Andrew Waterhouse

RMI Director Andrew Waterhouse to Retire

Letter from the Director

Dear RMI Supporter,

As you may have heard, after five years as director, I am leaving the Robert Mondavi Institute at the end of June, one year after my professorship retirement. The Dean’s Office is searching for the next director, ideally a professor with a passion for public outreach, and hopes to appoint my replacement by July 1.

I am proud of the programs we have produced since I took on the director role, especially while we navigated a global pandemic. Through programs and public outreach, the Institute highlighted the fabulous research and teaching, with a particular focus on wine and food, for which UC Davis is justifiably known.

In collaboration with the UC Davis Library, we launched the Savor series of lectures and discussions, pairing UC Davis faculty with outside speakers to discuss issues ranging from reducing food waste, climate change, the impacts of wildfire smoke on wine grapes, pandemic food supply chain challenges and, most recently, how highly skilled Mexican American and Chicanx vineyard workers contribute to Napa Valley’s wine quality. These presentations addressed food policies and provided educational opportunities unique to UC Davis. The feedback from our audience tells us that they have found these programs engaging and, in some cases, pushed them to think of critical issues that may have been new to them.

The Director of the Honey and Pollination Center, Amina Harris, urged us to organize a series of tasting events, which became our popular Sips and Bites program. Although the pandemic forced us to go virtual with our very first program, we presented multiple tasting events, starting with wine produced by the UC Davis graduate winemakers at Birdhorse Winery and moving on to beer, bread, tea, UC Davis dining services, and a wine and chocolate pairing. One exceptional program, a Taste of Ohlone culture, focused on Native American and Indigenous food. 

We also continued other series, some of which are highlighted here. The RMI Forum: Talks on Food and Wine Science welcomed coffee lovers worldwide to learn about the UC Davis Coffee Center and its impacts on the coffee industry. The Walt Klenz Wine Business speaker series attracted hundreds of attendees to Martha Stoumen’s talk on natural wine. We also initiated a collaboration with Notre Dame University on a lecture series focused on the basics of alcoholic beverages, and our Savor program has included a Smithsonian Institute scholar. Lastly, nothing compared to the joy of seeing our friends and colleagues at the reprisal of the in-person TASTE event, our annual food and wine-tasting fundraiser that was interrupted by the pandemic.

The success of our programs is not only due to the expertise of the presenters from UC Davis and elsewhere but also to the efforts of our dedicated staff. Our resourceful event manager, Babette Orendain, juggles the details of each event, from the first germ of an idea to turning out the lights at the end of the night. Jaime Wilson, and her predecessor Evan White, effectively expanded and communicated to our audiences. Beautiful photographs and videos provided by Jael Mackendorf and their predecessor Hector Amezcua, enhanced our communications to tell a richer story. Kendal Koorenny provided the student’s perspective in her articles on many of our programs.

We could not function without the assistance and collaboration of the Department of Viticulture and Enology, the Department of Food Science and Technology, the Olive Center, the Honey and Pollination Center, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, CAAA, ATS, the Mondavi Center, the Arboretum and Public Garden, and many others who have supported our efforts. I am grateful for the advice and support from our Executive Committee, particularly the external members Darrell Corti, Harold McGee and Madeline Puckette, for their creative ideas and dedication to our mission. 

I would also like to recognize our Robert Mondavi Institute Friends, particularly the dedicated support of Mary Horton, Robert and Barbara Leidigh, and the generosity of Wayne and Jacqui Bartholomew. The Friends' support ensures we can expand and improve our program offerings. 

The Institute has also benefited for more than a decade from the efforts of Amina Harris. The Honey and Pollination Center has a long history of success with its programs on honey and mead, including organizing research that led to the creation of the Honey Aroma Wheel. Amina will also retire in June, and we are searching for a new director to fill her shoes.

I have greatly enjoyed my interactions with our program presenters and event attendees, and I hope you have enjoyed and learned from our programs as much as I have. The next director of the Institute will continue to build on existing strengths and take the Institute in interesting new directions.

With immense gratitude for all who have aided me in my job as director and supported the Institute’s work, I raise a glass to you. Cheers!

Warmest Regards,

Andrew Waterhouse
Director, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science
Professor Emeritus, Department of Viticulture and Enology

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