Nestled in a small corner of Nelson Hall of Food Science's basement is a beautifully furnished, cave-shaped room best described as a wine cellar.
The Richard P. Vine Enology Library, as it's officially called, was built in 1999 using a donation from Forest Glen Winery in Sonoma, Calif. Fred Franzia, the winery's owner, wanted the Indiana Wine Grape Council to use the library to promote wine education, says Jill Blume, enology specialist for the Purdue Wine Grape Team.
The library contains about 2,000 bottles of wine, most of which were collected by the library's namesake, who is a professor emeritus of food science and a friend of Franzia. Purdue's first enologist, Vine received the wine during the 1990s while he served as the wine consultant for American Airlines. During the 21 years he held that position, Vine traveled the world visiting wineries and sampling wine.
The library also contains Vine's collection of more than 1,000 books about wine and wine making, Blume says. One highlight is an 1829 printing of a book titled "The Vine Dresser," signed by author John James Dufour, a prominent Indiana winemaker during that time period.
Blume says the library's primary purpose is to engage its visitors and to deliver the latest scientific and promotional wine-grape information.
"The library's wine comes from wineries across Indiana as well as from places in France, Italy, Spain, South America and a host of others," Blume says. "We want those who visit the library to get a great sense of these wines' international origins, as well as to experience the kind of wine produced in our own state."
In addition to displaying wine, the library on occasion hosts tastings, receptions and dinners for small groups, Blume says. Food science classes also have met in the library, which seats about 25 comfortably and is not open for public use.
Some of the wines in the library have won awards at the Indy International Wine Competition, an event that Vine helped establish and that is held on campus every year in August. The largest independent wine competition in the U.S., the event typically draws nearly 3,000 entries from 15 countries and 40 U.S. states and is coordinated by the Purdue Wine Grape Team, Blume says.
The Purdue Wine Grape Team also offers a wine appreciation class through the Department of Food Science. The largest class in the College of Agriculture, the class educates about 600 students each year.
Additionally, the Purdue Wine Grape Team makes experimental wine and creates wine grape-related publications to support Hoosier vintners and the Indiana Wine Grape Council, which is a consortium of grape growers, winemakers and academicians.
Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by: Mark Simon