Campus winery celebrates 10 years of history, awards

Vicente Reyes / The Collegian

Fresno State, the first college campus in the nation to open a commercial winery, celebrated the 10-year anniversary mark on Saturday at the winery.

Professors, students, and many guests shared stories and drank their favorite Fresno State wines.

As guests walked in, there was a table set up showcasing a few of the many awards that were won by Fresno State wines. The room was filled with people enjoying a free wine tasting, while different professors gave speeches about the numerous accomplishments and progress that the winery has made.

Dr. Robert Wample, chair of the viticulture and enology department and director of the Viticulture and Enology Research Center, said that the winery was developed to give students an educational program through winemaking.

Viticulture is the study of grapes, and enology is the study of winemaking. Wample said the program consists of three enterprise aspects that are mainly run by student involvement. The picking of grapes and the processing of raisins are the two beginning parts. The third is the winery enterprise itself.

Wample said the department of viticulture and enology, combined with the Viticulture and Enology Research Center and the University Ag Laboratory, make up the three major components of the winemaking program.

Vicente Reyes / The Collegian

“We are unique in that we have all three of those components within this program,” Wample said. “No other program on campus or anywhere else that I’m aware of has anything similar.”

Through the years, the addition of more tanks, pumps, a wine barrel and a wine press have allowed the program to enhance and grow. New technologies that will be introduced will become a standard part of the industry, adding to the education of students.

“A student who comes here and invests themselves in the process will leave here as an outstanding winemaker,” Wample said.

Dan Rotlisberger, majoring in both viticulture and enology, said that he came to Fresno for the opportunity to be out in the vineyard instead of learning in a classroom. Students are able to learn about the insects and irrigation systems in the field and how they affect the grape growing and wine making process.

“The hands-on separates this program from any other school,” Rotlisberger said.

According to the department of viticulture and enology Web site, upcoming events for the Fresno State Winery include the Le Vin Nouveau wine tasting on Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the winery, and a pruning and sustainable production workshop on Dec. 7.

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