Fresno State Wine Professor Fugelsang Retires

March 24 event will celebrate 40-year career; reservations available

by Jon Tourney
Ken Fugelsang retire CSU Fresno
Ken Fugelsang has been part of the California State University, Fresno, faculty for 40 years.
Fresno, Calif.Ken Fugelsang, California State University, Fresno, (CSUF) professor of enology, will be honored March 24 during a celebratory dinner to recognize his 40 years of dedicated service at CSUF and his contributions to the wine industry.

A Fresno native, Fugelsang joined the faculty in 1972 after completing a master’s degree in biology at CSUF, where he also earned an undergraduate degree in botany and zoology. Fugelsang observed, “Looking back over 40 years, I never dreamed I would end up working in the world of wine. I was working after graduation for the California Department of Fish and Game when I was offered a two-semester teaching appointment that ended up lasting 40 years.” He furthered his enology education as a visiting research scholar in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis.

Discussing career highlights and accomplishments, he put his students at the top of the list: “The most gratifying aspect has been in May each year: seeing our students graduate with diploma in hand and heading out into the world.” Hundreds of Fugelsang’s students have achieved successful careers in the wine industry—not only in California and the United States, but also in South America, Australia, China and the Republic of Armenia.

Winery as classroom
Fugelsang helped start Fresno State Winery with CSUF colleague Carlos Muller in 1997; it was the first commercially licensed winery on a university campus in the United States. He held the title of winemaster, overseeing student production of wines into commercial-quality products. The winery grew to peak production of 20,000 cases per year, and its wines have won more than 600 awards in competitions.

“I think the students who were fortunate enough to have the winery as part of their classroom experience should be proud of their accomplishments. They’ve done a good job working with San Joaquin Valley-grown varieties and have shown they can produce world-class wine from this area,” Fugelsang observed.

In terms of research accomplishments, he cited his work with colleagues in wine microbiology, contributing to knowledge about spoilage microbes and beneficial wine yeasts, as well as his work with CSUF professors Barry Gump and Carlos Muller on wine chemistry and analysis. Fugelsang also helped wine industry suppliers to evaluate technologies; some have become common practice in wine processing.

He worked with Wines & Vines contributor Clark Smith when Smith started Vinovation, evaluating reverse osmosis (RO) applications for wine processing. “We were among the first to work with crossflow filtration and other stabilization technologies,” Fugelsang noted.

Recognized as an expert in wine analysis, wine stability and microbiology, he is sought after as a lecturer, presenting at educational workshops and conferences throughout the U.S., in Armenia, France, Germany, Portugal, South Africa and Taiwan. He was a co-organizer and presenter for the CSUF International Wine Microbiology Symposiums held in 2006 and 2011. He is a member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), the American Society for Microbiologists and the Society of Industrial Microbiologists.

Fugelsang has published more than 150 technical papers and co-authored or contributed to 14 books. One notable reference book, “Wine Microbiology: Practical Applications and Procedures,” co-authored in 2006 with Charles Edwards, enology professor at Washington State University, received the 2007 Prix d l ‘OIV award in Paris, France, only the second time a book authored by an American was recognized in the field of enology.

Fugelsang said, “This was one of the highlights of my publishing career, as this is a pretty prestigious award to receive.” With Bruce Zoecklein of Virginia Tech, and CSUF colleagues Barry Gump and Fred Nury, he also co-authored “Wine Analysis and Production,” first published in 1996. The book has been issued in three languages and is widely used in enology classes at colleges and universities and in commercial wine labs. Fugelsang is working with his co-authors to write an updated third edition.

Fugelsang technically retired in August 2011 and joined the ranks of the Department of Viticulture & Enology (V&E) emeritus faculty. However, he is continuing to teach enology at CSUF this semester. No longer involved in research projects, he continues to be active as a lecturer at educational meetings throughout the U.S., and he plans to spend more time travelling with his wife, Ann.

Join the celebration
Fugelsang’s March 24 retirement dinner will be at the Fort Washington Golf and Country Club in Fresno. “Ken taught enology students over several decades, and we hope that many alumni will be able to attend his retirement celebration to show their appreciation,” said V & E Department chair Dr. Jim Kennedy.

The V&E Department is accepting wine donations for the dinner, to present as gifts to Fugelsang and for a silent auction at the event to raise funds for the CSUF Enology Society. Well-wishers may also send personal messages and photos to be given to Fugelsang. To reserve or donate, contact Cynthia Wood at (559) 278-7135 or email cynthiaw@csufresno.edu by March 7.

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