Cal Poly Pours Wine at the Historic California Wine Symposium and Trade Mission in Cuba


February 25, 2016

Contact: AnnMarie Cornejo
Cal Poly Pours Wine at the Historic California Wine Symposium and Trade Mission in Cuba
Cal Poly wine and viticulture Professor Marianne McGarry Wolf helped make history in February by joining other California vintners at the first wine symposium of its kind in Havana, Cuba.
Wolf joined about 100 other Californian vintners at the California Wine Symposium from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3. Cal Poly was the only university represented at the symposium. The exposition, coordinated by U.S. Cava Exports, was intended to pave the way for the export of California wines to Cuba.
“Exporting wine to Cuba will represent a new export market for California wines,” said Wolf, who added that wines typically served in Cuba now are from South America and Europe.
The symposium included a grand tasting at Havana’s historic Hotel Palco Convention Center. While pouring wines, Wolf shared with Cuban sommeliers, distributers and restaurant owners that Cal Poly engages students with hands-on learning in the three key areas of the wine industry: growing the grapes, making the wine, and marketing it.
“The Cubans were very interested to learn that our students engage in Learn by Doing,” Wolf said. “There was a buzz of excitement that could be felt at the Cal Poly table as Cubans brought their colleagues to taste our wines and learn about our wine and viticulture major.”
Cal Poly’s impact did not stop at the Cal Poly tasting table. Cal Poly alumni were well represented at The Cuba Wine Symposium. Alumni Joan Kautz of Kautz Family Vineyards, Jennifer Lamb of Herb Lamb Vineyards, and Dante Pozzan of Pozzan Wines all poured their wines at the grand tasting, as did Stewart and Christiane Spoto of Spoto Wines, whose daughter Arianna recently graduated from Cal Poly.
Another Cal Poly alumnus, Steve Burns of O’Donnel Lane, helped organize the event. In addition, alumna Linda Reiff represented Napa Valley Vintners. Other Cal Poly connections at the event included Cakebread Cellars whose president is a Cal Poly alum, E. & J. Gallo Winery and Wente Family Estates, which both have family members who graduated from Cal Poly.
California vintners learned from Cuban government officials and U.S. Embassy representatives about trade policies and procedures and how to navigate the complex process of exporting wines to Cuba.
“It was quite emotional to learn that an American flag, which had not been flown in Cuba since 1961, was flown at the event,” said Wolf.
U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Jeffrey DeLaurentis visited the grand tasting and gave a briefing at his home for the members of the symposium. The California wine group was among the first U.S. trade groups to visit the ambassador’s residence in more than 50 years.
Plans are underway for additional educational events to promote California wine to the Cuban market. 
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