January 2023: Letter from the Director

2023 started with extreme weather in Northern California with prolonged flooding, power outages, and many fallen trees on campus and in surrounding communities. We welcome the much-needed rain but are also grateful for sunny skies this week as we recover.

Learning from Goats

I grew up in Los Angeles, so my childhood was not marked by many experiences surrounding agriculture. Many students who attend UC Davis come from similar backgrounds, so UC Davis is where students like me are exposed to the plethora of sciences and niches under the umbrella of agriculture. Personally, my passion for wine and grapes was found when I attended UC Davis, something I had never been exposed to previously. Meanwhile, some find their passion for goats, or what Ben Rupchis calls the “gateway livestock,” for students foraying into agriculture.

The Winemaker’s Toolkit

Every winemaker has a toolkit. Before, during, and after fermentation, the winemaker can use their tools to craft the wine they want to create, a wine that fits their style, the consumer’s desires, or the vineyard/region. Part of this toolkit is wine additions. These additions are dictated by the laws of the local wine region and, should the wine be exported, the wines of the importing country.

October 2022: Letter from the Director

Last Saturday, our TASTE food and wine-tasting fundraiser welcomed more than 300 people to a beautiful evening in the Good Life Garden. It featured some of the best local and regional wineries, breweries, restaurants, and UC Davis centers and initiatives. Our sold-out event raised $9,000 for the UC Davis Student Farm! We are proud to support their work and encourage you to visit their website to learn more and donate directly.

New Sensory Immersive Room at UC Davis Simulates Real-life Environments for Product Testing

From UC Davis News and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

What makes a cup of coffee or an energy bar enjoyable is usually more than just the taste. The surrounding environment may also influence the experience.

With that in mind, the Department of Food Science and Technology at University of California, Davis has constructed a new multi-sensory immersive room that can be used for product development, innovation and research.

Vote With Your Wine Glass

When a consumer walks down the grocery store wine aisle, their eyes are simultaneously bombarded with a multitude of colors and pictures on labels, with each label representing one of the many brands trying to reach the consumer. Competition abounds, so brands attempt to grab consumers’ attention quickly. There is one wine company that stands out. It’s not because of fancy embossed labels or contorted glass bottles; rather, O’Neill Vintners and Distillers stands out because of its commitment to sustainability.

September 2022: Letter from the Director

The UC Davis campus is buzzing with energy with the return of students and the start of the fall quarter. We saw unprecedented rainfall this week, which brought a feeling of a fresh new beginning and a change of season.

Fall also ushers in a busy season of educational and entertaining events with more in-person opportunities to attend. We will also have live broadcast virtual options for most experiences if you join from out of the area.

August 2022: Letter from the Director

Even with the high temperatures this week, you can feel fall approaching. The grape harvest has started in the teaching vineyard at the Robert Mondavi Institute, and the campus is gearing up for the return of students next month.

Agave: The New Drought-Tolerant California Crop?

From UC Davis News and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Agriculture in California faces an uncertain future as drought, wildfires and other climate extremes become more commonplace in the West. But a fledgling industry focused on growing and distilling agave plants, which are used to produce tequila and mezcal in Mexico, could be California’s answer to fallowed fields and a lack of water.

Shop Small Farms

Shopping at the Davis Farmers Market is a classic Saturday morning activity for Davis locals and visitors alike. Showcasing freshly picked, vibrant fruits and vegetables, local farmers line up stalls to market their produce to the community and connect with consumers. These farmers come from small farms, the topic of the recent Savor lecture, hosted by the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine, titled “Sustaining Small Farms.”

June 2022: Letter from the Director

You may have heard via the Viticulture and Enology newsletter that I will retire as a professor at the end of this month. Attending the commencement ceremonies was especially poignant as I walked across the stage with my last Ph.D. student and Master’s student. I enjoyed working with enology students the most, helping them find their way, and making contacts for internships and full-time positions that helped advance their career and personal goals.