Boswell gift will help with storage,

production and oak research, education

A state-of-the-art barrel house that is the first of its kind on a college campus is now under construction at the California State University, Fresno Winery. The project is thanks to a nearly quarter-million dollar gift from the Boswell Foundation and World Cooperage, one of the top producers of American, French and Eastern European oak barrels in the wine industry.

World Cooperage officials John Boswell, chief executive officer; his son, Brad Boswell, president; and daughter, Amie Boswell Dewane, marketing manager, all trustees of the Boswell Foundation, arranged the donation to Fresno State for what will be called the “World Cooperage Barrel House.”

Dr. Daniel Bartell, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, announced the Boswell’s $230,000 donation to the university’s Viticulture and Enology programs at a press conference this morning.

He was joined by two of the donors, Brad and Amie Boswell Dewane, and Fresno State President John D. Welty as well as administrators, faculty and students.

Bartell said the new “World Cooperage Barrel House” will provide the opportunity for education and research on the effects of oak in the wine making process.

“This is yet another outstanding example of how the industry has stepped up to help us provide excellent learning opportunities for our students and strengthen our position as the most comprehensive Viticulture/Enology program in the United States if not the world,” said Bartell.

The barrel house, which is expected to be complete in early March, will hold 150 barrels of wine, which is approximately 9,000 gallons, Bartell said.

Presently the winery is capable of producing 50,000 gallons but only produces half – 25,000 gallons – because of limited storage.

The Boswells chose Fresno State for the donation because it is the only university in the nation that operates a commercial winery.

“Funding a new barrel house at Fresno State was an opportunity for our family to give back to an industry that we are very proud to be a part of,” Brad Boswell said.

“The barrel house will be a great tool for training students in winemaking and it will be used extensively for research related to the endless pursuit of excellence in winemaking,” he said.

The structure will be 1,600 square feet and 30 feet high and includes a state of the art humidity control system designed by Refrigeration Technology Inc. of Cloverdale as a partial donation.

Founded in 1912, World Cooperage has offices in the West Coast, Australia, Europe and South America.

In addition to being one of the top producers of American, French and Eastern European oak barrels in the wine industry, World Cooperage owns and operates stave mills in France, Bulgaria and Missouri, including the premier tight grain forests of the Ozarks. Today, World Cooperage markets its products in more than 20 countries and produce more than 50 percent of the barrels made in the world.

The company works with a variety of wood sources and conducts experiments and studies with research specialists, winemakers, master distillers and universities throughout the world, researching all elements that contribute flavor and aroma to wine.

Along with the $230,000 donation to build the structure, World Cooperage also will supply barrels and other materials for the production of premium quality wines as well as the opportunity for faculty and students to conduct research.

Dr. Robert Wample, chair of the Viticulture and Enology Department and director of the Viticulture and Enology Research Center (VERC), said the barrel house will not only help in the process of winemaking but it will also increase students’ education in wine processing.

“It will provide students with a better education and they will have more skills entering the work force,” Wample said. “Students will learn how to manage a barrel room and be given a chance to research the effects of oak in the winemaking process.”

Construction of the barrelhouse began in November and is expected to be completed in March, Wample said.

Fresno State is the only university in the nation that is licensed to produce, bottle and sell wine commercially. For the past three years, the program has received top honors at North America’s largest wine judging event, the California State Fair Wine Competition.

For more information about the Department of Viticulture and Enology, visit or contact Wample or Winemaster Kenneth Fugelsang at (559) 278-2089.

University Relations intern Milagros Lujan, a mass communication and journalism major, contributed to this article.