Supporting Clean Grapevines

Oct 31, 2016 Diane Nelson
Foundation Plant Services receives gift to create endowed chair.
Supporting Clean Grapevines

John Dyson with Dave Rizzo and Deborah Golino in the background as grape-grower Dyson announces $500,000 contribution to Foundation Plant Services endowment

You need excellent grapes to make world-class wine.

John Dyson, owner of Williams Selyem Winery, lives by that principal.

“Our motto has always been to make the best wine from the best grapes from the best growers,” said Dyson, who along with his wife, Kathe, owns the winery in Healdsburg, California. “Growers need virus-free grapevines to produce the best grapes from healthy vines.”

Scientists at UC Davis Foundation Plant Services have been distributing virus-tested, professionally identified grapevine, fruit, and nut-tree propagation stock to horticultural nurseries since 1958. In his ongoing commitment to agricultural stewardship and clean grapevine materials, Dyson has given $500,000 to help create an endowed chair for Foundation Plant Services.

Deborah Golino, John Dyson and Helene Dillard gather at Foundation Plant Services.
“I am giving this gift to honor the deanship of my friend, Helene Dillard, and to recognize Deborah Golino, director of Foundation Plant Services, who has taken on a challenging position and has instituted rigorous science to give wineries clean vines,” Dyson said.

 A New York native, Dyson worked closely with Dean Dillard when she was director of Cooperative Extension and a plant pathology professor at Cornell University, where she
worked until coming to UC Davis in 2014. Dyson’s relationship with Foundation Plant Services dates back to 1982 when he purchased cuttings for “a nickel apiece” to plant his first vineyards. Since then, Dyson has relied on scientists like Golino to provide healthy, virus-free planting material and to help tackle grower challenges, such as plant and soil disease.

Dyson’s gift is the first toward a larger $1.5 million campaign. Ultimately, the endowed chair will serve as director of Foundation Plant Services and become faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology.

“This is an incredible investment in our program,” Golino said. “An endowed chair will ensure UC Davis will always be able to recruit a top scientist to lead Foundation Plant Services and continue to provide exceptional plant materials to the grape, fruit and nut-tree, rose, strawberry, and other industries that rely on us.”

For more information about making a gift to the endowed chair, contact Christine Schmidt, assistant dean of college advancement, at [email protected]

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