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Faculty Recognition

Enology professor awarded prestigious Italian certification

Professor in Wine and Viticulture Department is one of 240 Italian Wine Ambassadors in the world

Federico Casassa, associate professor of enology in Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture Department, was named an Italian Wine Ambassador by Vinitaly International Academy — making him one of only 240 such ambassadors in the world today.  A man wearing a black face mask and a suit jacket pins a pin on the shirt of a younger man wearing a black face mask.

Casassa, who has taught winemaking since he arrived at the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences in 2015, sought the certification to broaden his knowledge of the diversity of Italian wines.

 “We live in a global world, and our students need to be exposed to the broadest possible array of aspects of the wine industry,” Casassa said.

In June Casassa was part of a group of 67 who attended a series of practical sessions in Verona, Italy. The students were exposed over four consecutive days to about 155 wines that are considered benchmarks of the most important appellations, or Italy’s formal grape-growing areas, from the island of Sicily at the foot of Italy, north to Valle D’ Aosta, an area in the Italian Alps known as much for mountaineering as for its top-quality DOC-label wines. The exam included 100 multiple choice questions, two short essays, a video lecture (prepared in advance) and a blind tasting of two wines. 

“Obtaining the certification opens the door to network or connect with producers that you would not have access to otherwise,” Casassa said. “Meeting them face-to-face allowed me to see their reality, experience their methods of production, and taste their wines. I can now procure some of these wines and teach them in my sensory class and incorporate new winemaking techniques to both my research and teaching efforts.”