Published on 04/02/09

New professorship supports Georgia wine industry

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

Georgia’s wine industry is growing fast, tripling its acreage in just the past five years. To provide the industry with the research and outreach it needs, the University of Georgia is expanding programs in viticulture and enology, the science of grape growing and wine making. The expansion includes a new endowed professorship.

Georgia’s 2007 grape crop alone was worth $10 million. Georgia’s 26 wineries generate $41 million per year and provide 430 jobs throughout the state’s economy.

Its rapid growth has created a critical need for research scientists, a trained workforce and regional outreach efforts, said J. Scott Angle, dean and director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“It is our job, as a land-grant university, to provide cutting edge research, sound economic development advice, outreach training and classroom education to support the emerging industries in Georgia,” Angle said.

Fund-raising festival

To help get the professorship started, the college will host a fund-raising event. “An Alfresco Evening on the River” will be June 11 and will feature great food from local chefs, wine and entertainment at the home of Richard and Sherri Smith in Atlanta.

“As we see new issues and opportunities arise in the state, we move as swiftly as we can to meet the need,” Angle said. “This professorship will give us a prime opportunity to help foster this new industry in Georgia.”

“This event will begin a campaign to raise funds for a $250,000 endowment to support this important new professorship,” said Martha Ezzard, a member of the CAES Advisory Council and one of the co-chairs of the event along with Carla Fackler and Donna Masinter.

Industry support

This position will work with industry leaders to address research needs, to engage world-renowned wine makers and grape growers and to boost agri-tourism in Georgia.

“A first-class academic program in viticulture and enology with extensive internship opportunities will help today’s CAES students become the leaders of the Georgia wine industry tomorrow,” Ezzard said. She and her husband, John, have hosted interns at their Tiger Mountain Vineyards for the past two summers.

The event will be 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $150 each, $300 per couple or $1,350 for a group of 10. To purchase tickets, call the CAES Office of College Advancement at (706) 542-3390, or go online at

(Faith Peppers is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.