Agricultural Sciences

Penn State Extension names Molly Kelly enologist

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension has appointed a new enology extension educator to continue and enhance its support for Pennsylvania's growing wine industry.

Molly Kelly, who started work on Feb. 1 at Penn State's University Park campus, will address the technical needs of the Pennsylvania wine industry and lead educational programming focusing on wine quality.

Kelly also will conduct applied research and educational programs for commercial winemakers and work closely with researchers in the Food Science and Plant Science departments. In addition, she will perform on-site evaluations of winemaking operations to keep winemakers up to date on production and best practices.

Formerly the enology extension specialist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia, Kelly also held the position of enology instructor at Surry Community College in Dobson, North Carolina.

There, she developed the enology curriculum and managed all aspects of the college's 1,000-case-capacity bonded winery. Under her direction, Surry produced numerous international award-winning wines.

Prior to her position at Surry, Kelly was a biodefense team microbiologist with the New York State Department of Health.

She has led workshops in winery sanitation, filtration, microscopy, wine analysis and berry sensory analysis, among other topics. Her research has focused on the effect of nitrogen and sulfur applications on Petit Manseng wine aroma and flavor. Kelly's current research includes a preharvest, on-the-vine dehydration study in collaboration with Virginia Tech University.

"I am looking forward to working with the burgeoning wine industry in Pennsylvania and serving its needs," she said. "As a Pennsylvania native, I am excited to be back home to assist wineries in identifying opportunities and challenges while focusing on quality improvement."

Kelly earned an associate degree in viticulture and enology from Surry Community College, a bachelor's degree in medical technology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a doctoral degree in food science and technology from Virginia Tech. She is a member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture.

"Molly Kelly is an experienced enologist and educator, and her appointment is part of Penn State Extension's commitment to a growing industry," said Dennis Calvin, director of Penn State Extension. "Winemaking is an increasingly important part of the state's agriculture." 

Support for the extension enologist position comes from the Pennsylvania Winery Association, the state Wine Marketing Research Board and the college.

Kelly is located in the Department of Food Science, 327 Erickson Food Science Building, University Park, and can be reached at 814-865-6840 or by email at

Molly Kelly will address the technical needs of the Pennsylvania wine industry and lead educational programming focusing on wine quality. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated February 22, 2018