grape varieties and improved or authenticated many more. During his career, he traveled the world in search of rare or endangered grapevines, bringing cuttings back to UC Davis to be studied and propagated. The varieties he developed include the Perlette, his first table grape, as well as the Ruby Cabernet, Emerald Riesling, Centurion, Carnelian Symphony, Rubired, Carmine and Flora wine grapes. Colleagues note that his work on the Chardonnay grape was responsible for developing it from an insignificant variety into California's most important wine grape variety, now grown on nearly 100,000 acres throughout the state.


Olmo was responsible for greatly expanding California's agricultural industry. His many awards include the Laureate and Medal for Outstanding Contributions to World Viticulture from the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin; the Papal Medal, Benemerenti, from the Catholic Church; and the Rockefeller Spirit of Service Award. He was a Guggenheim fellow, Fulbright scholar and a consultant to the United Nations for more than 20 years. He retired from UC Davis in 1977 and died in July 2006 at the age of 96.

At 93 years of age, Robert Mondavi remains the global emissary of American food and wine. Mondavi helped transform the California wine industry from a cottage industry of small wineries to an international center of fine wine production, thus changing the view of American wines around the world. Robert Mondavi established the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966. Robert pioneered many fine winemaking techniques in California, including cold fermentation, stainless steel tanks and the use of French oak barrels. A sales and marketing leader, he was responsible for popularizing dry-fermented oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc as Fumé Blanc - a move now acknowledged as the catalyst for the recognition of this grape variety in America. Mondavi also initiated blind tastings in the Napa Valley, allowing consumers and the trade to evaluate wine quality.

Mondavi is a major benefactor of cultural and educational institutions. In 1996, Robert acquired the land for Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, a world-class cultural center celebrating the bounty of the American table, which opened in November 2001 in Napa. Also in late 2001, Robert and his wife, Margrit Mondavi, made a $35 million personal gift to UC Davis to establish the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and to name the campus' new Center for Performing Arts. The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts opened in October 2002.

UC Davis Hosts Wine-Tasting of Historical Cabernet Sauvignon

By Clare M. Hasler


I was fortunate to be among the more than 100 wine lovers who attended a tasting of 1980 California Cabernet Sauvignon wines hosted by the Department of Viticulture and Enology on March 22 at UC Davis. The 24 wines from the Napa, Sonoma, Alexander Valley, Central Coast and Sierra Foothill appellations were recently discovered in the wine cellar in Wickson Hall and had been stored under identical conditions for over 20 years.

Internationally known wine expert and merchant Darrell Corti led the tasting. Winemakers who were in attendance also shared their thoughts on the winemaking process during the 1980s. As the crafting of wine has changed over the past 20 years, this was an historic occasion to get a quality perspective on winemaking at that time, as well as the ageability of these cabernets. The discovery also offered a unique opportunity to share a piece of California history with alumni, other California winemakers, the press, and the wine-loving public. The wines originated from the department's 75th anniversary and later traveled with then President Reagan to China, where they were served at a state dinner the Reagan's hosted during their visit abroad.

Proceeds from the tasting will provide support for viticulture and enology's students' summer trip to South America for a two-week tour of the winemaking regions of Argentina and Chile.

Congressman Mike Thompson Presents the Second Walt Klenz Lecture

From the Department of Viticulture and Enology


The Department of Viticulture and Enology together with Foster's Wine Estates (formerly Beringer Blass Wine Estates) hosted Congressman Mike Thompson as the second Walt Klenz Lecturer on Wine Business on April 12, 2007. The lecture took place at the Buehler Alumni Center, with a reception immediately after the seminar.

Thompson represents California's 1st Congressional District that includes all of Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties and portions of Yolo and Sonoma counties; prime grape-growing and winemaking areas of California. Thompson is co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Wine Caucus which is comprised of 250 U.S. Senators and House members from all 50 states. The caucus strives to educate and engage senators in legislative and regulatory matters pertaining to wine issues and highlights the many benefits of a strong wine industry.

