The Fresno State Winery and the College of Arts and Humanities will release a limited edition special wine blend to honor Philip Levine, who was the Library of Congress’ 18th Poet Laureate and as an emeritus professor of English who taught at Fresno State for 34 years.

This commemorative wine, which Levine named “Picaresque,” will be released at a public reception honoring Levine, 4-6 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Smittcamp Alumni House on the Fresno State campus. Tasting of the new wine will be available.

Bottles and cases of Picaresque will be available for sale that evening at the Fresno State Winery on Barstow Avenue from 4-6:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Fresno State Department of Viticulture and Enology, and the Philip Levine Scholarship in Poetry. Picaresque will retail at $17.95. A limited number of bottles signed by Levine will be available for $50 each.

“In the more than 30 years Philip Levine taught at Fresno State he helped countless students find their voice and share their experience through poetry,” said Vida Samiian, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “Our campus has been so enriched by his contributions; it is our great honor to celebrate his achievements through this special wine blend.”

Levine and his wife, Fran, worked closely with Fresno State winemaker John Giannini to select the blend of Barbera, Sangiovese and Syrah. The dry red exhibits bright cherry and berry aromas and flavors, balanced by a crisp acidity, said Giannini.

“Some things in life are a pure joy, and the creation of this wine is one of them,” Levine said.

Levine chose the name of the special wine blend. “Picaresque” is the term for an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a roguish hero living by his wits in a corrupt society.

The wine’s label, created by Shae Sarraf before she graduated in May with a degree in graphic design, was selected by Philip and Fran Levine from several submitted by Fresno State students.

Only 400 cases of Picaresque will be produced. Bottles and cases of wine can be reserved by filling out this pdf. form. After Aug. 25, the remaining wine will be sold at Fresno State’s Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market (at Barstow and Chestnut avenues).

An order for one case has already been placed by the Library of Congress.

“My thanks go to Dean Vida Samiian, who devised the project, and to my wife Franny and my friend Peter Everwine who helped me decide on the blend. And especially to the wine maker, John Gianinni and the Fresno State enology department who did the work,” Levine said. “And also to the design students at Fresno State who made Picaresque look so original and inviting.”

Levine taught literature and creative writing at Fresno State from 1958 to1992. His work has been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize, two National Book Awards and two National Book Critic Circle Awards.

He completed his term as Poet Laureate in May and will be succeeded by Natasha Trethewey, the Mississippi Poet Laureate.

Levine divides his time between Fresno, California and Brooklyn, New York.

For more information, contact Moon-ja Yunouye at 559.278.8341 or

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