History of Programs

An Overview of Our Success

Fresno State's viticulture curriculum (est. 1948) was offered through the Plant Science Department.

Fresno State's enology curriculum (est. 1956) was offered through the Enology, Food Science and Nutrition Department.

With generous support from the grape and wine industry, the first Viticulture Research Center was built in the late 1970's on campus.  In addition to teaching viticulture classes, Professor Vincent E. Petrucci conducted and lead viticulture research projects that would benefit the grape and wine industry.

In 1984, the Viticulture and Enology Research Center (VERC) was officially established through the California Agricultural Technology Institute on campus.  Professor Vincent E. Petrucci served as VERC's first Director and an Advisory Board comprised of industry leaders was created. This Center continues to be recognized today as an applied research and education center for the grape and wine industries. Through applied research and partnerships with the industry, faculty and research scientists address real world problems that have the potential for improving quality, as well as increasing the profitability of the grower or winemaker.

In 1994, the VERC Building Campaign was a success, resulting in the renovation and expansion of the Viticulture and Enology Research Center facilities, originally built in the 1970's.  This building project was entirely funded by our grape and wine industry partners, alumni, and friends. 

In 1997, California State University, Fresno became the first in the nation to obtain a license to produce and sell wine on a university campus.  The Fresno State Winery began a new era of preparing students for the real-world while helping to put the San Joaquin Valley on the map by receiving honors at numerous commercial wine competitions throughout the state and nation with grapes grown in the Central Valley.

In July 2000, California State University, Fresno responded to our Industry Advisory Board and the grape and wine industry and became the first university in the CSU system to combine its research and academic program offerings in viticulture and enology.  

In 2000, the Department of Viticulture and Enology was officially established and began to offer undergraduate degrees in viticulture or enology.

The combination of research services and academic offerings also resulted in an international search for one leader to serve as Chair of the newly created Department of Viticulture and Enology (DVE), and Director of the Viticulture and Enology Research Center (VERC).  The first individual to fill this joint position was Dr. Robert L. Wample (2000-2009).

By 2003, the university approved a master s degree in viticulture and enology within the Department of Viticulture and Enology. The graduate program offers advanced training and research opportunities through the Viticulture and Enology Research Center.

In 2010, Dr. James Kennedy joined the university as the Chair and Director of the Department of Viticulture and Enology and Viticulture and Enology Research Center, respectively. 

Throughout the years, many of the department's faculty have been recognized for their excellence in research and teaching by both the university and industry. The combination of research and education programs that Fresno State offers has strengthened the university's ability to produce quality students who are well prepared to enter the grape and wine industry.

Each year, over 150 viticulture and enology students take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities that this one-of-a-kind program offers.

Fresno State graduates are found in leading grape and wine positions around the nation and world. Enology and viticulture graduates and industry leaders Bo Barrett, Hal Huffsmith, Ed Sbragia, and Bob Steinhauer have been recognized by the Fresno State Alumni Association as Top Dog Alumni awardees on behalf of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

There is no other institution quite like Fresno State. Recognized world wide for its unique facilities and strong academic and research programs, Fresno State is the center for excellence for undergraduate and graduate training in viticulture and enology.