A Winemaker's Perspective on Genetic Diversity

Dry grapevines
Group shot
From left: Elisabeth Forrestel, National Science Postdoctoral Fellow; Andrew Waterhouse, director, Robert Mondavi Institute; Steve Matthiasson, owner and winemaker, Matthiasson Wines; David Block, professor and chair, Department of Viticulture and Enology. Photo credit: Alana Joldersma.

About the Event:

On many Napa winery shortlists of go-to consultants is Steve Matthiasson, owner of Matthiasson Wines (and a six-time James Beard Award nominee) whose two decades in vineyards have made his counsel sought-after among winemakers faced by a variety of challenges. (His clients include Araujo, Spottswoode Winery, and David Arthur Vineyards.) Wrote the San Francisco Chronicle, "[Steve has the] ability to mesh modern research science with a farmer’s intuition," which explains a cornerstone of his success. The wine industry faces numerous challenges, from hotter temperatures to invasive pests, and adapting to them requires a unique combination of skills and experience. Cue Matthiasson. "[His] science does not blind his holistic perception of what the plant is normally doing," says Warren Winiarski, founder of Stags' Leap Winery, and one of Steve’s earliest clients.

On Tuesday, May 14 Steve joined Elisabeth Forrestel, a National Science Postdoctoral Fellow in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, at the second Forum: Talks on Food and Wine Sciences event. Forrestel studies the responses of wild and cultivated grapevines to drought, heat stress, and climate change, and is a co-founder of Botany of a Feast, a series of lectures and events that communicate the importance of preserving and protecting plant biodiversity for the future of agriculture. In the fall, Forrestel will start as an assistant professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology.

"A Winemaker’s Perspective on Genetic Diversity" offered the two unique perspectives on genetic diversity and its key role in the continued adaptation of winemaking in a world of adversity. Watch the lecture and see photos from the event below.