VEN celebrates 140th anniversary in 2020 with special Alumni Day

horse-drawn carriage in front of vineyard

The Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis is celebrating its 140th anniversary in 2020.  To celebrate this milestone, we are planning an all-class alumni get-together on April 24, 2020.

Be sure to save the date!  You won't want to miss this fun, informative program, the chance to see old friends, and an opportunity to expand your network.  We are planning a fun yet information-packed day.

Program highlights include:

  • The impact of the Department on the California and global wine industries
  • The "State of the Industry" with Jon Moramarco, Alumnus and Managing Partner, BW166
  • A panel discussion covering the breadth of our alumni's experience and the value of their UC Davis education
  • Explore the exciting future of the Department with our newest faculty
  • Enjoy lunch with old friends and take the opportunity to chat with current students
  • A Poster Session with the latest research results from the Department and the chance to reconnect with all of the faculty members
  • Tours of our world-class facilities

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Look for registration information in February 2020 and email us at, if you'd like to help us with organizational details such as connecting to alumni from specific years or planning content.


Some milestones in the history of the Department of Viticulture and Enology:

1876 – First publication related to grapes and wine by Eugene W. Hilgard. “Lecture on the phylloxera or grapevine louse.” University of California Bulletin 23.

April 1880 – The Act for the Promotion of the Viticultural Industries of the State mandates that the University of California do research into phylloxera, thus beginning formal work in the area of grape growing and wine making.

1908 – Short courses and practical instruction begin at the University Farm in Davis. Thirty acres of experimental vineyards are cultivated with a collection of new and rare table and shipping grapes, resistant stocks, and vines.

1935 – The Division of Viticulture and Fruit Products at the University Farm splits with the Department of Fruit Products at Berkeley and becomes the Division of Viticulture at Davis.

1937 – First formal instruction begins, 2 students.

1939 – The Division of Viticulture and Enology moves into the Enology Building which includes a pilot-sized winery and wine cellars.

1946 – Formal instruction resumes after the end of World War Two, 26 students.

1947 – John Daniel, Jr., heir to Inglenook, was instrumental in facilitating the donation of the South Station Vineyard by the Napa Valley growers to the Department of Viticulture, UC Davis. This vineyard was later joined to the Old Federal Vineyard nearby to form the Oakville Station. This facility is unique and provides the UC Davis faculty staff and students the opportunity to work with prime grape land. No other academic grape growing and wine making program in the world has such a facility.

1960s - UC Davis releases Olmo Chardonnay clones 04 and 05

1997 - TCA assay developed that led to reduction in cork taint and development of new closures and packaging

2008 – The Department of Viticulture and Enology occupies the new Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science Buildings.

2008 - Development of Adams-Harbertson assay for phenolics led to new wave of phenolic extraction research

2010 - First harvest in the new LEED Platinum Teaching and Research Winery

2013 - Next Gen Sequencing applied to vineyard and winery ecology

2013 - Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Building opens with the goal of taking the Teaching and Research Winery completely off the grid for water and energy

2013-2016 Technology for analyzing grape genome data developed

2014 - Yeast strain without H2S pathways developed

2019 - First comprehensive model for phenolic extraction in red wine is developed

2019 Release of five Pierce’s Disease resistant grape varieties