Barlow Der Mugrdechian
Armenian enology students Zaruhi Muradyan, Armen Kakosyan, and Tigran Khachatryan spent three weeks, September 23 through October 13, 2001, at Fresno State as United States
Department of Agriculture Cochrane Fellows, specializing in wine-making. The Cochrane Program provides funding for overseas agriculture students to study in the United States.
The Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Research Center and Department of Viticulture and Enology hosted the three, who are students at the Armenian Agricultural Academy (AAA) located in Yerevan, Armenia. The AAA is the primary agriculture teaching institution in Armenia.
Dr. Robert Wample, Director of the Enology Research Center and Chair of the Department, coordinated the activities for the students with the assistance of Helen Chrisman, Cynthia Wood, and Department staff. Dr. John Shields, Chair of the Agricultural Economics Department provided logistical support and assisted in arranging the Cochrane fellowships.
Muradyan, Kakosyan, and Khachatryan received practical knowledge in the Fresno State winery and participated in a wine crush. Because Fresno State has the only university-run and owned winery in the United States, the students were able to have first-hand training about the wine-making process.
The students took a variety of courses, such as Wine Analysis and Production taught by Professor Ken Fugelsang and a wine bottling course. They attended the Enology Society’s Wine Tasting featuring Zinfandel from various regions and vintages.
Practical experience was important in the training program, so the group visited the Central California wine grape-growing region. Visits to wineries such as the Eberle Winery, the Bryon Vineyard and Winery, Paul Masson Cellars, and Quady Winery also enhanced their practical knowledge.
They heard presentations by Dr. Roy Thornton “Biotechnology in Winemaking,” Dr. Sanliang Gu, Dr. Nick Dokoozlian “Sunlight: Friend or Foe to Quality Wine Grapes,” and Dr. Barry Gump.
While in Fresno, the students from Armenia met and became friends with students from the Enology program. They traveled together to various wineries throughout the state. The Armenian Cuisine Restaurant of Fresno became a home away from home for the students, providing food and hospitality. Mr. Patrick Balakian of Fresno also provided hospitality for the students.
Among the many activities that the students participated in was a Fresno State football game, an Armenian Studies Program lecture in October, and a visit to the E & J Gallo Winery where they toured a test stand, crusher and the plant.
They visited the Bay Area, including a trip to Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda and visited San Francisco, where they saw many of the city’s attractions such as Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
The 3-day celebration of Sonoma County’s fine wines, foods, and rich agricultural heritage are part of the 2001 Sonoma County Harvest Fair which Muradyan, Kakosyan, and Khachatryan enjoyed greatly.
After returning to Fresno, a culmination event was a dinner at the home of Dr. Robert and Pam Wample, where the students from Armenia prepared an authentic Armenian meal for the many friends that they had made during their stay in Fresno.
The three students returned to Armenia enriched by their stay in Fresno and unanimously agreeing that a return visit was a must.