Coppola Winery's Asimont Is ASEV President

Enology and viticulture association hopes to engage more industry members

by Jane Firstenfeld
Newly appointed ASEV president is director of grower relations at Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Davis, Calif.—After eight years on the board of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), Lise (pronounced “lease”) Asimont was confirmed as president of the 12-member board. She succeeds Dr. James Kennedy of California State University, Fresno.

Asimont is director of grower relations at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, Calif., overseeing 60 acres of estate vineyards and 123 contract growers in coastal counties, El Dorado County and Lodi, Calif.

A day after ASEV announced her election, Wines & Vines interviewed Asimont while she was out inspecting a vineyard. She spoke about how the venerable organization, formed in 1950, hopes to help alter perceptions and focus more on practical information for industry members, in contrast to its recent concentration on academic research.

Although there was no campaigning involved in the election process, which was virtually predetermined when Asimont was appointed second vice president two years ago, she admitted that it was “nerve wracking” to wait outside the room while the board ratified the results.

“As a baby viticulturist at University of California, Davis, professor (and now fellow board member) Andy Walker raised me to know that there’s no greater thing of importance than to be on the ASEV board. To be president is definitely a bucket-list item,” she said.

Laden with big names from the academic world and the wine industry, the ASEV board is a powerful force, Asimont said. “It’s cohesive and collaborative. Because I’m a farmer working in the industry, I’m working to refocus back on the industry. We want to disseminate our great research information” for practical industry application.

“My mission as president is to convince the industry and extension to participate,” Asimont said. “Come back to us!”

Walker, Asimont’s UC Davis mentor, is ASEV’s technical program director, and he is already working toward the annual meeting next summer in Portland, Ore. (A call for abstracts will be issued soon.)

Asimont expects that the program will include both exciting research results and afternoon programming specifically designed for the industry. “We’ve already got a boatload of material” to work with, she said. “I’m industry-driven. We’ll have 20% research; the other 80% will explain how we use the information.”

Practical experience
Asimont has been at Coppola since 2006; sourcing grapes for the winery’s 1.2 million-case production is a huge task. “Although I’d like to take the credit, I have a killer team,” she acknowledged. With three viticulturists covering North Coast vineyards and another in the Central Coast, “We work closely with all our growers. We prune all the way to harvest.” Asimont’s own hands-on experience allows her to walk into a vineyard “and see all the problems,” she said.

Asimont’s team has been a leader in using the Adams-Harbertson phenolics assay to analyze grapes, must and wine and share the results with growers. She co-authored an article in the October 2010 issue of Wines & Vines about this practice.

The work doesn’t stop after harvest. “Our team is proud of our grower-feedback program. We sit down with each grower individually. We let them taste our goal wine for their grapes: That’s been a real success,” Asimont explained.

“It’s interesting when you explain your intentions for their crop. It becomes so much more obvious,” to all parties, she said. “What it does is create a conversation between the growers and us. It takes away antagonism, and makes it a true partnership. We’d be nowhere without our growers.”


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