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UC-Davis gets grant to expand enology program.

Bill Stephenson, a graduate student studying malting and brewing at the University of California, Davis, considers himself lucky to be at a university renowned for its programs in wine and food technology. But he hadn't expected one of the nation's top programs to have such modest facilities, including a makeshift pilot brewery "abused through the years, broken and not repaired."

Such scant facilities force students to use their imaginations, Stephenson said, because the equipment is either outdated or nonexistent.

"We explain things by saying, 'If this were here, this is what would have happened,"' he said. But "it doesn't really matter to me, about the imaginary (equipment), because this institution is one of the best in the world."

Starting in 2006, the students won't have to imagine as much.

With a S35 million donation from winemaker Robert Mondavi, the university will open a new wine and science institute that includes a pilot winery and food processing plant.

The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Science, to be established with $25 million of the donation, will include the current departments of viticulture, enology and food science and technology. The money will mainly build new classrooms, food-processing and winery-buildings to replace those that are 50 years old.

When he made the donation in September, Mondavi said he wants to "to enhance the quality of life" by showing Americans the connections among food, wine and the arts.

Combining the largest wine program in the world and the university's food science department, the institute will allow closer contact between students and faculty, said Charlie Bamforth, a professor in the food science technology department. This opportunity will strengthen both programs by allowing professors and students to share ideas and research techniques. "Having two departments in the same institute means people are going to have a center of gravity, a focal point of excellence better able to satisfy their needs," Bamforth said.

The biggest difference at the new institute will be the new facilities, said Steve Wolpert, chair of the viticulture and enology department. The pilot winery will enable students to simulate running an actual winery and give them the training needed to take on the increasing responsibilities the industry expects of its work force.

The country's oldest viticulture and enology department, the program started at the University of California, Berkeley in 1880, when studying wine was "pretty avant garde," Wolpert said, and it moved to Davis in 1935.

Chris Dennis-Strathmeyer, an undergraduate in fermentation science, said the new institute will allow students to see their creations appreciated. Dennis-Strathmeyer-who has roots in a small family winery in Vallejo and is leaning rebelliously toward a career in beer-said, "Watching someone enjoying it is the most rewarding part."
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 26, 2001
Words:450
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