Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science Opens

Fittingly surrounded by olive trees and an edible garden, hundreds of dignitaries, visitors and members of the university community gathered today to celebrate the grand opening of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis.

The new 129,600-square-foot complex of three academic buildings, visible from Interstate 80, houses UC Davis' departments of Viticulture and Enology, and Food Science and Technology, as well as the administrative offices for the institute.

"How truly great it is that we are able to celebrate the Robert Mondavi Institute's grand opening as part of UC Davis' centennial celebration," said UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. "It is especially fitting because, with the grand opening of this institute, we are also celebrating two of UC Davis' historical strengths."

Vanderhoef noted that the University of California played an important role in founding and fueling California's $45 billion a year wine industry and has made significant contributions to the production and processing of California's foods.

The grand opening ceremony was held in the institute's expansive courtyard, landscaped as a demonstration garden that includes olive and citrus trees, vegetables, and herbs. The courtyard faces west toward a 12-acre teaching vineyard, which will be planted with grapevines this winter.

Special guest for the grand opening was Margrit Biever Mondavi, wife of the late Robert Mondavi. In 2001, Mondavi, a legendary California winemaker, gave $25 million to establish the wine and food science institute within UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The Mondavis also gave an additional $10 million to help launch the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2002 and is now a regional performing arts landmark.

Robert Mondavi died May 16 at his Napa Valley home at the age of 94.

"It was really Margrit and Bob who, going back 20 years, first talked about the continuum of wine, food and the arts and the importance of understanding the connections in that continuum," Vanderhoef said. "We're sad that Bob Mondavi isn't here with us today to share in this moment, but honored by the presence of Margrit and other members of the Mondavi family whose longstanding friendship is treasured by UC Davis."

Also participating in the grand opening were Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa Valley; University of California Interim Provost Robert Grey; Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Robert Mondavi's children, Tim Mondavi and Marcia Mondavi Borger. Emcee for the event was Clare M. Hasler, executive director of the Robert Mondavi Institute.

During the ceremony, Rep. Thompson, whose 1st Congressional District encompasses both UC Davis and the Napa Valley, presented Margrit Mondavi with a congressional resolution honoring Robert Mondavi.

Ceremonial groundbreaking

After ribbons were cut, signifying the official grand opening of the new complex, the audience turned its attention to the arrival of the Budweiser Clydesdales. The 8-horse hitch, pulling a beer wagon, signaled the beginning of a groundbreaking ceremony for the institute's second building phase, which will include design and construction of two connected, one-story buildings totaling 32,000 square feet.

One of the buildings will house the small-scale Teaching and Research Winery, and the other will be home to the Anheuser-Busch Brewing and Food Science Laboratory, which will include a brewery and pilot food-processing plant. Construction of the buildings, estimated to cost $16.5 million, is slated to begin in June 2009 with completion anticipated in July 2010.

"We are deeply grateful to the more than 150 individuals, alumni, corporate friends and foundations who have contributed to the $16.5 million goal for this phase of construction," said Dean Neal Van Alfen. He noted that the buildings have been designed to meet or exceed environmental specifications necessary for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED-NC Gold Certification.

Ceremonially turning the soil with a giant-sized fork, corkscrew and bottle opener during the groundbreaking were Doug Muhleman, group vice president of brewing operations and technology at Anheuser-Busch Inc. and a UC Davis alumnus; Charles Bamforth, chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology and the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences; Tim Mondavi and Marcia Mondavi Borger; Andrew Waterhouse, chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology and the John E. Kinsella Endowed Chair in Food, Nutrition and Health; Adrianna Gozza, a third-generation winemaker and graduate student in the Department of Viticulture and Enology; and Natasha Stephens, an undergraduate student in the Department of Food Science and Technology.

Following the groundbreaking, all of the ceremony attendees were invited to tour the new facilities; participate in beer, wine and olive oil tastings; and attend presentations by UC Davis alumnus, chef and television personality Martin Yan, as well as by UC Davis faculty members Ann Noble and Charles Bamforth.

Building background

Design and construction of the two phases of the Robert Mondavi Institute complex are estimated to cost a total of $93.5 million. This includes $73 million for the first phase, $16.5 million for design and construction of the second phase, and $4 million for utilities for the second phase.

Funding for both phases includes $36.2 million from the state of California; $20.8 million from UC Davis; and $36.5 million in philanthropic support from private companies, foundations and individuals. Among the top private donors were Robert Mondavi and the Anheuser-Busch Foundation.

The design and construction team for phase one of the institute included the architectural firm of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (ZGF) of Portland. Collaborating on the landscape design for the new complex were design partner Robert Frasca, Laurie Olin of the Olin Partnership and Walker/Macy Associates of Portland. The construction team included Flintco Construction Services of Tulsa, Okla.; Frank Riley; Brian Stevenson; and Craig Smart.

Selected to design, build and landscape the phase-two buildings are BNB NorCal of San Mateo and Flad Architects of San Francisco; along with Gayner Engineers, Therma, Red Top Electric, KPW Structural Engineers, Creegan+D'Angelo Civil Engineers and HLA Landscape Architects.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science -- and advanced degrees from five professional schools: Education, Law, Management, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine. The UC Davis School of Medicine and UC Davis Medical Center are located on the Sacramento campus near downtown.

Media Resources

Pat Bailey, Research news (emphasis: agricultural and nutritional sciences, and veterinary medicine), 530-219-9640,

Clare M. Hasler, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, (530) 754-6349,

Secondary Categories

University Food & Agriculture