Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- February 15, 2002

Cal Poly Adds World-Renowned Viticulture Expert to College of Agriculture Faculty

World-renowned viticulture authority Richard Smart will join the Cal Poly College of Agriculture in March as its first Distinguished Visiting Professor of Wine and Viticulture, charged with both teaching and viticulture research.

Smart, of Australia, is an internationally recognized viticulture expert. He began his research work in the mid-1960s in Australia, developing an international reputation for vineyard canopy management and its effects on wine quality, and works as a consultant with vineyard clients in more than 20 countries. He writes regularly for California and Australian trade journals and is well known as the viticulture editor of both editions of the celebrated "Oxford Companion to Wine," edited by Janis Robinson. His handbook "Sunlight into Wine" is regarded as the essential reference book for quality wine grape production.

His appointment as a visiting professor is ongoing. He will teach at Cal Poly spring quarter each year, from mid-March until early June. Industry leaders have already hailed the addition of Professor Smart as a coup for Cal Poly as well as for the entire California viticulture sector.

"He literally wrote the book on canopy management and his theories on new plantings simply work all over California," said Dana Merrill, former chairman of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, American Vineyard Magazine's 2000 Grower of the Year, and a 1975 Cal Poly graduate.

At Cal Poly, Smart will be teaching two courses, one in advanced vine physiology and a new course he will develop on growing quality wine grapes. Smart will also have the opportunity to contribute to graduate student research programs. Additionally, he will be consulting and conducting external industry seminars, workshops and research. Smart's research while at Cal Poly will concentrate on aiding wine grape growers in improving wine quality.

Cal Poly College of Agriculture Interim Dean David J. Wehner called Smart's visiting professorship important to both the university and the California wine industry. "Richard's appointment will send a clear signal to California viticulture and to our students that Cal Poly intends to be a serious interactive partner in the industry, both regionally and statewide," Wehner said.

Added the dean, "Richard is a perfect fit. He exemplifies Cal Poly's 'learn by doing' philosophy. He is seeking to educate students and growers with personalized contact, the best modern practices, and quality assurance."

Cal Poly Viticulture Professor Keith Patterson said Smart will bring an international perspective to the university's viticulture program.

"His innovations in canopy management and trellis design have literally revolutionized the concepts of vineyard management. Our students will benefit greatly from his teaching," Patterson said.

California's wine industry will also benefit from Smart's presence on the Central Coast, as he will be offering short courses and industry seminars to help growers and vintners take an industry lead in vineyard innovations and top-quality wine production, Patterson said.

Patterson also looks forward to collaborating with Smart on research projects. "Our graduate program is continuing to expand, and Professor Smart brings a research background, coupled with an international perspective, that will prepare our students to be leaders in the industry," Patterson said.

Smart says he is looking forward to his time at Cal Poly's College of Agriculture, which will be a return to teaching and research for him. "I am absolutely delighted to be working at Cal Poly," Smart said. "I've argued for years for more acknowledgement of the role of vineyards and viticulturalists in creating quality wine. Cal Poly, along with its growing emphasis on cool-climate viticulture, firmly believes in that concept and, like me, is interested in only one thing -- results!"

Smart's appointment is the first in what the university plans to be a continuing series of visiting professorship appointments to bring the world's foremost wine and viticulture authorities into Cal Poly's classrooms and laboratories.

Note to Editors: For more information about Smart, visit his Web site at

Contact: Trilby Barton
(805) 781-9294

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