Living in the Bay Area of northern California has many advantages. Yes, it is beautiful here. The food is fantastic..great products, great restaurants. If you are into wine tasting, we’ve got Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and the Sierra Foothills just a short jaunt from our doorstep. If you are into making wine, a world class university is only about 90 minutes away.
Researchers, enologists and students come from all over the world to study and do work at the University of California at Davis. When it comes to the ivy league of wine making schools, Davis is right up there with Geisenheim, Adelaide, Montpellier and Dijon.
For the past several months I have had a bug in my bonnet. No, it’s not enough for me to work with wine 8+ hours a day, imbibe the stuff and write about it in blog format. Soon my living room will double as a chai/cellar! Yes, that’s right, I am going to attempt to make a small amount of wine this fall. Eeek!
In addition to offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in viticulture and enology, the university offers a series of ongoing courses for non-matriculated students who which to take advantage of and learn from the big brains at this institution. Over the course of the year (summer included) UC Davis Extension offers a comprehensive array of winemaking and viticulture classes, for all levels; from the home winemaker/grower to large commercial wineries.
At this point I fall squarely into the complete novice small potatos home winemaker camp. Realizing that I should probably start at the beginning, I decided to take an intro to wine chemistry course. You can read the course description above. For two days professor Michael Ramsey covered and “distilled” key topics like pH, total vs. titratable acidity, volatile acidity, hydrogen sulfide, the role of nitrogen, filtration and fining etc..
I left the class with my head spinning, a huge informational binder, and a much firmer handle on what I am about to undertake. Looks like there is a wine analysis class for home/small commerical winemakers in several weeks which I hope to sign up for.
This class was a great first experience for me. I recommend that anyone interested in learning more about winemaking, grape growing or the business of wine check out the courses offered through UC Davis Extension.
More to come on mumu’s home winemaking project..(so far it looks like I am going to work with grenache)
Next: Strait to the heart of Provence..Château Miraval