The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology
Enology Student Spotlight: Zihao Jiang
Fresno State enology senior Zihao 'Amir' Jiang worked extra hard this fall to showcase our student-made wines to the public as a host at Gibson Farm Market wine tastings.
Jiang was a perfect candidate to explain the subtleties of each red, white & rosé wine since he helped process many of these wines himself, while he worked and volunteered at the Fresno State Winery.
In his final semester, he also gained valuable experience as a winemaker assistant at the Kings River Winery. The Sanger winery also helped host viticulture and enology students, supporters and alumni at the 68th annual Viticulture Club Fall Harvest BBQ fundraiser in November.
Learn more about his road to Fresno State as a transfer student from Shihezi University in Northwestern China, and what lies ahead in this recent interview.
Q: Why did you choose to attend Fresno State, and why were you drawn towards enology?
Jiang: "I studied grape and wine engineering (at Shihezi University) for one year before I came to Fresno State in the fall 2019. I really love this major since wine is mysterious. Every wine has its own life and its own story. Fresno State has a great enology program, and it's a nice opportunity for me to study abroad."
Q: Which classes & faculty members had the biggest influence on you while at Fresno State and why?
Jiang: "I want to thank all of my enology professors and classmates who are supporting me all the time. Especially for Dr. (Miguel) Pedroza, he teaches me not only in the classroom, but also in my real life. He is always a great person to share my thoughts with. He shares his experience with me and has helped me to find my own way for my career. I appreciate him a lot."
Q: Talk about your current internship at the Kings River Winery, and how it is helping you professionally.
Jiang: "I help the winemaker in many ways as a winemaker assistant. This position really gives me more the chance to get into every little step of the process, and improve my understanding about wine and winemaking."
Q: Have you been involved with research on campus, and how will it benefit your career path?
Jiang: "I worked with Dr. Qun Sun in her lab last fall semester with wine research. This experience really taught me how important the lab work is for winemaking."
Q: Have you worked with any campus farm units, and how have they prepared you for your career path?
Jiang: "I was a volunteer at the Fresno State Winery my first year, and then worked as a student assistant for our winemaker, Tom Montgomery, during harvest season. It was my very first time working in a winery, and it was amazing to help make wine for my university. I really appreciated the opportunity."
Q: What was your background in agriculture before you started at Fresno State?
Jiang: "I had no background in agriculture actually. The only reason I chose this major is I felt that a wine-related major must be very interesting."
Q: Are you a part of any clubs or organizations at Fresno State?
Jiang: "I am a member of the Viticulture Club, and have great memories from their Fall Harvest BBQ my first fall here (in 2019). It didn't happen last year (because of the pandemic), but it come back this November, which was a great event for our club members and alumni to come together."
Q: Have you overcome any challenges to get where you are today that have shaped who you are?
Jiang: "The biggest challenge after I came here is my language. In China, I never used English. After pushing myself, my English has improved and I am very happy about that."
Q: What's your potential next career step, and how do you plan to use your degree eventually?
Jiang: "I will go back to my Chinese university after this fall semester and finish my last semester there. I have been out of my home country for two years, so I want to return have a look at the Chinese wine market, and then make the decision for my future career."