WANTED: New Director, Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department

Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department Shines, But Needs New Director

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

No doubt, the Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department is important not only to the Central San Joaquin Valley, but also to all of California’s agricultural areas. Nat DiBuduo, president, Fresno-based Allied Grape Growers, and a 1973 Fresno State alumnus, said Fresno State’s top administration is exceptionally dedicated to the department.

 

Research Buildings at Viticulture and Enology Research Center VERC
Research Buildings at Viticulture and Enology Research Center VERC

“It is really critical that we highlight the fact that Joseph Castro, president of Fresno State, and Sandra Witte, dean of Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, as well as the entire Industry Advisory Board for the Viticulture and Enology Research Center (VERC), are committed to the department,” said DiBuduo. “The entire board is committed to continuing the world-class program at the Viticulture and Enology Research Center that Vincent Petrucci (1985-1994) started so many years ago and has been continued on through Robert Wample (2000-2009) and James Kennedy (2010-2015).”

DiBuduo, who studied plant science and viticulture as a student, said, “We’re committed to providing this first class program for our students and for the industry. We’re in the midst of the search for the right person to head the program so that he or she can bring on the faculty and support staff who will continue that progress into the next century and beyond.”

As California’s agricultural industry feeds the world, it is important the industry supports this search for a new department chair. “It is important the University gets the right person in there, so we’re asking everyone out there who knows anyone qualified, [to encourage them] to apply for this position,” said DiBuduo. “We need to have the right person to provide the education, research and leadership into the future.”

Fresno State Winery Bottling Line
Fresno State Winery Bottling Line

Fresno State agricultural programs are unique due to a hands-on approach designed to give students the practical knowledge they need to get out and work. “They will know how to farm,”DiBuduo said. “They will know how to apply their teachings and their education to become managers, foremen and operators, and supervisors of field operations.”

Students come from all over the Central Valley and beyond the Valley because of Fresno State’s excellent reputation. “If students have enough units in the program, they can become Pest Control Advisors (PCAs),” said DiBuduo. “In fact, I was a PCA myself.”

fresno_state_makes_winemakers, Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Department“But the problem we’re having in agriculture today is that many in the industry are an aging society,” DiBuduo said. “So we need to get young entrepreneurs, young farmers and ranchers who want to become PCAs or farm managers or viticulturists or winemakers,” DiBuduo said. “We need these trained students to run the farms and ranches in the future.”


NEW! FACULTY POSITION VACANCY: Chair of the Department of Viticulture & Enology and Director of the Viticulture & Enology Research Center.   Vacancy #12978  (7/20/16) Review of applications will begin September 19, 2016 and continue until the position is filled.


Resources:

Allied Grape Growers

California State University (Fresno State)

Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Fresno State’s Viticulture and Enology Department

Industry Advisory Board for the Viticulture and Enology Research Center

The Peril of Smoke Taint on Winegrapes

Wildfires Threaten Smoke Taint on Winegrapes

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

There are at least two dozen major fires burning in the wilderness of California. Many are now contained, while others are only minimally contained. One recent serious fire, known as the “Rocky Fire” in Lake, Yolo, and Colusa counties burned nearly 70,000 acres before firefighters extinguished it last month.

But smoke from that fire may yet cause problems for the wine grape industry in Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties. James Kennedy, chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology and director of the Viticulture and Enology Research Center at California State University Fresno, explained the threat of smoke taint on winegrapes. “Anytime you have wildfires near vineyards,” Kennedy said, “there is a concern about how that smoke might become associated with grapes, and as a result, become associated with wine.”

Kennedy said they learned a lot about this problem from the Australian wildfires in 2003 that tainted their wine. Kennedy explained,“grape growers are oftentimes not aware of the extent to which smoke can damage fruit. In a sense, it is a two-edged sword. When wine is made from smoke-tainted grapes, it will have characteristics reminiscent of ‘the morning-after ashtray’ that is quite obnoxious and certainly not desirable. The other side of the sword occurs when smoke compounds interact with the grapevine and grape berries, it is modified by the grapes. Like an iceberg in the ocean, the ice above the water suffers the apparent smoke taint; whereas, the massive chunk underneath the ocean, though not initially as obviously smoke-tainted, reveals obvious taint over time.”

Kennedy said, “Winemakers in Australia realized that while you can treat that initial smoke taint, you don’t resolve the long-term taint problem. We, as an industry, are trying to identify vineyards with smoke taint problems before their fruit is made into wine. By testing grapes in laboratories, we are trying to prevent those wineries from wasting significant investment in converting tainted fruit into tainted wine.”

The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association reported on its website yesterday, “So far no vineyards or wineries in Napa County have been threatened by any of this season’s wildfires. Most of the time the fires were burning, the smoke blew away from Napa County due to the typically prevailing winds from the southwest. The weekend of August 15/16, we did experience very hot temperatures and a wind shift that caused our air to be hazy and smoky as a result of the many fires burning throughout CA. However, there were no reports of smoke taint affecting Napa Valley wine grapes as a result.”

“Most reports on smoke taint indicate that it exists only after an extended period of close contact with smoke; conditions that have not, to our knowledge, existed within Napa Valley this summer. Furthermore, Napa Valley is known for the highest standards of fine wine production and our winemakers will be paying very close attention to this situation as they harvest grapes for the 2015 vintage.”