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Chemistry behind winemaking focus of seminar with N.C. vintner

March 26, 2007

Marek Wojciechowski, owner of Chatham Hill Winery in Morrisville, near Cary, and a winemaker, will lead a Wake Forest University chemistry department-sponsored seminar at 4 p.m. March 28 on the science behind winemaking.  The free, public event will be held in Salem Hall, Room 10.

Robert Swofford, a chemistry professor and organizer of the event, said growth in wine production in North Carolina makes this an important time to expose students to the industry, particularly the chemistry behind winemaking.

"Wake Forest is the only major university within the Yadkin Valley AVA, the only officially designated American Viticultural Area in North Carolina,” Swofford said.  “As such, there is a significant opportunity to become involved in this important economic force in the state.”

According to, the official Web site for the state wine and grape council, the number of wineries in North Carolina grew from 21 in 2000 to more than 50 in 2005.

Although Wojciechowski does not produce wine in the Yadkin Valley, his unique science background makes him an excellent choice to lead a seminar at Wake Forest.

Wojciechowski holds a doctorate in analytical chemistry from Warsaw University in Poland, and he taught chemistry at universities in Poland, Maryland and New York for more than 15 years.

Chatham Hill wines have earned medals in several prestigious wine competitions, including gold from the American Wine Society’s International Wine Competition and a gold for its Viognier from the Grand Harvest Awards in Sonoma County.

Wojciechowski was a vice president for research and development from 2001 to 2005 at Alderon Biosciences in Durham.  He received several technology patents for tests and devices for clinical and molecular diagnostics including a blood lead test and various DNA and RNA tests.

He was instrumental in developing a field test for Pierce’s Disease, a devastating disease that attacks grape vines in the Southeast, including parts of North Carolina.  The handheld device allows grape growers to identify infected vines directly in the vineyard before the disease spreads out of control and destroys the vineyard.

A wine tasting of wines from Chatham Hill will take place after the seminar in Salem Hall, Room 210.  The tasting will be open to chemistry faculty, chemistry graduate students and undergraduate chemistry majors who are of legal drinking age.

Press Contacts:

Jacob McConnico
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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