Friday Night Flights returns with award-winning wines and features student winemakers

This story was last updated on October 20, 2022 at 2:38 p.m.

Fresno State viticulture and enology students showcased award-winning wines during Friday Night Flights, a student-run wine tasting event.

The event kicked off in September and will run through early December, with specific dates listed on the Fresno State website. On Friday, the event will take place at the campus cellar on Barstow Avenue from 4-7 p.m.

Patrick Hungate, a senior wine student, frequently hosts Friday night flights with Kevin Smith, Fresno State Winery’s director of business operations and marketing, and award-winning winemaker Tom Montgomery.

Hungate said events like these show Fresno State’s ability to help students like him gain hands-on experience.

“I don’t think I could ever get that in class,” Hungate said. “We’re all very passionate about winemaking and what we put into this product, so it’s a great way for teachers, professors and students over the age of 21 to get a taste of what we put all that effort into. .”

The event is $10 per person, but the fee is waived for attendees who purchase a bottle or are members of the Fresno State Wine Club.

The club is free membership for all interested and includes benefits such as small batches of craft wines from student winemakers, priority access to premium black label wines and exclusive discounts at events as well as online and at the Gibson Farmers Market.

It also offers exclusive invitations to members’ parties, dinners and access to sensory wine seminars.

“It was the first commercial winery on a college campus in the United States, and now it’s by far the largest… They’re actually doing what we do in the real world on a pretty large scale,” said Montgomery.

In 1997, Fresno State Winery became the nation’s first full-production college winery. This allowed the winery to produce, bottle and sell wine. The program was founded by Dr. Vincent Petrucci, a well-known figure in the world of viticulture and oenology research. Petrucci died aged 91 in November 2016.

“Academia and industry must [Petrucci] much not only for the tutelage and preparation of students in viticulture and oenology, but also for his vision and orientation in research which have made significant contributions to what we know today in the fields of vine and wine “said Kenneth Fugelsang, former teacher and winemaker, on the site Growing Produce in 2016..

A limited-edition, student-produced vintage known as The Petrucci’s Crush was produced in his honor. Petrucci’s Crush was a red wine developed by Petrucci himself. The vintage was made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot.

The award-winning vintages are presented in turn on the Fresno State Winery websiteas well as other locally produced wines.

More recently, Friday Night Flights featured the winery’s bouschet alicante, a two-time silver medalist vintage that was recognized in 2021 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association.

Shirley M. Pinder