UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 8 | June
Wine Research Centre hopes to fill the shelves of its new library
with the world's best vintages.
By Michelle Cook
When UBC's newest library is completed in early July, you won't
be able to borrow anything from it. But if you've got some fine
wine you'd like to lend, you can check it in.
Nine months ago, the Wine Library was an old storage room in the
basement of the Nutritional Sciences Bldg. Now hidden behind a solid
oak door and protected by an elaborate security system, the space
houses the B.C. Chapter of the Canadian Wine Library, a temperature
and humidity controlled facility where up to 20,000 locally produced
wines will be kept. Another section, the Vinotheque, will hold up
to 8,000 bottles of the world's finest wines. There is also a tasting
room built with a donation from the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.
The facility, part of the Faculty of Agricultural Science's Wine
Research Centre (WRC), is the second of its kind in Canada (the
first is at Brock University) but it will be the first in the world
to conduct wine research on a large scale, in collaboration with
universities in other well-established wine growing regions.
The library will be used by researchers to study and compare how
wines age. The analysis will help B.C. vintners to improve their
growing techniques and the quality of their wines, in order to compete
in the international marketplace.
"There is very little known about B.C. wines' ability to age,
and nothing is known about wine making and grape growing practices
in the Okanagan and how they affect the aging potential of the wines
produced here," says WRC director Prof. Hennie van Vuuren,
who founded both the UBC and Brock wine libraries.
"We'll use science to help growers to find the right sites
to plant certain grape varietals, and maximize the Okanagan Valley's
potential to produce outstanding cool climate wines."
The challenge now is to fill the library's stacks. The industry
has been responding well to van Vuuren's requests for contributions,
and he welcomes donations from private collectors. Later this year,
the WRC is holding a Chardonnay of the Century Million Dollar Challenge
to build a unique database of Chardonnay wines from vintners worldwide.
All the wines in the library will be opened over a period of years
and chemically analysed. They will be tasted by faculty members,
library board members and, van Vuuren assures, students, too.
Although some outstanding wines have already been donated, van
Vuuren's wish list includes a few bottles of Petrus and Chateau
Margaux from France.
For more information on the Wine Research Centre visit www.agsci.ubc.ca/wine
and for more information on the Chardonnay of the Century Million
Dollar Challenge visit www.chardonnayofthecentury.com.