Wine fermentation lab opens at Texas A&M
The dedication and opening of the Arthur and Gaye Platt Wine Fermentation Laboratory was held recently in College Station and will be housed in the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Horticultural Sciences.
“This is such a great day for us as we are able to take a giant leap forward in terms of our enology and winemaking program,” said Dan Lineberger, Ph.D., Head, Department of Horticultural Sciences.
With 40 years of support, the Platt family has had a major impact on the wine industry of Texas. As members and leaders in the Knights of the Vine organization, the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and staunch supporters of the Texas A&M enology and winemaking program, the Platts helped shape what is known as the Texas wine industry. Where there were only 25 wineries in the state in 1995, Texas now boasts over 500 wineries.
With Platt family support and drive, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo organized a wine-tasting competition, which is now a well-known and prized competition to win, explained George Ray McEachern, Ph.D., professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist. He said whereas Texas wine was once a novelty, it now ranks with the best in the world, and much of that was with support from the Platt family.
“Texas A&M is the origin of the Texas wine industry,” McEachern said. “Gaye Platt is the champion who moved Texas wine into Houston, and she is the person who made October Texas wine month. All of this started with Arthur and Gaye Platt.
“Gaye Platt, for all that you do, we are really proud. For Texas A&M, the Department of Horticultural Sciences and AgriLife Extension, we want to make this special recognition to you.”
With that, McEachern revealed a plaque reading, “Dedicated and opened on Oct. 19, 2019, in recognition and appreciation of 40 years of support and leadership for the Texas wine industry through the Texas A&M Extension, Research and Teaching programs in the Department of Horticultural Sciences. Their vision and positive appreciation for the future of Texas wine was a guiding light for all of the early growers, winemakers and Aggie faculty.”
“Thank you to all who are here,” said Gaye Platt. “Thank you to the University, the board and to my buddy, George Ray McEachern, for allowing this to happen. We are so appreciative. And on behalf of the Platt family, we are very honored.”
The lab will be home to Andrea Botezatu, Ph.D., professor and AgriLife Extension enologist. Botezatu is a full-time enologist teaching a wine class on campus as well as teaching graduate students and conducting her own research and Extension program on wine.
“We have about 30 students coming in each year to the enology course,” Botezatu said. “We have processing equipment here where we teach students how to process grapes, and we needed a better space for that. This lab was built for that. We can do a lot more research with our students. This is an optimal space for what we are doing.”
— By Laura Muntean, Texas A&M University