Gavin Sacks

Associate Professor

343 Stocking Hall
(607) 592-1504

My research and teaching interests are in understanding the enological and viticultural parameters that shape wine flavor from vine to bottle. I am actively involved in the development of the Research and Teaching components of the new Enology and Viticulture program at Cornell.

Research Focus

The Sacks lab studies the effects of pre- and post-harvest factors on the organoleptic properties (flavor; color) of agricultural products, particularly wines and juices. The lab is also at the forefront of developing new rapid and sensitive analytical techniques for measurement of flavor compounds, particularly those based on ambient-ionization mass spectrometry

Outreach and Extension Focus

Although I do not have a formal extension appointment, there is considerable overlap of my research and teaching interests with the practical problems of the statewide/regional wine and grape industries. I am a regular participant at winemaking workshops and industry technical conferences in New York State and elsewhere in the US.

Teaching Focus

I am currently Director of Undergraduate Studies and chair of the undergraduate teaching committee for the interdisciplinary enology and viticulture major (VIEN).

I also teach two courses as part of the VIEN major, cross-listed with Food Science (FDSC)
- Wines & Grapes: Analysis and Composition (FDSC 2400 / VIEN 2400, 3 cr) – intermediate-level undergraduate course on common and emerging analytical practices in the grape and wine industries
- Wine & Grape Flavor Chemistry (FDSC 4400 / VIEN 4400, 3 cr) – upper level course on flavor chemistry, primarily through the lens of wine

Finally, I oversee the undergraduate viticulture and enology Capstone Experience through VIEN 4000.

Awards and Honors

  • 2014 Best Viticulture Paper in American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (2015) American Society of Enology and Viticulture

Selected Publications

Journal Publications


  • Waterhouse, A. L., Sacks, G. L., & Jeffery, D. W. (2016). Understanding Wine Chemistry. John Wiley & Sons (ed.),, Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom.

Presentations and Activities

  • The perception of Riesling varietal character: the role of 2,2,1-trimethy-dihydronapthalene (TDN). Weurman Flavor Science Symposium. September 2011. Ad Hoc committee. Zaragoza, Spain.
  • History Of Cornell Enology Outreach. New York Wine Industry Workshop. April 2011. Cornell University.
  • Defining Typicity in Cool Climate Rieslings. Wine Active Compounds. March 2010. UNESCO Chair of Wine and Culture. Beaune, Burgundy, France.