Homework: Drink 2 bottles of chardonnay

by Marco Buscagila

College Press Service

FRESNO, Calif. -- Fresno State students sometimes get a little sip of wine during class. That's not to say they're carrying bottles in their backpacks. It's just that for these students, an occasional taste of wine is just part of the curriculum.

Since 1960, California State University at Fresno has trained people in the wine industry through its enology program. And with a new winery set to open soon, Fresno State students will get to create, bottle and sell their own wine. Fresno State will become the first school in the nation to offer a student-created commercial wine.

"It's going to be a great opportunity," said Ken Fugelsang, an enology professor and resident winemaster. "Students will get to use a state-of-the-art facility to learn the skills of their craft."

"Students here learn everything from choosing the grapes to the final bottling process," Fugelsang said. "The chance to use the new winery will only enhance what already is a wonderful program."

Seventy-five students are enrolled in Fresno State's enology program, taking core courses in wine making and viticulture -- the study of growing grapes -- as well as chemistry and microbiology.

"When people hear you're in the wine-making program, they think it's a blow-off," Fugelsang says. "People don't realize how technical it really is."

The new winery has the capacity to crush 4 tons of grapes, grown on 140 acres of vineyards on campus.

"The entire state of California has a lot to offer wine connoisseurs, and now we'll be an even bigger part of the process," says Carlos Muller, head of Fresno State's enology department.

It won't hurt the school's reputation within the wine-making industry, either.

"With only a select few enology programs in the country, any little boost you give your program helps," says Dan Bartel, dean of the School of Agriculture Sciences and Technology.

Although the market may seem small, Fugelsang says there are always opportunities for qualified winemasters.

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