UC Davis Winemaking School Goes LEED Platinum
on 28/10/10 at 8:57 amWine
On a recent weekday morning in October, a wine-production class is in full swing at the University of California at Davis. A group of students and their professor meet in a sunlit, glass-walled classroom, before moving into the adjacent fermentation hall to check the progress of grapes they crushed a few weeks ago, now fermenting in small stainless-steel drums. Ten students head into a nearby lab to analyze samples.
Meanwhile, dozens of fermentations are bubbling away in pods of gleaming-new, 200-liter research fermentors, which provide automated temperature and sugar-level readings and can even be programmed to conduct regular pump-overs. Winemaker Chik Brenneman is monitoring each tank remotely from the control room, as the sensors transmit readings wirelessly to his computer, graphing the progress of each ferment on his screen. Over in the crushpad area, amid a full range of cutting-edge commercial winery equipment, Vermentino is being pressed; the juice will be used for other teaching and research projects.
At first glance, all this appears perfectly normal, exactly what you might expect to see at UC Davis, home of the United States’ leading viticulture and enology program, whose graduates work at top wineries and universities all over the world. In fact, this scene represents a huge change.
Just in time for the start of the 2010 fall semester, the Department of Viticulture and Enology moved out of its old winemaking facility, built in the 1930s, and into a new $15 million teaching and research winery, part of a 34,000-square-foot complex that also includes a new brewery and a food-processing plant.