by Bonnie Mager, OLLI member

Define these terms and the connection they have with each other:

  • Phylloxera
  • Tannin
  • Head pruning
  • Vintage
  • Cork taint
  • Maderization
  • Malolactic fermentation
  • Appellation of origin

Got it? These are all terms used in the wine industry. These and many others will be defined and discussed by Richard Monson in his next course on the history, art, and science of winemaking.

Dick, a native of LA, left the southland behind when he came to UC Berkeley for his Ph.D. in Chemistry. The majority of his teaching experience was in organic chemistry and he was department head at CSU Hayward (now CSU East Bay). But for 15 years, he also taught winemaking and wine analysis there. He started teaching about wine when the opportunity came up for him to accompany a group of CSU students to France. Various subjects were to be pursued, and he suggested that he could teach winemaking. He learned as much as his students did, and from that experience he developed a course in which the students made and analyzed wine.

In 1996 he used part of a sabbatical year to work in the lab at Kendall

Jackson Winery in Napa during the crush. He learned how a large winery works. Later that year he headed off to UC Davis to work in the aboratory of Professor Andrew Waterhouse in the department of enology. They studied the procedures for wine analysis and wine acids using capillary electrophoresis, and the results were published in a scientific journal, Analytical Letters.

After retiring in 2000 from the CSU system, he continued as professor emeritus, teaching courses at CSU East Bay in winemaking. In 2007, he was invited to teach at the Fromm Institute in San Francisco, and soon got involved in OLLI. His enthusiasm for the subject of wine and winemaking is enormous, as is his body of knowledge. His courses include viticulture, the effects of variations in soils and climate on the grapes, the various methods of wine production, the distinctions between American wine and wines from other parts of the world. His stories of the history of the California winemaking industry are fascinating, as are the tales of the characters in the wine business and their sometimes criminal shenanigans. He knows many of these colorful people who add spice to the history.

He looks forward to the next OLLI series. He loves these mature students and the knowledge they bring to his classes, especially the give and take that occurs. The class will not include wine tasting, but he hopes to arrange a wine tasting event after his lecture series is completed. He will attend the next open house to give a preview of his course. All wine lovers should be there.