NOTE: See the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine feature article on the Fresno State viticulture and enology program through links at FresnoStateNews.com.
New Marketing Director, Winemaker Announced; New Retail Outlets
Include San Francisco’s Exclusive Vino Stores, Costco
The Fresno State Winery — already basking in five years of winning prestigious awards throughout the state and in international competition — is stepping up its campaign in marketing and production and has just completed an agreement with the prestigious Vino Wine Stores in the Bay Area and Costco.
Also, as part of the new marketing and production advances, Garrett Jones was named marketing director and John Gianinni was hired as winemaker, both working under winemaster Ken Fugelsang.
Jones, 22, is a successful product development specialist and product broker who was instrumental in making Bulldog Root Beer a success. He began his duties at the beginning of the semester and has launched a campaign to bring the student-produced wines to more retail outlets.
This week he announced that the wine marketing campaign has resulted in deals with six new outlets, including Vino which began stocking Fresno State wines Nov. 29.
Jones added that consumers also will soon be able to purchase award-winning wines at Trader Joe’s, Cost Plus World Market and Sam’s Club.
Currently the wines are available at the university’s Farm Market on Barstow and Chestnut Avenues as well as Fresno retail outlets Catalano’s, Old Doc’s, Save Mart Stores, Albertson’s, Bailey Cannon, Whole Foods and Vons, among other locations, as well as online at FresnoStateWinery.com.
“We are also expanding our offerings in Costco as far as more locations and more varietals,” Jones said.
The new marketing effort is only one example of progress the university’s viticulture and enology programs have made since becoming the first and only program in the nation that is licensed to produce and sell wine commercially.
This unique status provides Fresno State enology students the opportunity to participate in the winemaking process and receive hands-on training in the winery as they see their product go from field to table, said Dr. Robert Wample, head of the viticulture and enology programs at Fresno State.
The program, which offers undergraduate degrees in viticulture or enology and a master’s degree in viticulture and enology, is already well known in the industry with Fugelsang and Wample called upon to provide their expertise at conferences as well hosting research events.
They are bolstered by other experts on the viticulture and enology faculty who conduct research on grape and wine issues through the Viticulture and Enology Research Center at Fresno State. The teaching and research facilities include a 160-acre vineyard, raisin processing plant and the winery.
But the program also is gaining attention in the general public as well, reinforcing the Central Valley’s status as a producer of top wines in the state and the world. This message is underscored by its success in commercial wine competition.
Since the winery became bonded in 1997, Fresno State has won 146 awards including 37 “super awards” such as Best of Class and Best of Region.
From the 1998 California Syrah (“Best Syrah of California” at the 1999 California State Fair) to the 2000 President’s Reserve Primitivo ( “Best of Class – Italian Varietals” at the 2002 Los Angeles County Fair) to the Fresno State Muscat Canelli (a rare Double Gold at the 2004 California State Fair this summer), the Fresno State Winery is focused on producing wines from grapes that grow best in the climate of the Central Valley, Wample said.
This fact is being noticed by the public through exposure for the program in local, state and national media coordinated by the university’s Office of University Communications, including a feature that will appear in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday Magazine on Dec. 5.
Earlier this fall, the program was featured in Sunset Magazine and in recent years it received international recognition in the Los Angeles Times (2003) and the PBS’s California Heartland (2001).
In 2004, the Fresno State Winery participated in seven wine competitions throughout the state with 13 wines receiving 59 medals: the California State Fair, New World International, Los Angeles County Fair, Orange County Fair, Long Beach Grand Cru, San Francisco International and West Coast Wine Competition.
Wample said Jones and Gianinni bring solid credentials to the enology aspect of the program headed by Fugelsang.
Gianinni is a 1999 graduate of the Fresno State enology program whose winemaking experience includes the Taft Street Winery in Sebastopol and Wild Horse Winery in Templeton. He joined the winery staff in July and is responsible for all winery related business including production and sale inquiries.
