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The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology


Monica Gutierrez
Tom Montgomery & Monica Gutierrez
Monica Gutierrez
Monica Gutierrez, Karley Curtis, Chanel Madison
Monica Gutierrez
Monica Gutierrez & Dr. Miguel Pedroza
Monica Gutierrez & Jose Betancourt

Enology Student Spotlight: Monica Gutierrez

For Sacramento City College graduate Monica Gutierrez, who transferred to Fresno State during the heart of the pandemic in the fall of 2020, it was an especially scary time (as for many students). 

However, thanks to hands-on opportunities through our viticulture & enology department and Fresno State Winery, she has stayed on course academically and is now excited to graduate this spring.

Besides working directly in campus research labs with Dr. Miguel Pedroza, Dr. Stephan Sommer & Dr. Qun Sun, she has also been a part of both the campus Enology Society & Viticulture Club, proving that Fresno State’s one-of-a-kind training has so more options to learn and connect with industry and the community beyond the classroom. 

All that experience has paid off as she now looks forward to traveling both California (and the world) for harvest season to better prepare herself to become a winemaker.

Read more about the Sacramento native & campus winery assistant's journey in this recent interview.


Q: Why did you choose to attend Fresno State?

Gutierrez: “Fresno State was the school that had the best enology and viticulture program for me. I wanted a well-rounded, hands-on experience while taking classes, so my learning experience could be enhanced a step further, and this school definitely delivered.”

Q: Which classes & faculty members had the biggest influence on you?

Gutierrez: “Advanced Sensory Evaluation of Wines and Cellar Operations opened my eyes in recognizing different ways and attributes to further evaluate wines, in addition to tasting wines, the ability to interpret results, and understand what they signify in the eyes of a winemaker. Cellar operations has been a full on hands-on experience like no other class I’ve ever had. It is basically graded on the responsibility to perform a given cellar task using the knowledge we have learned cumulatively these past years."

Gutierrez: "The faculty members that have had the biggest influence have been Dr. (Qun) Sun and Dr. (Miguel) Pedroza. As a transfer student during the pandemic, Dr. Sun took me immediately under her wing even before arriving at Fresno State. She reached out to me and made me feel welcomed to the program instantaneously by offering me a job in her research project. Dr. Pedroza’s classes and teaching techniques have continuously instilled in me a higher respect and acknowledgement of this career throughout the two years I was in the program. His passion and determination for making us more competent students and workers in the real world have taught me valuable lessons that I will carry with me for many years to come.”

Q: Have you been involved with research on campus, and how will it benefit your career path?

Gutierrez: “In the Fall 2021 I worked directly on Dr. Sommer’s research project pertaining effects of bentonites on wines. The whole semester I did mostly the preparation, cleaning and analyzing of the different bentonites we tested. It is believed the paper will be published in a wine-related journal in Spring 2022. As a published paper that will have my name as a contributor and author, this will definitely benefit when applying to research or technical jobs. More importantly, it makes me more knowledgeable on the subject and gives me a higher chance of active participation in decision-making instances where the use of bentonite is involved in any job I get within the industry.”


Q: Have you overcome any challenges to get where you are today that have shaped who you are

Gutierrez: “The challenge that I overcame that shaped who I am today definitely has to be coping with the fact of losing my mother six years ago. The whirlwind of emotions and complications of losing the most important person in my life, definitely had its toll on my educational journey. A lot which had to do with the aftermath of her absence and the complications it brought to my personal life. Overcoming something like this has defined the person I represent today and has helped me grow and flourish into somebody I am most certain my mom would be proud of.”


Q: What's your potential next career step after graduation?

Gutierrez: “I believe my next step is to continue gaining hands-on experiences making wine in various places around the world. For next harvest I secured a job in Healdsburg, then for next year I plan to head out to New Zealand for a harvest overseas. I plan to work in other countries after that, until I feel internationally competent enough to apply for head winemaker positions throughout the country.”