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Viticulture / Enology / Wine

Dave "Merf" Merfeld (Photo Kevin Cruff)
Fall 2018

Cornfields to vineyards

“I quit working in 1996,” says master winemaker David “Merf” Merfeld ’13. That was the year he got a job at Bert Grant’s Brewery in Yakima—one of the early craft breweries in the region.

Merf’s passion for fermentation started in his kitchen a few years earlier. He’d driven west to Seattle from the family farm in Iowa. “Thirty, thirty-one hours straight through,” he says, with maybe an “hour stop for a rain storm in South Dakota.” He was in the ’79 Park Avenue his dad gave him: “a great ride, and everything I owned fit in that car.” The first thing he and the buddy … » More …

Wine labels
Fall 2018

Designer labels

 

Every wine has a tale and deserves a wine label that can tell that story

 

That’s what motivates Jim Carey (‘78 Comm.) and Jim Craig from Doubleknot Creative in Seattle, a branding and design firm that has carved out a niche crafting the artwork that graces many Washington vintages.

The designers have seen wine labels in Washington evolve along with the varietals and the state’s wine industry as a whole. Washington wines continue to build reputation and credibility, and going against big hitters like California’s Napa Valley, “world-class wine deserves world-class packaging,” says Craig, the creative director of the firm.

Most of all, … » More …

Wine By Cougars label gallery
Fall 2018

Gallery: Wine labels from Wine-By-Cougars

We’ve compiled a gallery of wine labels for all the members of Wine-By-Cougars—wineries with a WSU connection and Cougar passion. Since most produce a remarkable variety of types (and therefore labels), make sure to check each winery website through links found here.

Wine-By-Cougars (the official wine club of Washington State University) celebrates the impact that Cougs have made on the wine industry. WBC also supports student scholarships for the viticulture and enology program, and the wine business management program.

You can learn more and become a member of Wine-By-Cougars by going to the WBC website. There … » More …

Wine glass splashing with smoke. Photo Dreamstime
Summer 2018

Smoke gets in your wine

Smoke truly gets under the skin of wine grapes.

As microscopic particles and liquid droplets ooze and eddy through the vineyard, grapes are coated with toxic chemicals. Worse, smoke from forest and range fires manages to get into the plant itself, wreaking havoc with the plant’s internal chemistry.

In self-defense, grape vines attempt to sequester toxic smoke particles that infiltrate berries and leaves by binding sugar molecules to the offending invaders. The plant can then metabolically shuffle the sugar-trapped particles into places where the smoke won’t be as harmful to the vines’ mission: produce grapes and reproduce.

Humans interfere with the vines’ mission when we … » More …

Microbes in soil
Winter 2017

The microbe whisperers

Tarah Sullivan is fiercely insistent that we are all interconnected. The Washington State University soil microbiologist and ecologist says that understanding those connections is key to a healthy future.

“I know it sounds a little hokey,” the mother of two daughters apologizes without backing down: “Microorganisms connect everything everyday in every way. We absolutely could not survive on the planet without active and healthy microbiomes, in humans and in the environment.”

Sullivan’s work focuses on how microbial communities in soil impact heavy metal biogeochemistry. Many metals are important micronutrients for both plants and animals—but too much of a good thing can make plants sick. … » More …

First Words
Summer 2017

Left turns

I recently learned that drivers for UPS make 90 percent of their turns to the right. Since 2004, the package delivery company has had a policy to avoid left turns. They save millions of gallons of fuel and dollars each year because there’s less idling.

While I applaud the UPS effort to save gas and reduce emissions, there’s still something adventurous about the left turn, the unexpected veer in a new direction. We often refer to a left turn as a complete shift in our lives. Some of us even change our entire careers, such as Washington State University alumni Berenice Burdet, Richard Larsen, and … » More …

grape vine illustration
Summer 2017

Hanging a left at wine

The allure of winemaking has attracted a menagerie of professionals to the business. Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program has lured aerospace engineers, Army medics, apparel designers, scientists, and many others to the field. Here, we bring you a few of the stories of those who have changed careers by hanging a left at wine.

After years of dissecting rat brains, Berenice Burdet had had enough.

The Argentinian neuroscientist was untangling stress’s web of physiological effects on the hippocampus. The stress we feel in a crammed subway train, Burdet says, affects our behavior by dampening affect. We become depressed, and activity levels decline. … » More …