Students at Fresno State’s Department of Viticulture and Enology will be getting a bigger taste of how things work in the real world with a multifaceted program that covers the entire range of grape growing and harvesting, from fine wines to the everyday table wines most American consumers drink.


Among the program’s elements are a 3.5-acre vineyard that will allow students to track the development of wine grapes from planting to harvesting over a four-year period, and another vineyard planted with 150 grape varieties and rootstocks, from wine to table to raisin. Also in the works is a new greenhouse to give students more experience in vine-propagation techniques.


Large-scale growing and harvesting practices common to the San Joaquin Valley will also be studied. One vineyard block will be devoted to the different trellis and irrigation systems for commercial grape varieties, while another—already planted—will be devoted to research and education in vineyard mechanization, with an eye towards maintaining high quality and high yields.


This last block spans some 19 acres planted with French Colombard, chosen for its prolific production. This year will see its first harvest, with the grapes used in the campus winery and offered to local vintners. More than $100,000 worth of donated equipment will be utilized, both here and in field trials intended to demonstrate that mechanized techniques can also be applied to fine wine grapes.