Wine wizard was driving force behind Cal Poly's viticulture program

One of the driving forces behind Cal Poly’s highly respected Wine and Viticulture program, Keith Patterson, died March 21 at the age of 66.

Patterson had a 16-year career at Cal Poly until taking semi-retirement last spring to battle cancer. He died under hospice care at his Santa Margarita home surrounded by family.

A man of the earth who easily integrated classroom and field instruction, Patterson was popular with faculty and students alike.

Jim Shumate, a former colleague and winemaker with Pomar Junction Vinyard & Winery in Templeton, told the trade publication Wines & Vines upon learning of Patterson’s death: “He shared his vast knowledge unselfishly with all of those who came in touch with him. His great sense of humor, his love of teaching and his impact on the wine industry will be only a few of the things that he will be remembered for.”

Patterson earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in marketing and horticulture from the University of Arkansas; he completed his doctorate at the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 1985.

Wine and Viticulture program director Jim Cooper told Wines & Vines, “Without Keith, the program wouldn’t be where it is today. He was instrumental in getting the (program’s) minor approved in 1999 and the major in 2004. He was the catalyst.”

Student evaluations of Patterson, a golfer, camper and vegetable gardener when out of the classroom, were nearly unanimous in their praise.

“Keith’s passion for viticulture teaching and research, and for life, had an enormous impact on countless individuals throughout the wine industry,” Cooper told the Mustang Daily. “He will be missed for generations to come.”

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