published on August 15, 2017 - 1:26 PM
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Thomas Montgomery, an award-winning winemaker and Fresno State alumnus, is the Fresno State Winery’s new winemaker.

The Sanger native, who honed a reputation for award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bordeaux varieties as a winemaker for well-known wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, began his Fresno State assignment July 31.

His career began at E&J Gallo Winery in Fresno and at United Vintners in Reedley upon graduation from Fresno State in 1979.

“Fresno State offers a unique opportunity to teach students how to create world-class wines in a place that’s near and dear to me,” said Montgomery in a statement.  “I feel very fortunate to be able to return to the Central Valley and give back to the program that first fostered my love for the profession. Fresno State was a national leader in the field of enology when I was a student, and its winery facilities make it an even better training ground for students to produce an outstanding assortment of wines. I look forward to partnering with valley producers and growers to help train our future winemakers to be the best.”

Montgomery most recently served as the winemaker at Vine Cliff Winery in Napa and as the director of winemaking at Papagni Wines in Madera since 2015. This past year at international wine competitions, his 2014 Monte Smith Cabernet Sauvignon won a San Francisco Chronicle double gold medal, and the 2014 Barbera was a Wine Enthusiast magazine editor’s choice recipient.

He served the previous 20 years as a winemaker at B.R. Cohn Winery, Conn Creek Winery and Villa Mt. Eden Winery where he produced 25 to 30 wines annually that ranged from small lots to 70,000 cases. He managed all aspects of processing from crush through bottling, product development, staff, sales support, events, and marketing and promotion.

His experience also includes work with growers and grapes from California’s more than 107 recognized wine-growing regions, otherwise known as appellations.

Earlier in his career, Montgomery served as an associate winemaker at Cosentino Winery and a winemaker and vineyard manager at Mission View Vineyards in Paso Robles.

“Tom’s vast winemaking experience and knowledge is an excellent fit for our enology program and will enable Fresno State to build upon its reputation of training the best winemakers for today’s global wine industry,” said Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State.  “The Fresno State Winery also looks forward to expanding grower and industry partnerships under his leadership.”

He replaces Matt Brain who served as the campus winemaker and campus lecturer since July 2015.

Fresno State houses the nation’s first commercial winery on a university campus. Founded in 1997, it has won more than 600 wine competition honors.

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