Jones, a 2003 alumnus of Fresno State, will be responsible for the marketing and sales of the award winning Fresno State Wines.
His credentials include the successful marketing of Bulldog Root beer, serving as vice president and helping launch the soda company in the summer of 2002.
He received the prestigious Outstanding Graduate Award from the Mass Communications Department at Fresno State where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in three years with a B.A. in Mass Communications and two minors, Entrepreneurship and Psychology.
For Bulldog Root Beer, he was responsible for brand management, sales, marketing and production. He sold the root beer into several major supermarket chains such as Albertsons, Ralph’s, Vons, Longs, Save Mart, Kroger and Costco – a feat he is close to duplicating with Fresno State wines.
Jones then took the root beer national by striking an agreement with Cost Plus World Market that included national advertising and promotions as well as distribution throughout 23 states and 188 stores.
Jones worked for the entrepreneurship department at Fresno State for three years as the program coordinator helping several students launch successful businesses.
He is also a member of the Regional Jobs Initiative (RJI), serving on the Innovation Task Force, which is made up of leading businessmen and women in the San Joaquin Valley.
As a product development specialist and product broker for companies within the Central Valley, he has handled national accounts such as Costco, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Cost Plus World Market and Trader Joe’s among others.
“I am looking forward to taking our Fresno State Wines into the community and not only increasing sales but increasing awareness of our quality and our prestigious program,” Jones said.
“The great thing about a product like this is that it is a diamond in the rough so to speak. All you have to do is let the people know it is there and when they see it, or in this case taste it, they can immediately recognize why we are one of the most successful programs in the nation.”
Wample said it is essential that the university’s viticulture and enology program achieve the best marketing opportunities for the student-made, award-winning wines.
“To do this we realized that we needed someone with the experience and energy to identify and secure these opportunities,” he said. “Garrett was selected based on his success with marketing the Bulldog Root Beer and based on his academic qualifications and entrepreneurship training.”
The viticulture and enology program is now gearing up for two events on the near and far horizon:
The first ever Christmas Open House on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. when the winery will release its 2004 Pinot Gris for the first time. Tasting of the new wine will be offered as well as another chance to taste and buy the limited production Nouveaus introduced at the recent Le Vin Nouveau in November; and
The annual Winemaster’s Weekend at Tenaya Lodge slated for March 4 and 5, 2005. For more info visit www.FresnoStateWinery.com or call the Tenaya Lodge toll free (877) 322-5492 for reservations.
For more information on the viticulture and enology curriculum offerings, visit the Department of Viticulture and Enology’s website at http://cast.csufresno.edu/ve.
For information on the viticulture and enology research program, visit http://cati.csufresno.edu/verc. By phone for both programs, contact Wample at (559) 278-2089.
For more information on the university winery or to purchase Fresno State wines online as well as retails outlets, visit www.FresnoStateWinery.com.
Upcoming Fresno State viticulture and enology events (full details to come):
December 9: Winery Christmas Open House
January 18: 1st Viticulture and Enology Career Fair – Fresno State Viticulture and Enology
January 25-27: Unified Wine & Grape Symposium – Sacramento Convention Center
February 5: FFA Vine Pruning Contest – Fresno State
February 24-25: 8th Annual Central Coast Viticulture and Enology Issues Conference – Embassy Suites, San Luis Obispo (Topic: Syrah)
March 4-6: Fresno State Winemaster’s Weekend – Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite
April 16: FFA Field Day – Vine Judging Contest – Fresno State
April 14-17: Vintage Days – California State University, Fresno
April 18-19: Wine Microbiology Conference – Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
April 21: Vino Italiano Event – Fresno State Winery
April, TBA: Enology Society Spring Banquet – Fresno
May 6: 8th Annual Friend’s Day – Duarte Nursery, Hughson
May 19: Viticulture and Enology Graduates Dinner – Clovis
1st Sunday in June: A Celebration of Wine – Dennes Coomb’s Riverbend Ranch, Madera, CA
June 22-June 24: ASEV Annual Meeting – Seattle, Washington