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1/25/12 - National authority visiting MSU to discuss geology of winemaking

Besides the winemaker and vineyard management techniques, what makes Mississippi-made wines different from those of California's Napa Valley or even in Italy or France?

A national authority on the relationship of geology, soils, climate, and wine-production will explain the interaction of these factors during a Feb. 3 visit to Mississippi State University.

The presentation by Scott Burns, a professor of geology specializing in environmental and engineering geology at Portland State University, is titled "The Mystery of Terroir--the Relationship of Geology, Soils, and Climate to Wine."

Open to all, the noon program in 102 Harned Hall will be followed by a reception in the building's main entrance and lobby. MSU's student chapter of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists is sponsoring the event.

A word with French origins, "terroir" relates to characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place give particular varieties of wine.

Burns will use examples from Oregon's Willamette Valley to help show the results of different geological factors related to winemaking. Strongly influenced by bedrock geology and soils, wine in the region is very different depending on those factors.

At Portland State, Burns serves as the 2011-12 Richard H. Jahns Lecturer, a position co-sponsored by the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists and Geological Society of America's engineering geology division.

He completed bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford University and a doctorate from the University of Colorado. In addition to teaching and research, he also has served as a consultant, an expert witness in legal cases and investigator of sites suitable for vineyards.

Darrel Schmitz, head of the university's geosciences department, said Burns' career achievements provide an excellent example of the diverse work experiences of a professional geologist.

"All areas of the geosciences can be involved, as well as many other areas such as soil science," added Schmitz, who also is adviser for the sponsoring student organization.

For more information on the program, contact Schmitz at 662-325-2904 or; or Bo Cherry, president of the MSU AEG chapter, at

Robbie S. Ward | University Relations

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