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Winemaking Facility Opens at UC Davis

$3 million gift will fund new teaching winery; complex built entirely with private donations

by Paul Franson
UC Davis winery
Margrit Mondavi, Jerry Lohr, Andrew Waterhouse and U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson celebrate the winery opening Friday at UC Davis.
Davis, Calif.—The University of California, Davis, officially opened the doors Friday to the world’s most environmentally sophisticated facility for making, researching and teaching wine, brewing beer and processing foods.

Construction of the building was actually completed in July, and winegrape crushing and beer brewing began there in September.

Hundreds of supporters, faculty members, friends, students and alumni heard campus leaders and supporters describe the new facility’s importance to the university and industry. Most were graciously concise as the audience braved uncharacteristic cold in unheated tents.

The highlight of the day’s announcements, however, was that Jess Jackson and Barbara R. Banke of Jackson Family Wines and Kendall-Jackson are donating $3 million for a separate new facility to develop sustainable production techniques.

The new 34,000-square-foot teaching and research complex is part of UC Davis’ Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science; it was financed entirely by private gifts totaling more than $20 million. It is the first building at UC Davis built entirely with private funding. No state or federal funds were used to build and equip the complex.

The new facility is LEED Platinum certified, the highest rating for environmental design and construction awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) It is the first winery to receive such certification.

The building bristles with advanced technology, including the world’s first wireless wine fermentation system—conceived, designed and donated by T.J. Rodgers, founder of Cypress Semiconductor and owner of 500-case Clos de La Tech Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

“We are so very proud of this state-of-the-art teaching and research complex,” said UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, herself a computer scientist. “It is a crown jewel for UC Davis. And it is proof of our enduring commitment to food, wine, beer and agriculture, overall—here in our region and globally. And it was built in tough times without state or federal funds.

“This facility really embodies everything that UC Davis stands for today. And at the same time, it is a symbol of where we are headed,” Katehi said. “We want to be a driver of innovation—and a partner in economic development—to improve our economy and quality of life. We want to be stewards of our natural resources and a model of sustainability.”

Neal Van Alfen, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said: “This research complex is a landmark for UC Davis and the wine, brewing and food industries in California. It will allow us to conduct cutting-edge research and train the next generation of food-industry leaders.”

Plans for Jackson sustainable winery

Van Alfen also shared information about the planned Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, which should be completed in 2013. It will house the technology needed to maximize the environmental capabilities of the adjacent new winery, brewery and food-processing complex.

For example, the sustainable winery building will enable the teaching and research winery to demonstrate how a winery can operate using rainwater, capturing, filtering and reusing that water many times. The planned building also will house equipment needed to sequester the carbon dioxide captured from the winery’s fermentation system, thus preventing damage to the atmosphere. This is expected to make it the first winery to have a net-zero carbon footprint, meaning that it captures and sequesters at least as much carbon dioxide as it produces.

Other speakers during the grand opening ceremony were U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Napa), whose district includes most of the campus, and who also grows grapes in Lake County; Jerry Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines; Doug Muhleman, an alumnus and trustee of the UC Davis Foundation; James Seiber, chair of the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology; and Andrew Waterhouse, chair of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.

Waterhouse noted that moving into the new winery from the old facility was “like jumping forward a century. It’s a 21st century model, not 19th.”

He added that the winery’s controls are so precise that it will allow researchers to study subtle and difficult issues. “Students will be learning in the world’s most advanced, safest and sustainable winery.”

Jerry Lohr, a civil engineer by training, contributed his time to review the plans and also led the campaign committee as well as donating $1 million himself. The fermentation room bears his name. In his remarks, he noted than many naming opportunities remain within the facility.

Also present for the event were Margrit Mondavi (who with her late husband Robert, gave the founding gift for the institute), representatives from Anheuser-Busch InBev and leaders from the California wine industry.

The new one-story complex has two adjoining wings and is adjacent to a new 12-acre teaching and research vineyard as well as academic buildings.

The complex’s north wing houses the new Department of Viticulture and Enology Teaching and Research Winery.

The south wing of the complex houses the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory, which includes the Anheuser-Busch InBev Brewery, the California Processing Tomato Industry Pilot Plant for processing a variety of foods, and the Milk Processing Laboratory.

Construction was completed in July, and winegrape crush and brewing began there in September. Equipment installation was recently completed in the food-processing pilot plant, and equipment is expected to be installed in the milk-processing laboratory in February.

Conservation technologies to be tested

The new winery, brewery and food-processing complex were designed to serve as a test bed for production processes and techniques that conserve water, energy and other vital resources.

Its environmentally friendly features include onsite solar power generation and a large-capacity system for capturing rainwater and conserving processing water. The stored rainwater will be used for landscaping and toilets.

The planned Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building will add an automated system to clean barrels, tanks and fermentors. The system will make it possible to reuse 90% of the captured rainwater, serving as a demonstration of how businesses with limited water can become self-sufficient. Plans call for the UC Davis winery, brewery and food-processing facility eventually to operate independent of the main campus water supply.

The new winery was designed to capture carbon dioxide from fermentation from a port in each of the new fermentors. An innovative process will be used to remove the carbon dioxide from the winery, reducing the building’s energy requirements for air quality and temperature control. The new sustainable winery building will make it possible to sequester the captured carbon dioxide so that it will not contribute to global warming.

Other environmentally responsible features include maximum use of natural light, rooftop photovoltaic cells to provide all of the facility’s power at peak load, new food-processing equipment that minimizes energy and water requirements, use of recycled glass in the flooring, interior paneling recycled from a 1928 wooden aqueduct and use of lumber harvested from sustainably certified forest operations.

Private funds make vision a reality
UC Davis winery
Bill Murphy of Clos La Chance Winery heads the Department of Viticulture and Enology's Board of Visitors and Fellows.
Robert Mondavi started the funding drive for the facility with a $5 million contribution in 2001. That was followed in 2002 by a $5 million pledge by the Anheuser-Busch Foundation.

Dozens of other private donors contributed funds including Ronald and Diane Miller, owners of Silverado Vineyards; Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke and Jerry Lohr.

In all, more than 150 individuals, alumni, corporations and foundations contributed funds to make the new complex a reality. These included major contributions from the Department of Viticulture and Enology’s Board of Visitors and Fellows headed by Bill Murphy of 60,000-case Clos La Chance Winery, San Martin, Calif.

The viticulture and enology department at UC Davis includes 14 faculty members and enrolls 100 undergraduate students and 40 graduate students.

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