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GEO 03 W — The Geology and Wines of California and France

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Feb 8—Mar 19
Drop Deadline: Feb 11
Unit: 1
Tuition: $390
Instructor(s): David G. Howell, Douglas Posson
Limit: 65
Status: Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Winter
Flex Online(About Formats)
Date(s)
Feb 8—Mar 19
6 weeks
Drop By
Feb 11
1 Unit
Fees
$390
Instructor(s):
David G. Howell, Douglas Posson
Limit
65
Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
This course is designed for curious people who enjoy wine, especially wine from California and France, and would like to learn more about it. We will examine the connection between wines and their terroir—the complete natural environment in which a wine is produced—and learn why “place” and its geologic history—along with the grapes, their viticulture, the climate, and the winemaker’s skills—are all crucial to the characteristics of wines. We will explore the geologic setting of wine regions in California and France and, with comparative tastings, form the basis for understanding why certain grapes seem to prosper and others do not. As we delve into the geologic history of wine country, we will also learn about the geography, the wines, the names, and the history of numerous wine regions in California and France. By the end of the course, we will have gained a better understanding of why wines are a reflection of “place” and have firsthand knowledge of many of the tastes that result. Our tastings will compare both Old World (France) and New World (California) wines: Burgundy and California’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; Loire varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc; northern and southern Rhône wines such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and ten others; plus Bordeaux blends from California and France made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varietals.

To participate in tasting discussions, students will spend approximately $160–$200 on Californian and French wines. Students will taste the wines in advance of the optional online videoconferencing sessions (which will be recorded and posted). During these sessions, students will compare notes with the instructors and invited winemakers to discuss their experiences with the terroir, grape varieties, winemaking styles, and taste sensations.

David G. Howell, Former Research Geologist, US Geological Survey

David G. Howell is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America. He has been working with Napa Valley vintners for more than thirty years and is the co-author of The Winemaker’s Dance: Exploring Terroir in the Napa Valley. Along with Doug Posson, Howell leads wine and geology tours in California and France. After retiring from the US Geological Survey, Howell was an adjunct professor in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences from 2005 to 2009. He received a PhD from UC Santa Barbara and has authored more than 150 scientific articles.

Douglas Posson, Owner, Hexagonvins; Former Regional Director, US Geological Survey

Douglas Posson gathers and compiles data and information on wines. He is a co-founder of the US Global Change Research Program, and led the US Geological Survey’s Arctic data team that received the Presidential Design Achievement Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Visiting France annually for the past thirty-five years, he has explored the geography, terroir, food, and especially the wines, in Alsace, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Champagne, the Rhône, Provence, Languedoc, Roussillon, the Loire, the Southwest, and Bordeaux.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, The World Atlas of Wine, 8th Ed. (ISBN 978-1784726188)
(Required) Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible (ISBN 978-0761180838)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)