Global Wine World Just 2 Degrees from UC Davis

Photo: Winemaker Kathy Joseph stands in her vineyard
Alumna Kathy Joseph, owner and winemaker of Fiddlehead Cellars and Fiddlestix Vineyard, finds that her graduate education in the Department of Viticulture and Enology and hands-on experience have equipped her to wear the many hats of a winemaker. Fran Collin photo

It’s long been said only 6 degrees of separation exist between you and any other person in the world.

Wine majors and more

These majors can lead to graduate studies or a career in winemaking:

Read what other alumni are doing #AggiesAtWork.

Like the Department of Viticulture and Enology’s Facebook page and keep up with our global wine family.

But in the global wine world, the relational fabric is even more tightly woven. In fact, some point to just 2 degrees of separation between UC Davis’ acclaimed Department of Viticulture and Enology and anyone in the wine world — anywhere! They either went to school, taught or consulted at UC Davis or have a relative, employee or close friend who did. 

For this story, we identified more than two dozen people from our network of folks who are often no more than onehand-reach from UC Davis and certainly no more than two. 

If in your travels, you bump into someone else in the wine world who professes a close connection to UC Davis, justpoint them in our direction. We’d be happy to add them to the fold.



Stacy Clark 

Portrait of Stacy Clark
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Wine-world role: Winemaker, Charles Krug Winery

Spot on the globe: Napa Valley, California

UC Davis link: Alumna, bachelor’s ’83 in fermentation science

Why it’s mattered:

I wasn’t planning on a winemaking career. I found it at UC Davis while studying biology. So the viticulture and enology program at UC Davis has been the foundation of my life and my career. The program gives a technical background and the tools to move into the more physical aspects of the industry. The ongoing educational opportunities allow everyone to keep improving, and provide a great avenue even for people who don’t have the time for a more traditional four-year program.


Michael Silacci

Portrait of Michael Silacci
© Opus One

Wine-world role: Winemaker, Opus One winery

Spot on the globe: Napa Valley, California

UC Davis link: Alumnus, bachelor's '86 in fermentation science and master's '88 in food science,

Why it’s mattered: 

My education at UC Davis is at the center of the golden circle of my professional life. I learned to ask and to understand the “whys” of the world of viticulture and enology at UC Davis. Knowing why allows everything else in life to fall into place. Interactions with Roger Boulton throughout my career are threads that have helped to keep me centered.


Zelma Long 

Photo of Zelma Long sitting on a bench
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Wine-world role: Winemaker and co-founder, with winegrowing husband Phillip Freese, of Vilafonte Winery and Vineyard, Western Cape, South Africa

Spot on the globe: South Africa, plus consulting in California, Washington, Israel and France 

UC Davis link: Long and Freese both have deep UC Davis roots: Zelma, graduate studies viticulture and enology in the late ‘60s; Philip, Ph.D. ’73 in biochemistry/biophysics. Zelma received UC Davis Distinguished Alumni Award,‘09

Why it’s mattered:

I learned from UC Davis faculty members the science of grape growing and winemaking, and the science and aesthetics of wine sensory work. Currently, I use the UC Davis professors as resources, attend some of the great educational outreach wine and grape programs they provide on campus, and refer wine professionals and friends around the world to visit the viticulture and enology program and see the brilliant new teaching winery.


Gary and Kathy Jordan 

Photo of Gary and Kathy Jordon in vineyard
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Wine-world role: Owner/operators ofJordan Wine Estate, one of South Africa’s top wine estates

Spot on the globe: Stellenbosch, South Africa

UC Davis link: In 1988-89, both Jordans attended classes in the Department of Viticulture and Enology while working internships at Iron Horse Winery in Sonoma, California.

