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Introducing Molly Kelly

Virginia wine Molly Kelly

Meet Molly Kelly, Virginia Tech’s new Extension Specialist.

Meet Molly Kelly, who came on board Virginia Tech in late December 2012 as the new Extension Specialist. Her job is to develop and implement an Extension program for Virginia grape and wine producers through educational programs and applied research. Her mission is to provide a bridge between vineyard practices and wine production practices that directly impact wine quality.

Dr. Bruce Zoecklein, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, retired in 2010, and agreed to continue on a part-time basis until an appropriate replacement could be found. Given the tremedous growth in the wine trade in the Commonwealth over the past several years, the school determined that two new people should be engaged: one to teach and do research in enology, and one devoted full time to enology extension. Molly won the Extension position and was hired on December 25.

Her initial outreach to Virginia wineries consisted of a survey to gain insight into topics of greatest concern, including wine/berry composition, fermentation, fining and stability, aging, technology, bottling, and sensory evaluation.

Virginia wine Dr. Bruce Zoecklein

Dr. Bruce Zoecklein. Photo courtesy of Eastern Winery Expo.

Molly is working on a PhD in Food Science under Dr. Zoecklein. Her research focuses on the characterization of the aroma composition of Petit Manseng. She has appeared before the Virginia Vineyards Association at the winter program as well as the February meeting in Charlottesville. Molly is a member of ASEV.

Prior to coming to Virginia, Molly served as Enology Instructor at Surry Community College in Dobson, NC. During her five-year tenure there, she developed the enology curriculum and managed the on-site bonded winery. Under her direction the college produced numerous international, award winning wines. Prior to her position at Surry, Molly was a biodefense team microbiologist with the New York State Department of Health. She has also lived in Texas where she worked in the medical field.

Molly can be reached for technical assistance at 540-231-9843 or by email at

Dr. Zoecklein will remain in his current position until July 2013. His Enology Notes will continue intermittently and will be authored by him, Molly, and others. The second position for research and teaching is currently being advertised. Information on this position is available at