During Congressman Thompson's presentation titled "The Politics of Climate Change Implications for Agriculture and the Wine Industry," he discussed his strong Napa Valley roots, having grown up in St. Helena. He is currently a small vineyard owner and was previously the maintenance supervisor for the Beringer Winery. Thompson stated that he was "very proud to be associated with UC Davis," and emphasized that the students are "our future for everything we work on or for and strive to achieve."

The Walt Klenz Lecture Series was created and sponsored by Foster's Wine Estates through the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis in honor of their former CEO, Walt Klenz, in recognition of his many contributions to the wine industry. Lectures focus on the business of wine and are aimed at students with the goal of giving them a glimpse of the many facets of the wine industry, based on the speaker's expertise.

UC Davis Debuts 2007 Olive Oil

By Katie Hetrick, Communications Manager, Operations & Maintenance Department, Buildings & Grounds Division

Left to right: Members of Buildings & Grounds Department: David Teter, Information Analyst; Henry Luc, Landscape Architect Intern; Dan Flynn, Olive Oil Program Manager; Katie Stapko, Administrative Assistant; Katie Hetrick, Communications Manager; Sal Genito, Director; Steve Nixon, Grounds Superintendent; Cary Avery, Landscape Superintendent; Rocki Elken, Interim Administrative Assistant (Photo by David Phillips)

The UC Davis Division of Buildings and Grounds held its second annual Olive Oil Launch on March 14 at the UC Davis Silo Café and Pub to debut the 2007 vintages. Since last year's inaugural event, UC Davis olive oil has received accolades, with all three varieties winning gold medals at the Los Angeles County Fair-the largest olive oil competition in the country. Last year's 'Gunrock' variety also captured a "Best of Class" award.

UC Davis Buildings and Grounds Division director Sal Genito, program director Dan Flynn, and communications manager Katie Hetrick orchestrated the event, sponsored by University Catering, which gave guests the opportunity to taste this year's olive oils and debut the new wine vinegar, as well as sample a variety of beer, wine and tasty appetizers. Summer sausage from the UC Davis Meat Lab, vegetables from the Student Farm, plants from the campus arboretum "All-Star" line, and flowers from environmental horticulture were also included to showcase a variety of campus-related offerings.

The event offered UC Davis affiliates an opportunity to purchase bottles of olive oil and vinegar at a discount one day before the products went on sale to the public. The cost is $12 per 250 ml bottle for both 'The Silo' and 'Gunrock' varieties. The popular 'Wolfskill' olive oil as well as new 'Wickson' wine vinegar have already sold out, though 'Wolfskill' can still be obtained as part of the "Connoisseur Gift Set" sold at the campus bookstore.

To buy yours, visit the UC Davis Bookstore Web site at: and search "olive oil."

Guinard Accepts Position in International Programs

From Dateline (February 9, 2007 edition)


Jean-Xavier Guinard has accepted the position of Associate Vice Provost for International Programs. A professor of sensory science in the Department of Food Science and Technology, Guinard began his new job February 1. He will provide leadership in the coordination of all aspects of the campus's existing and expanding international initiatives. Guinard will work with deans, directors, chairs, colleges, divisions, and departments on developing curricular offerings, education programs, research initiatives, outreach, and international engagements.



Michael Parrella Receives Emma Lausten Horticulture Award


For extensive contributions to floriculture integrated pest management, entomologist Michael Parrella received the Emma Lausten Horticulture Award from Rutgers University. Associate dean for agricultural sciences, Parrella researches integrated pest management strategies on ornamental plants, with an emphasis on biological pest control. His work is aimed at reducing pesticide usage through safe and effective alternatives, which significantly helps growers of horticultural crops.

Parrella was nominated for the award by the executive director of the Interregional Research Project No. 4 (IR-4), which is headquartered at Rutgers. The IR-4, a federal program established in 1963, seeks safe and effective pest management solutions for food and ornamental crops. Parrella is an alumnus of Cook College, Rutgers. He is currently the Associate Dean of Agricultural Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis and serves on the RMI Executive Committee.

