Swiss and American wine grape growers and winemakers came together at California State University, Fresno to help shrink the world a little in the interest of a better glass of wine.
A four-week Viticulture and Enology Summer University Program that drew inspiration from wine regions on the West Coast concluded Friday, July 15, at Fresno State as students from Switzerland joined with counterparts from Fresno State and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
The international collaboration was intended to deepen participants’ understanding of global issues and strengthen personal communication skills that will be required of them as they move into careers as winemakers and viticulturists.
The students made final presentations about what they learned in the program that began June 20 with the 22 participants traveling to various grape and wine regions of California and Oregon. The program’s final week was spent on the Fresno State campus.
The program culminates a four-year partnership that began in 2008 between Switzerland’s Engineering School of Enology at Changins (EIC) in Lausanne and the two American universities. In 2007, EIC officials contacted Fresno State to pursue a partnership, citing the American university’s international reputation in viticulture and enology.
In 2000, Fresno State was the first campus in the California State University system to combine its research and educational programs in viticulture and enology. And after becoming the first university to obtain a commercial bond to bottle and market its wines 14 years ago, the student-operated Fresno State Winery has amassed more than 200 commercial competition awards.
In the first exchange in 2008, students and faculty from Fresno State’s Department of Viticulture and Enology attended the international grape and wine summer university program in Switzerland. The EIC is part of the larger Universities of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland near Lake Geneva.
In addition to lectures, hands-on activities and visits to large- and small-vineyard and winery operations, students were required to give a group presentation on their homeland’s grape growing region and winemaking styles. Fresno State students presented wines from California’s Central Valley, including many award winners.
Faculty from Oregon State University, Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Cal Poly and Fresno State led discussions and presented on a wide range of viticulture and enology topics.
Fresno State and Cal Poly alumni and industry partners provided some program content and educational visits on the tours, and hosted meals.
“This group developed a much deeper understanding of the complexity of this industry and sharing a renewed sense of respect for each other’s abilities and practices,” said Dr. James Kennedy. He chairs Fresno State’s Department of Viticulture and Enology and directs its Viticulture and Enology Research Center.