Why it’s mattered:

We would not be where we are today without our time at UC Davis spent in the viticulture and enology department. I ascribe our success last year (2014) at receiving the Decanter International Trophy for the top chardonnay as well as receiving the International Wine and Spirit Competition International Trophy for the best bordeaux red blend, and also being awarded South African Producer of the Year as being due to the incredible knowledge we gained under all the professors we studied under at UC Davis. – Gary Jordan


Marina Bely 

Portrait of Marina Bely
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Wine-world role: Associate professor in microbiology at the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences of the University of Bordeaux

Spot on the globe: France

UC Davis link: Postdoctoral scholar in viticulture and enology

Why it’s mattered:

My work involves control of alcoholic fermentation and yeast selection. My current area of research concerns the investigation of non-Saccharomycesyeasts with a specific focus on yeast species of interest in enology, such as Torulaspora delbrueckiiand Metschnikowia pulcherrima.


John Williams 

Portrait of John Williams in a vineyard
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Wine-world role: Winemaker, owner/co-founder Frog’s Leap winery

Spot on the globe: Napa Valley, California

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’77 in viticulture and enology, guest speaker for viticulture and enology classes

Why it’s mattered:

Has it mattered? — Oh my goodness yes! First, there is the research and information, as well as the various workshops and publications; second, the relationships with the ever-accessible professors and staff; and third — all my UC Davis colleagues with whom I am in regular communication. 


Jim Harbertson 

Portrait of Jim Harbertson
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Wine-world role: Associate professor of enology in the Viticulture and Enology Program, School of Food Science, Washington State University

Spot on the globe: Pullman, Washington

UC Davis link: Alumnus, bachelor’s ’96 in biochemistry, Ph.D. ’03 in agricultural and environmental chemistry

Why it’s mattered:

I still think of my time at Davis as some of the best of my life. I owe quite a lot to the viticulture and enology program. I remember being a very young man and not really knowing what I was going to do with myself.  Professor Doug Adams gave me a chance in his lab, and I took it.  Doug is a wonderful teacher and fantastic mentor.  I was incredibly lucky to be able to learn from all of the fantastic faculty members at Davis.  They don’t just give students information and call it a day; they teach you how to critically think and solve problems. Ten years on, I have put a lot of that to practice in doing my own research in wine and grape chemistry at Washington State University.


Christian Butzke 

Portrait of Christian Butzke holding a glass of wine
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Wine-world role: Professor of enology in the Department of Food Science, Purdue University

Spot on the globe: West Lafayette, Indiana

UC Davis link: Served on the UC Davis faculty from 1993 to 2002 as UC Cooperative Extension enologist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology 

Why it’s mattered:

I started my professional career in the wine industry in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, and I owe most of it to my colleagues at UC Davis who mentored and supported me. Today, I have ongoing connections to winemakers and winegrowers, former grad students and wine scientists on all six continents.


Carol and John Franzia 

Carol and John Franzia standing in a winery with barrels behind them
William Khoury Photography

Wine-world role: John is co-president of Bronco Wine Co.; daughter Carol is Bronco’s winemaker  

Spot on the globe: Ceres, California

UC Davis link: Alumni: John, bachelor’s ’62 in agricultural production; Carol, bachelor’s ’86 in fermentation science

Why it’s mattered:

Both of us went to UC Davis for the opportunity of an excellent education. The knowledge we gained gave us an understanding of the relationship between growing quality grapes and making quality wines. We still enjoy working with the faculty at UC Davis and are involved in research trials with them whenever possible. — Carol Franzia


Rosa Lamuela-Raventos 

Portrait of Rosa Lemuela Raventos
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Wine-world role: Associate professor in Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Barcelona, and principal investigator,  CIBEROBN, a Spanish research institution focused on nutrition and obesity

Spot on the globe:  Barcelona, Spain

UC Davis link: Postdoctoral position completed in ’96 in viticulture and enology; friendships and research collaborations continue

Why it’s mattered:

I think my postdoc at UC Davis totally changed my life. It allowed me to meet some very open-minded people who had created an exceptionally dynamic and interactive environment where you could freely discuss anything related with viticulture and enology. It was where my interest in polyphenols and health started. So, thanks to that stage in UC Davis, I am now an active professor with an intensive teaching, administrative and research program.


