The wine industry in both California and Chile is a major agricultural sector that continues to grow in volume as well as in quality of premium wines. The quality and value of wines are determined by a complex interplay of grapevine genetics, soil conditions, climate, maturity, fermentation and aging.
There are opportunities for science-based interventions at each one of these stages in the wine production process to improve the final product and its economic value. Because of the climactic similarities between Chile and California, the same grape varieties are grown in Chile and California and the conditions for wine production are very similar. However, there are some differences as well, particularly with regard to the most important pests and disease. For example, Phyloxera is a significant soil pest in California but is not present in Chile. Thus, there is the opportunity to share information and research results but there is also a need for research directed to the unique conditions in Chile.
The UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology is one the founding Departments of UC Davis and is credited with providing the technological basis for the modern California wine industry. In 2008, the Department opened the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science that houses state-of-the-art research labs the new LEED Platinum Teaching and Research Winery—the most advanced, sustainable winery in the world. The most recent addition is the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building that will house research to pioneer sustainable wine processing ideas like water capture and reuse, carbon dioxide capture, and alternative energy sources.
The opportunities for collaborative research built upon the human resources and research infrastructure at UC Davis are enormous.