Skip to main content
Cornelius Steven Ough
In Memoriam

Cornelius Steven Ough

Professor of Viticulture and Enology, Emeritus

UC Davis

Cornelius Ough (“Corny” to his friends) was born July 28th, 1925 in Napa, CA and grew up in Colfax attending Placer High School and Placer Junior College before graduating from UC Berkeley with a BS in Chemistry in 1950. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, from 1951 to 1953, and was based in Camp Gordon, GA (where he met his wife Anne) and later in Stockton, CA. He began his University career as the laboratory technician for Professor Maynard Amerine in 1950 and after his military service became his research assistant. In 1957 he accepted an appointment as Enologist in the Experiment Station even though Robert Mondavi had offered him a position at the Charles Krug Winery. He worked in that role for many years, completing an MS in Food Science in 1971 before being appointed to a faculty position in the Department of Viticulture and Enology in 1972. He received a D.Sc. from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 1974. Corny and Anne were gracious hosts for many international students and visitors in their home, often for weeks after their arrival. Their daughters Francie and Liz were an important part of Corny’s life. Even while Anne was ill and after her death, Corny continued to host student and faculty get-togethers.

Cornelius’ research interests ranged from general production aspects of red wines, sparkling wine and flor sherry, controlled fermentation, and browning in white wines, to the influence of pesticides, rootstocks, clones and mechanical harvesting on wine composition. His work on the chemical analysis of wine composition included the determination of dissolved oxygen, the use of sulfur dioxide, sorbic acid and diethyl dicarbonate as well as levels of histamines and metals in wines. He taught the Wine Analysis course for many years, which introduced and trained students in analyses that were commonly used in the wine industry.

Corny directed many graduate student research projects. He was a prolific writer with more than 200 papers and book chapters. He shared the 1990 OIV Prize in Oenology for the second edition of the text Wine and Must Analysis that he coauthored with Professor Amerine. He was a co-author of the 4th edition of The Technology of Winemaking and published his own book, Winemaking Basics in 1990.

He travelled to Israel in 1965 and to Brazil in 1976 under United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization programs. Cornelius served as Chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology from 1981 to 1988. His career at UC Davis spanned from 1950 to his retirement in 1990.

He served as a Board member, Treasurer, first and second Vice President and then as President of American Society of Enology and Viticulture in 1980. He was a reviewer for several scientific journals and an advisor to the Wine Technical Committee of the Wine Institute. He was recognized by the Medical Friends of Wine in 1983 with an award for Outstanding Medical Research Relating to Wine.  He was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Chemists in 1987 and a member of the Academie Italiana della Vite e del Vino, Siena, Italy in 1988.

Corny was characterized by a quiet appearance and reserved nature, which belied a strong determination and work ethic.

In 1994 he remarried and moved to Auburn with his wife Sally who had been his high school sweetheart. There, he and Sally continued to entertain friends and people in the wine industry at annual gatherings.

Linda Bisson
Ann Noble
Roger Brett Boulton