In 1935, he joined the faculty at the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Department. He was Chairman of the department from 1957-1962. Amerine was fluent in 7 languages, allowing him to thoroughly study and analyze European research on grape growing and winemaking.
Amerine was pivotal in the renaissance of California’s wine industry in the years immediately following Prohibition. Under a provision of the Volstead Act, a limited amount of grapes could be used to make wine at home. Only thick skinned varietals could survive being shipped to winemakers around the country. Many of the state’s best vines were uprooted when the 18th amendment was in effect. Maynard Amerine did much to stem this tide.
After Prohibition, many wineries were not cleaning their facilities properly and were using haphazard winemaking practices. Great wines were produced, but they were often more the result of fortunate circumstance rather than objective planning and execution. Amerine worked to introduce quality methods that were also economically feasible.
He developed standards for individual styles of wine from different regions. He always emphasized that everyone has unique tastes and that you should not buy what an expert likes, but what you like.
Amerine officially retired in 1974, but continued to write as well as mentor many of California vintners. He published over 400 works during his lifetime covering such topics as the science of judging wines, pigment in wines, the aging process, the production process, and tasting wine. Along with Albert Winkler, Amerine wrote the widely accepted method of measuring a region’s climate based on the heat summation scale.