Contact: Lisa McPheron
Director of Communications and External Relations
The Collins College of Hospitality Management
(909) 869-3151, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cal Poly Pomona’s Inaugural Wine Ready for Bottling in Temecula on Nov. 20
TEMECULA - Cal Poly Pomona is preparing to unveil its private label wine, Horsehill Vineyards, in time for the holidays. The rosé wine features grapes grown from prize-winning Zinfandel cuttings from the historic De Ambrogio Ranch in Rancho Cucamonga.
The inaugural vintage of Zinfandel rosé wine is ready for bottling at South Coast Winery in Temecula, under the direction of master winemaker Jon McPherson, on Nov. 20 at 1:45 p.m. The wine will be available for sale next week at the university’s student-run Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.
The Collins College of Hospitality Management and the College of Agriculture have partnered to make Horsehill Vineyards possible. The collaboration preserves the rich tradition of the Cucamonga Valley wine industry while creating new student learning opportunities.
During the local wine industry’s heyday in the 1940s, the Cucamonga Valley floor was covered with 40,000 acres of vineyards. Early settlers recognized since the mid-1800s that the region's sandy soil and favorable climate would promise dependable harvests.
“This valley used to be the country’s largest grape-growing region,” says Dr. Bob Small, professor. “With urbanization, that industry is virtually dead here.”
Before De Ambrogio Ranch was razed for development in 2001, Don Galleano combed the fields and selected 400 grapevine cuttings, some of them nearly 100 years old.
"We wanted to take these prized cuttings from the De Ambrogio Ranch, which represents a lot of the history of the Cucamonga Valley, and preserve them for future generations," says Galleano, a third-generation vintner who operates the Galleano Winery in Mira Loma and Galleano Enterprises, the largest shipper of grapes in Southern California.
With help from Cal Poly Pomona faculty, the Zinfandel cuttings were potted in the university’s nursery with the hope of maintaining a small piece of the area’s wine-producing history. They also represented an opportunity for the university’s College of Agriculture and The Collins College of Hospitality Management to cultivate new programs for students to explore the agriculture and business aspects of the wine industry.
"Grapes are the second-largest agricultural commodity in the state, and we didn't have a single grapevine on this campus," said Dan Hostetler, a professor and chair of the Plant Sciences department in the College of Agriculture. "A lot of our students are getting jobs in viticulture or consulting to vineyards, and we wanted to create a hands-on lab in that area."
Faculty, staff and students from Agriculture’s plant sciences department have cultivated and harvested the grapes. Each step of the way, students had hands-on learning experiences, plowing the field, tending the cuttings in the nursery and grafting them to more than three acres of root stock planted on campus.
The long process of acquiring the prize-winning Zinfandel cuttings and nurturing the grapes so they have the right levels of sugar and acid for wine resulted in the first harvest of wine-ready grapes this August.
At The Collins College, faculty has worked with local wineries to make the wine. Hospitality management students also will become involved in the wine marketing component of Horsehill Vineyards through a beverage marketing class taught by associate professor Margie Ferree Jones.
“We’re anxious to provide these kinds of professional avenues for students interested in the wine business. The experience of making our own wine gives students a real product to touch and strategies to consider,” says Jones, whose experience with wine, marketing and hospitality made her a natural coordinator of the enterprise at The Collins College. “Horsehill Vineyards is also kind of fun. We’ll have something to celebrate each year with each vintage. And through this wine, our community and alumni can connect with us – even at the dinner table.”
An essential aspect of the program is partnerships. In addition to Galleano’s donations, the project has benefited from two California Lottery grants totaling $50,000; alumnus Don Hendrickson of Hendrickson Brothers Irrigation designed the vineyard’s watering system; and California Grapevine Nursery contributed the root stocks.
Master Winemaker Jon McPherson of South Coast Winery in Temecula will oversee the crushing, fermentation and bottling of the Zinfandel rosé wine. Galleano also will make a limited production of red Zinfandel.
“This rosé is beautifully vibrant, almost neon pink, with light lavender edges. The aroma is full of exotic fruit characters: cherries, watermelon and strawberry, all very showy and candy-like. The flavors mimic what the eye and nose behold--crisp fruit flavors that border on sour cherry, sweet watermelon and light strawberry. The first sip is light and refreshing, certainly an invitation for that second and third sip. Nicely balanced and definitely not too sweet, this juicy rosé is perfect for those holiday gatherings and get togethers,” McPherson says of the rosé.
Horsehill Vineyards, named for the location of the vines on campus, will be served this holiday season in the university’s Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch. Proceeds from the wine will support future grape harvests and a vegetable garden project spearheaded by the two colleges.
South Coast Winery is located at 34843 Rancho California Road in Temecula.
For more information, contact Lisa McPheron, director of communications and external relations for The Collins College, (909) 869-3151.
About The Collins College - Founded in 1973, The Collins College of Hospitality Management is the first and largest four-year hospitality management degree program in California and the only hospitality management college on the West Coast. More than 1,000 undergraduate students receive a superior education in the state-of-the-art Collins College facilities, where they learn to apply hospitality management theories and concepts to real-world settings. Part of this unique academic experience includes managing and operating the full-service Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.
South Coast Winery in Temecula bottled the wine on Nov. 20, 2008.
Jon McPherson examines the bottles after they are labeled.