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Christopher Loxton Colloquium Abstract (Jan 11, 2017)

Science and the Art of Winemaking

Much of modern wine making in the luxury segment of the wine industry would seem familiar to a winemaker of 100 years ago. Behind the familiar, though, are new methods that are aimed at consistently producing wines of the highest quality. The modern winemaker is surprisingly often a traditionalist with a solid understanding of soil science, plant physiology, biochemistry and chemistry.

Aerial imaging and data loggers now help us determine what to plant and where to plant it and also when to irrigate. In the past generation flavor scientists have guided us on how to train these vines to maximize flavors and colors. Chemists and biochemists have allowed us to take more educated risks as we understand what is happening in our fermentations and how we might use techniques like reverse osmosis to help us if things go wrong. Even the traditional process of aging the new wines in oak barrels is being revolutionized by a better understanding of wood chemistry and coopering and how this influences wine.

This seminar brings a physicists perspective to this ancient art and these advances are discussed with relation to the Estate vineyard and wines.