Clare Hasler Receives Outstanding Alumni Award


Clare M. Hasler, RMI Executive Director, received the 2007 Human Nutrition Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Michigan State University in March. Hasler received the award in recognition of her numerous achievements since receiving her Ph.D. from the department in 1990 including her role as the founding Director of the Functional Foods for Health Program at the University of Illinois (1992-2000). In this position, she developed an internationally recognized program bridging academia, industry and the public, attracted over $3 million to stimulate functional foods research, prepared numerous reviews and position papers and made over 300 presentations in 19 countries.

Upcoming Events

Beyond Extra Virgin: Italo-Californian Olive Oil Conference

May 22-23, 2007
Freeborn Hall, UC Davis


A two-day conference will bring together growers, producers, processors, the food service industry, communicators, and educators to discuss the challenges in current practices and the potential for new innovations in producing consistent, high quality olive oils.

Representatives from two regions of the world, old and new Italy and California, will meet to discuss and make recommendations for new standards in branding olive oils. Talks, tastings, displays, posters, and numerous opportunities for networking will be offered in this first in a series of conferences.

The conference is open to the public with a small registration fee to help cover the cost of the venue, meals, and proceedings (general public, $125; students, $25). Registration will be on the CIFAR web site,

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National Viticulture Research Conference

July 18-20, 2007
UC Davis


The first annual National Viticulture Research Conference (NVRC) will be held at UC Davis, July 18-20, in the Studio Theater of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The idea for the conference arose out of a desire to establish a national-level forum focused solely on viticulture research. The purpose of the conference is to provide public and private researchers, postdoctoral research scientists, scientific staff, and students an opportunity to share their technical research with colleagues during an intensive three-day program. It is envisioned that the NVRC will continue annually, with the location rotating among different academic centers of viticulture research.

For additional information, please contact Foundation Plant Services at (530) 752-3590 or by e-mail at More information can be found on the conference Web site:

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Competitive Forces Affecting the Wine and Winegrape Industries: An International Conference on World Wine Markets

August 8-10, 2007
UC Davis

The conference is intended to bring together researchers and industry members to explore forces influencing the future path of the world wine industry, factors influencing consumers' wine consumption and wine choices, and factors affecting the competitiveness of different production regions. Attendees will address these issues within a conference format that will include invited papers, selected papers, and panels of industry members and researchers.

Industry Day: August 10, 2007
One day of the conference will be devoted to industry speakers, mixed industry-academic panels, and industry-oriented invited speakers. Tentatively scheduled presentations include: results from a marketing experiment regarding the effects of wine label characteristics on wine purchases in supermarkets; and comparing marketing chains across wine-producing regions. Other sessions may include but are not limited to the following topics: economics of winegrape production and marketing; sustainable production; organic production; producer cooperatives; agritourism; global climate change; bulk wine markets; and evaluation of industry-relevant government policies.

Conference Sponsors

  • Robert Mondavi Institute Center for Wine Economics and Business, UC Davis
  • IMPACT Center, Washington State University
  • Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, University of California.

For additional information, please e-mail:

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By Author


TASTE³ brings together more than 40 of the most compelling writers, thinkers, chefs, winemakers, journalists, artisans, and executives as speakers and hosts, joining 300 attendees who are every bit as tapped in to wine, food and the arts. TASTE³ will thrill, tantalize, engage, intrigue, provoke, and inspire both its audience and its speakers.

The single-track program is broken into themed sessions filled with hard-hitting, engaging short-format presentations. Sessions are interwoven with breaks for networking opportunities and interactive exploration.

TASTE³ is presented by Robert Mondavi Winery. In the spirit of founder Robert Mondavi's vision, passion, and leadership, TASTE³ aims to push the exploration and marriage of wine, food, and art. For more information, please see

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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,
  • Diane Barrett, Cooperative Extension Specialist, Food Science and Technology Department, (530) 752-4800,
  • Melissa Haworth, Director of Major Gifts, CA&ES Dean's Office, (530) 754-8562,
  • Darcie Bransford, Director of Major Gifts, CA&ES Dean's Office, (530) 752-1602,


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