Guests gathered at the brand new Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on Friday morning to officially open the 130,000 square-foot center.
Located near the Robert and Margrit Modavi Center for Performing Arts, the $73 million facility is home to the viticulture and enology and food science and technology departments.
“What we are celebrating today is two great departments,“ said Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. “The contribution that UC Davis has made to the industries has been tremendous.”
Previously the ever-growing viticulture department and one of the largest food science programs in the nation were housed in far too small of quarters, Vanderhoef said.
“It was Robert Mondavi and others who saw that we had to improve our circumstances here,” he said.
Margrit Biever Mondavi, wife of the late and legendary wine maker Robert Mondavi, spoke of the achievements the institute will bring to the university.
“We are so proud,” she said. “Now when you drive by, it’s not anymore just a sign, it’s these buildings. It started with the performing arts center, and now it is the colorful, beautiful buildings that we have here. And we are recognized for one of the greatest universities of the world.”
“I am sad that the love of my life isn’t here today, but I know he is watching over us,” she said.
The Mondavis donated $21 million in 2001 to establish the Wine and Food Science Institute in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. They also previously gave $10 million to help start the Mondavi Center, which opened in 2002.
Representative Mike Thompson (D-Napa) presented Margit Mondavi with a copy of a congressional resolution honoring Robert Mondavi, who died in May at the age of 94.
“[Robert Mondavi] has just done so much, and his passion for the wine industry has touched so many lives,” Thompson said. “Not only here, but around the world.”
University of California interim provost Robert Grey also spoke of UCD’s accomplishment of maintaining a small community atmosphere on an ever-expanding campus.
“UCD still retains its small-school feel,” Grey said. “President Yudoff asked to extend his gratitude to the Mondavis. We are most grateful for your many contributions.”
After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the audience’s attention was directed to the field behind them where the Budweiser Clydesdales were waiting. The team of eight horses pulling a beer wagon was present to kick off the groundbreaking ceremony for the Teaching and Research Winery and the Anheuser-Bush Brewing and Food Science Laboratory, which are scheduled to open in July 2010.
A giant fork, corkscrew and bottle opener were given to the ceremonial groundbreakers, which included chair of the viticulture and enology department Andrew Waterhouse, dean of the A&ES Neal K. Van Alfen and food, nutrition and health science department chair John Kinsella.
Following the festivities was a reception, tours for the institute and educational talks by Professor Charlie Bamforth on beer, Professor Emeritus Ann Noble on wine and a cooking demonstration by chef Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.