Matt Brain, one of Central California’s most respected vintners, has been hired as the new winemaker and lecturer at the Fresno State Winery.

Brain recently ran his own boutique winery, Baker and Brain, and held the winemaking lecturer position at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo since 2012.

“I am thrilled to join Fresno State and its nationally-respected winery and viticulture and enology department,” Brain said. “I look forward to bringing my own personal style of unique and expressive reds, creative blends, and elegant whites to its lineup and mentoring students through production and cellar operations.”

Brain is co-owner and co-winemaker of the 1,600-case Baker and Brain brand, which practices sustainability and minimal intervention, and features Pinot Noir and Rhone varietals from vineyards across the Central Coast.

Its 2012 Gruner Veltliner was a Wine Enthusiast Editor’s Choice honoree, and its Syrah, Grenache, Pendulum and Pinot Noir varieties were honored by the same publication and Wine Spectator.

He also has served as an enologist and technical representative for Laffort USA. In prior positions, he served as a winemaker at Edna Valley Vineyard and Juniper Canyon and cellar master at Tolosa Winery and Courtside Cellars.

“Matt brings a very special set of skills to Fresno State that our students will benefit greatly from,” said Dr. Jim Kennedy, chair of Fresno State’s Department of Viticulture and Enology. “He has a significant amount of wine industry experience and with his own label. Bringing this real-world experience into the classroom is what sets Fresno State apart, and Matt is the epitome of this instructional approach. What makes him special is that he has taught at the university level and has a personality that is both approachable and modest. We are tremendously fortunate to have him on our team.”

Brain received his bachelor’s degree in plant physiology from San Houston State in 2000, and added a master’s in biological control and fungal pathology in 2002. He completed the University of California, Davis wine and viticulture distance learning program in 2010.

Fresno State Winery became the nation’s first bonded, commercial winery on a university campus in 1997 and has won more than 600 awards.

To celebrate Brain’s addition, the winery is hosting a Winemaker’s Dinner at the Narrow Gauge Restaurant, near the Yosemite National Park south entrance, on Nov. 7. Tickets are available for $80 at for Wine Dogs club members. Remaining seats can be purchased by the public after Oct. 1.

The dinner is also part of a Wine Weekend in the Woods package for $110 that includes the chance to mingle with department leadership and winery students and a ride on the historic steam train while sampling hot mulled campus wines.

Wine Dogs membership is free, and more information is available by calling 559.278.4867 or 559.278.6070.

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