The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology
Viticulture Honors Research Spotlight: Salvador Pineda
Viticulture senior Salvador Pineda took advantage of an array of campus resources for his Jordan College Honors Cohort research project on crimson seedless table grapes and ways their coloring can be less affected by warm, summer weather.
The Visalia native worked closely with Dr. Sonet Van Zyl and students from our viticulture and enology program in our 120-acre campus vineyard and easily accessible research labs.
Read more about the accomplished #FresnoStateGrad who discovered a passion for agriculture after he arrived at Fresno State, and now looks forward to an internship with E. & J. Gallo in this recent interview.
Q: Why did you choose to attend Fresno State and were you active in any student organizations?
Pineda: "I chose Fresno State because it is the only California State University that has a fully operational commercial winery. I found this fascinating, and our beautiful 120-acre vineyard was too hard to pass up when it came to college admissions. I enjoyed being a club member of the Viticulture Club for two years and served as its treasurer."
Q: Have any of your family members also attend Fresno State?
Pineda: "Robert Montion (Uncle) Degree in Political Science, Mary Montion-Ontiveros (Aunt) Registered Nursing, Frank Ontiveros (Uncle) Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Mariah Galston (Cousin) in Design, Cindy Ontiveros (Cousin) in Social Work."
Q: What is your background in agriculture before you started at Fresno State?
Pineda: "Fresno State was the beginning of my agricultural career. I wanted to pursue something that was unique and fascinating to me."
Q: Did you receive any Jordan College scholarships?
Pineda: "I am grateful to have received the Orange County Wine Society Scholarship, Marc Radin Scholarship, and ASEV (American Society For Enology And Viticulture) Scholarship."
Q: Have you had any internships or part-time jobs, and what types of tasks did you handle?
Pineda: "I was a student research assistant for the Viticulture and Enology Research Center on campus. In addition to my honors project, I helped with graduate student research projects as well."
Q: Describe your research project, and why did you pick that topic?
Pineda: "My undergraduate research project was entitled "Effects of Color and Pigmentation on Crimson Seedless Grapes from ORO-151 Applications." Crimson seedless varieties are known to be sensitive to the San Joaquin Valley's high, summer temperatures, and consequently, the grapes can grow discolored giving yellow and brown pigments of color that should be red."
Pineda: "I analyzed the ORO-151 Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) that was applied to the crimson grape block here in the Fresno State vineyard and the anthocyanin content (color) of the berries using a High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to see how effective the ORO-151 application is. I am absolutely fascinated by grapevine physiology. I believe this project will help the industry in finding other PGR’s that can be more effective at a lesser cost."
Q: Which faculty members did you work with, and what type of guidance did they give you?
Pineda: "My mentor for my honors research project was Dr. Sonet Van Zyl, and I am forever grateful for all the guidance and advice she has provided for me. Not only is she the best instructor, she is also the best class advisor boss to ever work for."
Q: What are some of the most important things you've learned from this research?
Pineda: "From having to conduct a majority of this research project during COVID-19, I learned now more than ever that communication is key. My whole lab contributed to this project, and they were also commited to seeing it through."
Q: Have you had to overcome any challenges or obstacles to get to where you are today that have shaped you are?
Pineda: "As part of the LGBTQ+ community, I have struggled coming to terms with my sexuality in the environment of the Central Valley and the agriculture industry. I am so thankful for all the support I have received from family, friends, and faculty, and this has made me a stronger and more outgoing person."
Q: What's your potential next career step, and how do you plan to use your degree eventually?
Pineda: "After graduation I plan to start my career in the wine industry. I am one of the three interns to work for the largest winery in the world, E & J Gallo Winery. I am beyond excited and grateful for this amazing opportunity. I will be a winemaking intern here at their Fresno location."
Pineda: "Since my research consisted of table grapes, I will be working with wine grapes during my internship, and understanding grapevine physiology is a very important factor in winemaking decisions."