Sept. 10, 2015

Contact: AnnMarie Cornejo

Retired Cal Poly Professor Donates $250,000 to Wine & Viticulture Department

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Paul Fountain, retired Cal Poly viticulture and fruit science professor, has donated $250,000 to the university’s Wine & Viticulture Department so that it can replant its distressed teaching vineyard and make additional needed improvements.

Fountain, who oversaw the first planting of a three-acre section of the campus Trestle Vineyard 30 years ago, has always been interested in the art of making good wine. However, the science behind cultivating good wine grapes and teaching others how to do the same is what inspired his donation.

“I still remember back in those days how we had to beg for money from companies for things like irrigation parts and trellises,” Fountain said. “The state budget pays for lectures in the classroom, but at Cal Poly, we provide more than that.”

The gift will be used to replant and rehabilitate six-acres of the 12-acre vineyard and create an endowment that will pay for ongoing maintenance costs of the teaching vineyard for years to come.

“This gift allows us to enhance our curriculum, increase our Learn by Doing student opportunities, and better prepare our graduates to make valuable contributions to the California wine industry,” said Jean Dodson Peterson, assistant professor of viticulture.

Severe disease and pest issues impacted large portions of the existing vineyard, Peterson said. Those vines have already been removed, and new plantings are expected to take place over the next five years.

The new vineyard blocks will expose students to more than 100 different wine, table grape and rootstock varieties — a significant increase from the 40 varieties at the prior vineyard. In addition to the extensive demonstration plantings, the donation will also provide access to both research and rotational blocks in which students can design and execute research projects.

“Paul’s gift will provide students with the most up-to-date teaching resources in the area and provide a lasting impact on our department and industry,” Peterson said.

Fountain earned a bachelor’s degree in fruit science from Cal Poly in 1964. He was hired a year later as a professor in the Crop Science Department. During his tenure, he taught pomology, viticulture, advanced viticulture, orchard management and vineyard development. He developed several vineyards on campus, including what is now known as the Trestle Vineyard. He served as head of the Crop Science Department before retiring in 2001. He lives in San Luis Obispo.

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