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Local Ficklin winery gains prominence

?Businesses are faced with daily obstacles, with state and federal laws,? Peter Ficklin said. ?At the winery, we often have equipment that breaks. However, we have not faced any huge challenges yet.?

After 50 years of history, the 35-acre Ficklin Vineyards continue to thrive in Madera, California. Founded by David Ficklin in 1946, the first grapes were crushed in 1948.

Peter, current President and wine-maker, grew up at the winery and was promoted upon his father?s retirement in 1983. Peter seems recognized for reviving the vintage port program.

?I grew up in the house next to the winery,? Peter said, ?so I spent a lot of time there. When I finished high school, I went to Davis (University of California Davis) with a major in agricultural engineering. Then I talked to my parents and decided to switch my major to wine-making.?

Campus alumni seek own careers

After two generations of production and ownership of Madera’s oldest winery, neither of Peter’s children plans to take over the family-run business.

?Even though my brother and I are not planning on taking up the business,? campus grad, Jenny Ficklin, ?04, said, ?our parents were not disappointed and were supportive of our career choices.?

Jenny attends Point Loma University with a major in nursing, while her brother, Tim, ?01, studies mechanical engineering at Cal Poly.

Both campus alumni, Jenny and Tim, spent the majority of their childhood at the famliy farm, holding part-time jobs and hosting events. In addition, the Ficklins created memories unrelated to wine production. Tim and Peter built a go-cart at the vineyard and hosted numerous paintball competitions.

?I used to work there (the winery) a lot and I spent a lot of time there throughout my childhood,? Tim said. ?In March (2007), I will be getting married at the vineyard. I?m proud that my family?s winery is high quality. They don?t sacrifice excellence for money.?

The production of wine starts with gathering mature grapes, and the use of yeast to metabolize the sugar. Each grape has distinct flavors and in order to soften those tastes, they must age from 5-15 years. Blending the grapes at the end creates different wines.

Ficklin Vineyards earn awards, respect

?It is a business just like any other,? Peter said. ?There is clarifying (filtering and settling), sanitation (washing barrels and pumps), bottling (corking and labeling), working with various distributors and freight and organizing events.?

Ficklin Vineyards produces several award-winning wines, including the Tawny Port, which is aged 10 years. This earned a bronze medal in the 2003 International Wine and Spirits Competition, one of the world?s most distinguished competitions given to the top three wines of any category.

?We are proud of our accomplishments,? Peter said. ?Recently, we had a wine represented at a dinner with Vice President (Dick) Chaney and his wife.?

Those who do not mind making the trip to the winery might decide to do so during a Madera Wine Trail event like the Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Feb. 10-11 from 10 A.M.-5 P.M.

Ficklin Vineyards will offer tastings of the Ports, fine chocolates and cheeses. Call the vineyard at 559-674-4598 or go visit their website, www.ficklin.com, for more information.

Ficklin wines are sold in Catalano’s Market, Savemart, Beverages and More, Costco and various distributors in the Bay Area.

“I think it is cool how they (the Ficklins) made something out of nothing,” Janae Ford, ’09, said. “I never realized something local could turn into something so prestigious.”

For more information regarding Fresno Agriculture check out Chelsea Joy’s Nov. 28, 2006, article Fresno celebrates 150 years of agriculture.

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