Dr. Vincent Petrucci, professor emeritus of viticulture at California State University, Fresno, who was known as the father of the Fresno State Viticulture/Enology Program, passed away Tuesday.
Petrucci, who taught at Fresno State from 1948 until 1993, was a longtime columnist for American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines.
Petrucci was remembered Tuesday by Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro as “an extraordinarily talented man who shared his special gifts as a Fresno State professor by educating new generations of viticulture and winemaking leaders.”
Petrucci, who was conferred an honorary doctorate of science by the California State University in 1994, was 91. His wife of 69 years, Josephine, died Nov. 9 of this year, also at the age of 91.
In 1985 Petrucci founded the Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Research Center, which includes the Vincent E. Petrucci Library, and served as its director until his retirement in 1993.
A limited Fresno State Winery edition of a student-produced vintage named in his honor, the Petrucci’s Crush wine, was introduced Dec. 1 at a special release event that included Petrucci, family, friends and alumni, along with the department’s faculty, staff and many students. The wine also commemorates his wife of 69 years, Josephine, who supported him and his career.
The Petrucci’s Crush is a red wine blend designed by Petrucci, his first, and Fresno State winemaker Matt Brain. The vintage is comprised of area ‘Cabernet Franc,’ ‘Cabernet Sauvignon,’ ‘Malbec,’ and ‘Merlot’ grapes.
“Vince modeled integrity in his work and in his personal life and he deeply loved his family, especially his devoted late wife Jo,” said President Castro, who ordered the university’s national and state flags be flown at half-staff on the day of the World War II Navy veteran’s memorial service. “His leadership and many contributions form a legacy of academic distinction at Fresno State that will be honored and built upon in the decades to come.”
Fresno State has served viticulture and enology students since 1948 through several programs before the Department of Viticulture and Enology was established in 2000. Fresno was the first California State University campus to combine research and academic offerings in both disciplines.
In 1997, Fresno State became the first university in the nation with a winery bonded to market student-produced wines commercially. Program graduates fill leading grape and wine industry positions worldwide.
Since his retirement, Petrucci published numerous papers and books detailing wine and grape growing best practices.
The V.E. Petrucci Library, which is part of the Henry Madden Library collection, supports and continues this legacy in academics, research, and extension in the heart of California’s Central Valley for students, university faculty and staff, industry and general public.
Library resources reflect the diversity of its patron community with materials generated by the Department of Viticulture and Enology in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology by public and private research institutions and associations, and by other resources released regionally, nationally, and globally.
Among Petrucci’s many accolades during his 46-year career was lifetime service to the wine grape industry in the Central Valley by the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association in 2009.
“Vince is an icon of viticulture research not just locally but nationally and internationally,” said Dr. Kenneth Fugelsang, former Fresno State winemaster and professor emeritus of enology whose 45-year career ended with retirement in 2012.
“The university and industry owe him a great deal not only for the tutelage and preparation of students in viticulture and enology, but also for his vision and direction in research that have made a significant contributions in terms of what we know today in the fields of grape and wine.”
Fugelsang, himself an internationally known enologist, said. Petrucci’s work in establishing the Viticulture and Enology Research Center and the Petrucci Library “is a legacy that will help ensure viticulture and enology research and education is preserved for generations to come.”
Petrucci earned a bachelor of science in pomology in 1947 and a master of science in horticulture in 1948, both from University of California, Davis. He served in the U.S. Naval Air Corps at the end of World War II.
Petrucci is survived by his five children and their spouses: Julianne Calvet, Kristene Scholefield and husband John, Stephanie Weber and husband Doug, Vincent P. Petrucci and wife Terri Lynn, Terrie Antonino and husband Joe, 16 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Services are pending.