Cal Poly Mourns Professor

Dr. Keith Patterson was instrumental in forming Wine & Viticulture program

by Caroline Shakeshaft
cal poly
Dr. Keith Patterson had a 16-year career at
California Polytechnic State University in
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
San Luis Obispo, Calif.—California Polytechnic State University professor Dr. Keith Patterson died of cancer Thursday at his home in Santa Margarita, Calif., according to Wine & Viticulture program director Jim Cooper. Patterson was 66.

After enjoying a 16-year career at Cal Poly, Patterson entered semi-retirement from teaching in spring 2012 to begin cancer treatment. He had been scheduled to return to teaching for the spring semester, which begins April 1.

Connection with each student
A celebration of life is planned for 1 p.m. on May 11 at Santa Margarita Ranch at 9000 Yerba Buena Ave. in Santa Margarita, Calif.Patterson taught every student that went through Cal Poly’s Wine & Viticulture program. While the majority of undergraduates’ major classes focus on their chosen concentration—wine business, enology or viticulture—all students are required to take introductory classes within the other concentrations. According to Cooper, giving students a well-rounded knowledge of the wine industry was important to Patterson, whose introductory viticulture class was among the required curriculum.

    A celebration of life is planned for 1 p.m. on May 11 at Santa Margarita Ranch at 9000 Yerba Buena Ave. in Santa Margarita, Calif.

“Without Keith, the program wouldn’t be where it is today. He was instrumental in getting the minor approved in 1999 and the major in 2004. He was the catalyst.” Patterson also served as advisor for Cal Poly’s service-based club Vines to Wines.

Knowledge and humor
Patterson’s former colleague, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery winemaker Jim Shumate, told Wines & Vines, “He shared his vast knowledge unselfishly with all those that came in touch with him.

“His great sense of humor, his love of teaching and his impact on the wine industry will be only a few of the things that he will be remembered for,” Shumate said.

Patterson earned an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in horticulture at the University of Arkansas. He completed a Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 1985.

Patterson’s research included grapevine physiology, trellis/training and rootstocks. He also taught classes in vineyard development and pest management.

“He got involved with the students,” Cooper said. “He had a wealth of knowledge that he was able to integrate and bring to the classroom and to the fields. Very few people have that ability.
Posted on 03.25.2013 - 10:22:24 PST
Patterson's introductory course to wine & viticulture is the reason I am in the industry today. His passion and knowledge made this business feel unlike any other. I will always remember his sense of humor and I am forever grateful for his guidance.
Heather Rehnberg

Posted on 03.25.2013 - 07:46:58 PST
I will miss Keith's humor, knowledge, and mint buckets. He was one hell of a viticulturist!
Bryan Anthony