Campus: CSU Fresno -- May 13, 2005

Applebee's Becomes First Major Eatery to Feature Fresno State Wines - 'Vine-Cutting' is May 17

Applebee’s -- the largest casual dining restaurant concept in the world -- has become the first major restaurant to carry the award-winning student-produced Fresno State Wines throughout its seven Central California locations.

A Vine-Cutting Ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 17, at one of Applebee’s four Fresno/Clovis area establishments where university and restaurant officials will formally announce the new partnership, heralded as another major breakthrough for the viticulture and enology program at California State University, Fresno.

The ceremony, at 5:30 p.m. at the Herndon and Cedar location in Fresno, is free and open to the public and will include a wine tasting along with Applebee’s Appetizers. It will be hosted by the Fresno State Winery and Applebee’s.

A grape vine will be wrapped around the entire bar and ceremoniously cut by Dr. Robert Wample, chair of the Viticulture and Enology Department at Fresno State, and John Costello, the West Coast Director of Operations for Applebee's.

Others attending will be Fresno State’s nationally renowned winemaster, Ken Fugelsang, Winemaker John Giannini and Applebee's area directors. In addition to Fresno and Clovis, other Central California Applebee’s locations are Bakersfield, Hanford and Visalia.

Garrett Jones, marketing director of Fresno State Winery, said the new partnership culminates months of planning between Applebee’s and Fresno State, which is the only university in the nation with a winery that is bonded to bottle and market its student-produced wine.

“This is a major breakthrough for Fresno State Wines as we continue to take the marketing aspect of the operation to higher levels by working with industry leaders like Applebee’s,” Jones said.

Costello knew Fresno State Wines were a perfect match for Applebee’s.

“When I was introduced to the wines, I knew this would be a fantastic partnership: Applebee’s with our great food and Fresno State with their great wines,” said Costello.

“We appreciate the support from the Valley and Fresno State,” he added, “We are always looking for ways to give back to the community and Fresno State.”

Applebee’s will offer the 2002 Madera County Merlot and 2003 San Joaquin County Chardonnay, both of which will compliment its top-of-the-line cuisine, according to Fugelsang.

“The Chardonnay with its crisp, refreshing citrus flavors and aromas will go excellent with their pastas, salads, and chicken dishes,” said Fugelsang. “And the Merlot will be a great match with Applebee’s steaks, ribs and appetizers.”

Headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, Applebee’s International, Inc., develops, franchises and operates casual dining restaurants in 49 states and 12 international countries under the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar® brand.

With nearly 1,700 restaurants, it is the largest casual dining restaurant concept in the world.
Fresno State’s viticulture and enology program has gained attention in the general public and wine industry by winning top medals at such prestigious competitions as the California State Fair, New World International, Los Angeles County Fair, Orange County Fair, Long Beach Grand Cru, San Francisco International and West Coast Wine Competition.

Since Fresno State partners with many Central Valley wine grape growers, this success has reinforced the Central Valley’s status as a producer of top wines in the state and the world.

Earlier this year, the award-winning Fresno State Wines were introduced at Trader Joe’s in Fresno and Clovis and were so successful, with about 1,200 cases sold, that the chain expanded the product into its Modesto store, reports Jones.

For more information about the Vine-Cutting Ceremony, call (559) 278-WINE or, for restaurants hours and directions, 322-3174.

Media Contact: Tom Uribes (559) 278-2795 or 246-1717

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