A new wine, created by students in the Fresno State Winery to commemorate the tenure of retiring president John D. Welty and his contributions to the university’s viticulture and enology program was unveiled Friday: “Legacy – President’s Reserve Classic Chardonnay 2012.”
The president, who thought he was visiting a semester-end wine tasting by the enology production class, was surprised by the presentation of the wine, by his top advisors who commissioned the vintage.
The president has always been committed to the viticulture and enology program and during his 22-year tenure, the Fresno State Winery became the first student winery on a university campus to become bonded to bottle and sell its wines. In the 15 years since, Fresno State wines have earned more than 500 awards in commercial competition.
“Since we are just about the only university that can bottle a wine to commemorate someone like the president and make it available to the public to share in that recognition, we felt a special vintage would be fitting to honor Dr. Welty and the valuable support he has shown for our viticulture and enology programs,” said Paul M. Oliaro, vice president for student affairs who proposed the idea to the cabinet.
The wine was made from chardonnay grapes grown in the Duarte vineyard in Linden, about 130 miles north of Fresno near Stockton, by the 2012 enology production class.
John Giannini, Fresno State winemaker, explained that the grapes were whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented. The wine went through a secondary malolactic fermentation and was sur lie (pronounced Sir Lee) for six months before 226 cases were bottled on April 16.
“The wine has aromas and flavors of apple, citrus, butter, and oak,” Giannini said. “It is balanced by nice acidity. This wine will improve with one to two years of bottle aging.”
The first shipment will be available at the on-campus Gibson Farm Market, said Kevin Smith, the winery’s marketing manger. The bottle will retail for $14.95.