Mihalis Boutaris 

Profile of Mihalis Boutaris
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Wine-world role: Owner-operator of wine holding company in China, Korea and Japan; wine import/distribution company in China; and premium vineyard in Gansu Province, China

Spot on the globe: Greece and Asia

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’00 in viticulture and enology

Why it’s mattered:

The viticulture and enology program at UC Davis has endowed me with a critical thinking about winemaking, as well as an exposure to the traditions of many different wine regions around the world through the faculty’s excellence and the diversity of the student body. This educational experience has helped me make the most of the five-generation legacy of my family’s business to deal with technical and non-technical challenges across the board of the supply chain — from the root system of a vineyard in a remote wine region to a high-end restaurant in a global metropolis.


Tom Smith 

Portrait of Tom Smith
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Wine-world role: Vice President of Winegrowing, E. & J. Gallo Winery

Spot on the globe: Modesto, California

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’84 in food science and technology, with a viticulture and enology emphasis; chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology’s Executive Leadership Board; and recipient of the 2015 Award of Distinction from College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Why it’s mattered:

Before I came to UC Davis, I did not fully appreciate that winemaking exists at the very interface of art and science. I got a big head start at Davis by learning scientific method, objective reasoning, problem-solving, how to taste wine and foundational wine science. Over time, UC Davis opened many doors for me and provided an opportunity to quickly gain new friends and colleagues within the wine industry.


Alan Bakalinsky 

Portrait of Alan Bakalinksy with older village in background
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Wine-world role: Associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology of Oregon State University, studying the physiology of fermentation, with a focus on the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Spot on the globe: Corvallis, Oregon

UC Davis link: Alumnus, bachelor’s’79 in fermentation science, master’s ’83 in food science/enology, and Ph.D. ’89 in microbiology

Why it’s mattered:

The V&E program provided a wonderful introduction into the fascinating world of wine and led to my ongoing love affair with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


Felipe Laurie 

Portrait of Felipe Laurie
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Wine-world role: Professor of enology and wine researcher with the School of Agricultural Sciences at the Universidad de Talca, a public university

Spot on the globe: Talca, Chile, in the heart of Chile’s agricultural region

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’03 in viticulture and enology, ’06 in food science; wife Carolina Rubio is also an alumna, master’s ’06 in viticulture and enology

Why it’s mattered:

The viticulture and enology department had a tremendous influence in my life and career, mostly because of the wonderful people I met. This is a place in which I found the education I wanted, world-class science, innovation, leadership, and long-lasting friendships. What else could I ask for?


John Thorngate 

Portrait of John Thorngate 
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Wine-world role: Wine scientist and head of sensory department at Constellation Brands

Spot on the globe: St. Helena, California

UC Davis link: Alumnus, PhD. ‘92 in agricultural and environmental chemistry

Why it’s mattered:

All of my postgraduate career can be said to have been directly influenced by my time at UC Davis. I still maintain very close connections with the faculty in the Department of Viticulture and Enology and actively publish research with my colleagues there.


Kathy Joseph 

Photo of Kathy Joseph in the middle of her vineyard with her arms held wide
Fran Collin photo

Wine-world role: Founder, owner and winemaker for Fiddlehead Cellarsand Fiddlestix Vineyard, a small winery and vineyard committed to producing pinot noir and sauvignon blanc from California’s Santa Barbara County and Oregon’s Willamette Valley as well as, more recently, grüner veltliner, a white varietal originating in Germany

Spot on the globe: Davis and Lompoc, California

UC Davis link: Graduate studies ’81 in food science with an enology emphasis; guest lecturer on winery and vineyard business structure and operations, and on pinot noir production.

Why it’s mattered:

I am a believer in multi-faceted education. The more you know, the better are your skills as a decision maker. My hands-on experience has been greatly enhanced by my formal education. It allows for more astute recognition of problems and successes, enhances response time and knowledge of solutions, and offers connections to brilliant minds in the research field.


James Kennedy 

Profile of James Kennedy
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Wine-world role: Vice president, Polyphenolics and Concentrate, a division of Constellation Brands

Spot on the globe: Madera, California

UC Davis link: Alumnus, bachelor’s ’87 in chemistry; Ph.D. ’95 in agricultural and environmental chemistry

Why it’s mattered:

I would not be in my current position had I not attended UC Davis. I use my training every day and am still very close to my colleagues in the Department of Viticulture and Enology.


