Retirement celebration to honor Winemaster Fugelsang

Alumni, friends and supporters of Fresno State’s enology program will honor winemaster Ken Fugelsang, professor emeritus of enology, at a retirement celebration at 7 pm Saturday, March 24, the Fort Washington Country Club in Fresno.

In a 40-year career, Fugelsang taught and directed hundreds of students in the science and art of winemaking and was a key player in establishing the Fresno State Winery, the first university winery licensed to produce, bottle and sell wine. Fresno State viticulture and enology students have amassed nearly 600 awards in major wine competitions under his guidance.

Fugelsang was conferred professor emeritus status in August after 10 years teaching and 30 years as a technician. He continues to teach part-time for the Department of Viticulture and Enology in Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology but is no longer active in research.

At the celebration, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, will present a resolution that he will read into Congressional Record honoring Fugelsang’s service.

Dr. Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College, said, “Ken Fugelsang is leaving a legacy of award winning winemakers throughout the world. These individuals are leading this growing and rapidly changing industry.”

Fugelsang joined the university in 1971 and moved into the faculty ranks in 2001.

John Giannini, winemaker at the winery, said that during his tenure, Fugelsang has had a significant impact on Fresno State, the viticulture and enology program and the wine industry.

“Fresno State enology graduates are sought after in the industry due, in large part, to Ken’s training,” Gianni said. “Ken has trained hundreds of winemakers nationally and internationally; many of whom have gone on to acquire prestigious accolades.  Ken has also given seminars and workshops in many of the winemaking regions of the world. He is truly an industry icon.”

The Fresno State Winery produces nearly 10,000 cases a year across a range of varietals grown in the San Joaquin Valley – some of it from grapes cultivated on the university farm.

Fugelsang has published more than 150 technical papers and 18 books. He also has contributed to journals in the United States and internationally.

His book Wine Microbiology – Practical Applications and Procedures,” co-authored with Charles Edwards of Washington State University, received the Paris-based International Office of the Vine and Wine’s Prix d l’OIV in 2007. It was just the second time that an American author was recognized in the field of oenology.

The office is an intergovernmental scientific and technical body with 43 member nations that has overseen the world’s grape and wine industry for more than 80 years.

During his career, Fugelsang was a recipient of some 50 research grants totaling approximately $5 million. He is recognized as one of world’s most-authoritative experts on Brettanomyces – spoilage yeast that grows on grapes and in wineries. He has presented at conferences in Germany, Portugal, Canada, Missouri and various places in California.

He also has served as a coordinator for 18 regional, national and international conferences. The list includes the International Wine Microbiology Symposium, International Barrel Symposium, Wine Spoilage Microbiology Conference and Fresno State’s Pall Filters workshops, Central Coast Issues Conference and Winemaster’s Weekend.

He has received donations exceeding $2 million in facilities, equipment, supplies, grapes and technical services that have directly benefitted students as well as wine-industry partners with Fresno State’s viticulture and enology programs

Fugelsang is the past president of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He has received the university’s Outstanding Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award, Salgo-Noren and the National Association of College Teachers Award, the Claude Laval Award for Innovative Technology and the Outstanding Alumnus Award. 

Fugelsang said the highlight of his career is “to be part of preparing young people for the professional world of winemaking; to be able to come in uninitiated as a student, in many cases, and leave ready to take a position of authority or importance in our industry.”

He is a member of the Advisory Committee to the California State Fair in Sacramento and serves area youth as a science mentor for Fresno and Clovis Unified School districts.

G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski, chief judge and consultant to the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, said Fugelsang’s service on the state fair committee has been admirable.

“Ken always had ideas that could help the competition improve its standards,” Pucilowski said.  “Whenever I needed someone to give a lecture or seminar to the wine judges, Ken always came through with someone at the college who was doing experiments or himself.

“Professor Fugelsang and Fresno State should be hailed by the California Wine Industry — and probably the wine industry of the world — for producing world-class winemakers who are now making world class wines,” Pucilowski added.

For event details, visit the viticulture and enology website at http://jcast.csufresno.edu/ve and look under news and events.

written by

The official news site of Fresno State.