Winery interns learn on the job


Fresno State students Cole Dennis and Shane Vetter add sulfur dioxide, a wine preservative, to the freshly barreled wine. Photo Julian Paredes

The Fresno State Winery produces more than 8,000 cases of wine each year – in a year-round operation that involves Fresno State students taking hands-on roles in the production process.

The winery helps serve as a laboratory component for students in the department of viticulture and enology.

Fresno State student Cole Dennis, a winery intern, is a part of the hands-on process that complements the classroom learning.

“There is a major and dedicated effort to make sure that we as students are prepped for the kind of job that we will be performing in the industry as a wine maker,” Dennis said.

Interns such as Dennis are involved in wine-grape research and vineyard consultations. Interns receive and sort grapes – part of the initial steps in the lengthy wine-making process – and make sure that the machines function properly. The wine is racked, barreled for about a year and then bottled and prepared for the store shelves.

“From receiving the grapes to bottling the grapes, that’s what we’re involved in – the whole nine yards of the process,” said Dennis, who balances 12-hour days on campus between the classroom and the winery when school is in session.

Cole and the other wine-making interns learn the procedures from the assistant winemakers, who are tasked with overseeing the operations.

“There are always students trying to learn, so that’s one way it is done,” said Shayne Vetter, an assistant winemaker and Fresno State alumnus. “I am there to guide the students in how to do it.”