If I did have the opportunity to relive my college years (but with all of the same friends!), I know exactly what program I would choose. Housed in a contemporary shelter on the outskirts of the UC Davis campus is The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
When we first drove by “the institute” my curiosity meter went off the charts. Conveniently, our hotel was just down the street. So, after I took care of IV (the fourth), I was able to wander over and explore.
Unfortunately, I’d missed the Odors and Emotions study… I’ll bet just one smelling session would be tremendously enlightening…
There was a film playing in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater..but I opted to roam about outdoors….can you believe these things are going on and we have not been invited???
Between the buildings is a garden…but this is not just any garden.
This garden is a wine aroma bed. “This garden was designed to demonstrate the many flavors that can be used as descriptors in wine tasting. From the fig tree to society garlic all of the plants in this bed can be used for the sensory analysis of wine via their fragrant leaves and flowers or the taste and smell of their fruit”
So, they are providing students with an opportunity to experience the actual living source of the scents used in wine tasting terminology…but it doesn’t stop there.
They have their own wine aroma wheel.
The Wine Aroma Wheel was created by a retired professor and sensory scientist from UC Davis. With the wheel she developed a lexicon for describing the aromas one experiences when enjoying wine. “The descriptors are arranged in three tiers with the most general aroma descriptors in the center and the most specific in the outer ring”.
Reading through the wheel I find the descriptors to be so accurate as far as the flavors I’ve experienced while tasting wine. Sometimes it’s not easy to describe what I’m tasting or smelling as precisely as I’d like. Not anymore…I now have a whole new vocabulary for happy hour!
Way too cool for school!
A new section of the facility is the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, which was established to “provide research and operational facilities for on-site energy production, rainwater harvesting, water reuse and carbon sequestration systems for LEED Platinum Winery. The Winery will be self-sustainable in energy and water, and fully solar at peak load with a zero carbon footprint”.
These tanks are ready and waiting for the juice of the vines planted behind them.
It looks as though they have just been planted, and the crop looks promising.
There is also a teaching vineyard where students learn everything about grape vines with an emphasis on heritage grapes which were the foundation for the California Wine Industry.
Throughout the main part of the Davis campus the streets are lined with glorious, gigantic, ancient olive trees.
In the photo below you can see the small grove at the RMI. Davis is a larger campus, so to get from one class to another quickly, most students ride bikes. In the fall, when the olives ripen and drop, the oily fruit on the roads can create quite a hazard.
So, it only made sense to harvest and process these olives.
Here is where the olives are processed. Wouldn’t that be a fabulous project? Your hands would look and smell so great after handling all of those olives.
The shelves in the bookstore are loaded with products made from olives harvested from the campus trees.
Beyond the oils and jars of olives,
there’s body butter
yummy orange scented soap,
and an incredibly emollient lip balm.
Okay, UC Davis seems to offer something for everyone…while my son is studying biology I’ll be off making vino and pressing olives… we could share a little bungalow….
sign us up, we’re ready Aggies!!
I Dream Of says
Oh, let's go back to school. Shall we? I'm ready to hit the grapes, I mean the books! Sign me up! XX
What a fabulous, interesting post!! I know many of the big names in wine, like Paul Hobbs, have gone here. But I had never seen pictures or heard all about these aspects of the program – fascinating!!