Vladimir Jiranek 

Portrait of Vladimir Jiranek
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Wine-world role: Professor of oenology, heads the newly formed Department of Wine and Food Science, University of Adelaide

Spot on the globe: Australia

UC Davis link: Research collaborations with several professors; sabbatical leave and graduate student exchanges

Why it’s mattered:

I have a long association with UC Davis, beginning with my interactions with Professor Cornelius Ough when he undertook sabbatical in Adelaide in 1990 when I was a Ph.D. student at the Australian Wine Research Institute. Through interactions or awareness of the research activities of the likes of professors Dave Block, David Mills, Linda Bisson and Roger Boulton, I have been able to extend my own research, participate in joint projects and to begin develop future collaborative project ideas.


Victor Schoenfeld 

Profile of Victor Schoenfeld
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Wine-world role: Head winemaker at Yarden-Golan Heights Winery, which also owns Galil Mountain Winery

Spot on the globe: Israel

UC Davis link: alumnus, bachelor’s degree ’88 in fermentation science; four of the group’s eight winemakers are UC Davis alumni

Why it’s mattered:

It could be argued that our winery started because of UC Davis. [In the 1970s UC Davis Professor Cornelius Ough urged the planting of vineyards in the Golan Heights and the subsequent establishment of a winery.] Looking back, I think a key to the education we received is that not only were we taught the knowledge of winegrowing and winemaking; maybe more importantly, we were taught to think critically about the entire process, enabling ongoing independent education, enrichment and improvement.


Ulrich Fischer 

Portrait of Ulrich Fischer
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Wine-world role: Chair of the Institute for Viticulture and Oenology of the State Research Center in Neustadt Germany

Spot on the globe: Neustadt, Germany

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’90 in food science; hired UC Davis alumni; stays in touch with classmates

Why it’s mattered:

My graduate studies at UC Davis had a tremendous impact on my career and gave me a wonderful initiation to the world of science. First of all, I learned how to plan and execute decent research, how to write scientific papers or grant proposals, and, most important, to be excited and curious about scientific questions. UC Davis acted also as a door-opener for many international contacts with former classmates as well as many scientific or winemaking-related colleagues.


Chris Carpenter 

Portrait of Chris Carpenter
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Wine-world role: Winemaker, overseeing five Jackson Family Enterprises wineries

Spot on the globe: Napa Valley, California, and the McClaren Vale, Australia

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’98 in viticulture and enology

Why it’s mattered:

From an academic and professional side, the knowledge imparted to me across all of the subjects and classes I studied in have again and again served me in accomplishing my viticultural and winemaking goals. The doors that a master’s degree from UC Davis has opened for me have been innumerable.


Fernando Buscema 

Portrait of Fernando Buscema
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Wine-world role: Technical director, Bodegas CARO and executive director, Catena Institute of Wine

Spot on the globe: Argentina

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’12 in viticulture and enology; research collaborations and friendships continue 

Why it’s mattered:

My time at UC Davis has changed my life. UC Davis is recognized as the Harvard of viticulture and enology. It has opened a lot of doors for me and allowed me to connect with the brightest people in the field.


Yasushi Fukuda 

Portrait Yasushi Fukuda
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Wine-world role: Vice president for global supply chain integration, Beam Suntory

Spot on the globe: Illinois and Japan

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’92 in food science, with enology emphasis

Why it’s mattered:

It helped me a lot for global business, especially all supply chain activities, including alcohol fermentation, distillation, inventory management, production, quality assurance and procurement. Wine, brandy, whisky and other alcohol drinks are significantly correlated for my business purpose.


Joe Shirley 

Portrait of Joe Shirley
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Wine-world role: Director of winemaking, Trinchero Family Estates, responsible for Napa Cellars and Folie a Deux wines

Spot on the globe: St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

UC Davis link: Alumnus, master’s ’96 in food science with an enology emphasis

Why it’s mattered:

My education at UC Davis has helped me understand what happens during the winemaking process at a chemical, biochemical, physical and microbiological level. This has proven to be particularly helpful when considering which products and processes I might want to integrate into my winemaking approach. 


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