Fresno County is known more for its production of raisins than fine wine grapes, but it nonetheless is home to a winery with fierce pride and a wealth of talent. Fresno State, the local university has a viticulture and enology program, second only to the University of California Davis. While the program, often gets second billing compared to Davis, it has something UC Davis lacks – a commercial winery.
Not only does Fresno State have a winery, it has an award winning winery (with close to one hundred awards since it was bonded in 1997). Among the awards the winery has received are "Best Syrah of California " at the 1999 California State Fair for the winery’s 1998 California Syrah and the "Best of Class - Italian Varietals" at the 2002 Los Angeles County Fair for the 2000 President's Reserve Primitivo.
Grapes used in the production of the award winning wines are sourced from around the Central Valley, and some grapes including Carignan are grown in the university’s vineyard. While, Fresno County may never gain a reputation for growing the best grapes in the state, the wines made by the students at Fresno State are source of pride for the region.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
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