Thursday, January 29, 2015

Underage wine students may benefit from ‘sip and spit’ bill

wine tasting 1w

UC Davis viticulture and enology students gather outside of class for a wine tasting session organized by the student group Vitis. Courtesy photo

From page A1 | June 24, 2014 |

Linda Bisson, a professor of viticulture and enology at UC Davis, says that for her students to successfully judge a wine, they need to appraise its color and hue, assess the “nuances of the aroma” and taste the wine for its sweetness or acidity.

But Bisson said students enrolled in UC Davis’ top-ranked winemaking program can earn a degree without ever sampling the alcohol they make for course credit.

That may be changing soon if legislation by Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, chairman of the Legislature’s Select Committee on Wine, is approved. Dubbed the “sip and spit” bill, the legislation would allow underage students in wine programs throughout the state to taste, but not ingest, alcohol in their classes.

There are seven schools offering viticulture and enology degrees in California that would be affected by the bill, including UCD, Fresno State and Santa Rosa Junior College — which lies in Chesbro’s coastal 2nd District. With a 12-acre vineyard adjacent to its campus, UCD is the largest program of the seven.

The bill is sponsored by the UC system and supported by the CSU system and the Community College League of California. No opposition against the legislation has been filed.

“Being able to judge the quality of the wine is essential in wine production, and our students really need to start learning those skills early to prepare for their first jobs,” said UCD enology professor Andrew Waterhouse. “It also hurts our students because most of them need to put that class off until their last year although it’s a class they really should be taking earlier.”

Adrian Lopez, director of governmental relations for UCD, said he hopes the bill also will help hasten the pace of graduation, particularly when a growing number of UC students spend more than four years earning their degrees. (Of the 5,000 students entering UCD in 2007, 1,250 took more than four years to graduate.)

“For some students, it can be a time-of-degree issue,” Lopez said. “Some students wait around, taking other classes until they turn 21. It would be better for the students if they could take those classes earlier.”

UCD offers two wine-tasting courses. Although neither of the classes is required for graduation, Bisson said both are very popular among students and are critical to the curriculum. Currently, Bisson teaches a wine-production class — not restricted to students of drinking age — where she lets students smell, but not taste, the wines they make.

“Students smell and can assess the wines visually, but if something needs tasting we’ll usually have a lab manager do it and report back to the class,” Bisson said. “Obviously, the students aren’t very happy with that.”

To supplement the curriculum, some students meet monthly to sample wines outside of the classroom, although this doesn’t benefit students like Connor Bockman, 20, and others who are still underage.

“I know a lot of people who can’t make the meetings because they aren’t of age yet, and it’s really a pity because we really are learning a lot,” said Jean-Sebastien Calvet, a third-year student in UCD’s wine program.

California is far and away the highest wine-producing state in the country, generating more than 87 percent of all wine in the United States, according to figures published by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Waterhouse says UCD students are already “very desirable” among the state’s 8,800 wineries, adding that the Chesbro bill will only make them more employable.

Still, California is late to the game in passing “sip and spit” legislation. Twelve other states already have laws allowing underage wine-production students to sample alcohol in class, which may put students in programs like Oregon State’s ahead of the curve.

“Oregon State has a wine program that does engage more in tasting and food pairing,” Bisson said.

Bisson and Waterhouse said there are no immediate plans to change UCD’s curriculum, although if the bill is passed, Waterhouse would encourage students to take the university’s tasting courses earlier in their college careers.

The Chesbro bill passed unopposed on the Assembly floor earlier this year and is scheduled to be heard in the state Senate committee on governmental organization Tuesday.



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    ‘Huck’ and ‘Tom’ float old Arboretum dock to removal

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Work continues to modernize Davis Healthcare Center

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Holman continues to educate and inspire

    By Daniella Tutino | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Overweight video game avatars ‘play’ worse than fit ones

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Meet the mayor for coffee at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Author joins radio show

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Make your own SoulCollage on Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Calling all chicken owners: Apply for coop crawl, share information

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Walk through Quail Ridge Reserve on Feb. 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Hopmans named associate vice provost for global affairs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Review motivation to refresh your healthy-habits plan

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Tips to protect skin this winter

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    For health and healthy appearance, there’s just one quick fix

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7



    Basement living, with attitude to match

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    50 years since Ash Hall

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Can climate change bring us together?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino coming to a vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10



    Aggies still looking for record hoops win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil Hammond has a huge day at home

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Pent up? Join Davis’ latest athletic event

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Two in a row for Devil boys

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD roundup: Aggie football players crack the books

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Youth roundup: Harper hoopsters off to hot start

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Treys send Toronto past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8



    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

    College Corner: Have wanderlust? Go overseas for college

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A8

    District learns from bomb threat incident

    By Kellen Browning | From Page: A8

    It’s Girl Scout Cookie time!

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Feenstra-Fisher wedding

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9



    Show explores the evolution of dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    A rose by any other name — if there is one

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A11

    Acclaimed guitarist Adrian Legg to play at The Palms on Saturday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery





    James George Tingus

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Thursday, January 29, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B6