Fresno State Winery creates new wine for national retailer

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Fresno State Winery creates new wine for national retailer

Trader Joe’s will debut new creation and two others wines June 21 in Valley stores

The award-winning Fresno State Winery announced today the addition of three wines at select Trader Joe’s locations around the San Joaquin Valley, including a first: a new wine bottled especially for the national chain.

The new release, the Special Selection Merlot, will be presented to Trader Joe’s representatives during a special presentation at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday (June 21) at the Fresno store at 5376 N. Blackstone (southeast corner of Barstow). The store will open at 9 a.m. for the first sales of the newly released wines.

Also featured will be the 2006 San Joaquin County Pinot Gris from Duarte Vineyards, bronze-medal winner at the 2007 San Diego Wine Competition, and a special last-of-vintage release of Fresno State’s award winning Rhone-blend, Eclipse. (Eclipse, the second installment of this award-winning product line will be released later in the summer at Trader Joe’s).

Fresno State has the only winery on a university campus in the nation licensed to bottle and sell its student-produced wines.

Trader Joe’s began carrying Fresno State’s student-made wines in its two local stores in Fresno and Clovis in January 2005. Based on the success of the original wine, Trader Joe’s agreed to carry three new wines.

Trader Joe’s also has expanded sales of Fresno State wines to its retail location in Modesto at 3250 Dale Road, said Jessup Wiley, marketing director for the Fresno State Winery. The other local store is in Clovis at 1077 N. Willow (southeast corner of Nees).

“The unique part of this new release is the Special Selection Merlot,” Wiley said. “It is the first time that the student-winemakers have put together a wine for a specific retailer exclusively and we are excited about the experience our students received from this project.”

Fresno State winemaker John Giannini said the Special Selection Merlot is an example of how the academic missions of the university as well as the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and its Viticulture and Enology Department can be carried out in partnerships with major private retailers.

“It is increasingly important for our students to make many different styles of wine,” Giannini said. “When we came up with the idea to make a special wine for a specific retailer we were very excited about the educational implications this had. The education we strive to give our students is one filled with hands-on application and real world situations. This project gave them exactly this.”

Student-winemakers used Fresno State’s classic award-winning style to produce the special selection, said Ken Fugelsang, Fresno State’s Winemaster.

“This Special Selection Merlot is a medium-bodied wine that has abundant aromas of dark fruits, plum, and herbs,” Fugelsang said. “This is rounded out nicely with the sweet spice character that was brought on by aging in American oak barrels.”

In 2005, the original two Fresno State wines stocked by Trader Joe’s were the gold medal-winning 2002 Syrah and a Special Selection California Chardonnay.

“The relationship between Fresno State and Trader Joe’s is just another example of the exceptional products being produced by our student-winemakers using grapes sourced from the San Joaquin Valley,” Wiley said. “It also exemplifies the success that Fresno State wines are enjoying in retail markets off-campus.”

Fresno State wines have won more than 200 medals in prestigious wine competitions, statewide, nationally and internationally. They have been featured in Sunset Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Magazine and on an ESPN telecast during a Bulldogs football game.

For more information on the university winery, call 559.278.WINE.

California State University, Fresno is the largest institution of higher education in Central California and has a growing reputation as one of the West Coast’s premier universities. Founded in 1911, Fresno State has earned national acclaim for programs in teacher-preparation, health care, water technology, winemaking, entrepreneurship and the Classics. Guided by a distinguished faculty, our 22,000 students receive the academic, practical and leadership skills to meet the dynamic challenges of today and the future in the global community.