John Peterson, director of the wine and viticulture program, said the program makes two different categories of wines: estate wines and Mustang wines. He said the estate wines are made from grapes grown at Trestle Vineyard which is located at the northern part of campus by Poly Canyon. The grapes grown there include syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir. The estate wines are designated as such because they are made from grapes grown by Cal Poly.
The Mustang wines are made from different blends that include grapes donated from wineries all over the county, Peterson said. He said they originally released 2006 and 2007 versions of the Mustang Red since the zinfandel grapes were available for use. After seeing the popularity of the Mustang Red, Peterson said it only made sense to offer a white as well.
He said the blends differ from year to year and give each wine a unique taste.
“Pinot gris and pinot blanc have their own characteristic flavors,” Peterson said. “When you blend them together, they complement each other and amplify their flavors. It makes for a very bright and light and flavorful wine.”
The Mustang White exhibits different characteristics, including melon, citrus and pear flavors, Peterson said. He added that the wine should be served chilled and is a perfect complement to crab cakes, seafood, smoked cheeses and grilled vegetables.
Located in the heart of wine country, Peterson said the Cal Poly program is the largest in the United States with nearly 300 students. He said the program is aided by Orcutt Road Cellars, which is where the wine is processed and bottled. There were 951 cases of the 2008 edition of the Mustang White produced for sale.
The Cal Poly program usually has two primary student winemakers in charge of producing the wines. This year, Erich Fleck and Charley Johnson are the winemakers for the 2009 editions of all Cal Poly wines.
Johnson said he enjoys the Cal Poly program because it gives him the opportunity to work with a variety of different grapes and wines. He said the best part about the Mustang wines is they change each year with different grapes and different trends in the industry.
“Since the Cal Poly winemakers are our age, the Mustang White is kind of situated toward our age group,” Johnson said. “This wine is a little fruitier and more aromatic than your standard white wine.”
He said the Mustang White does not contain much, if any oak influence, which was a staple of white wines in the past. Also, Johnson said he is excited to see the Cal Poly wines with his name on the label in the future.
“I think that’s the coolest thing,” Johnson said. “The idea that I contributed to this world with the product that I made.”
Fleck said they are already working on production for the 2009 editions of the Cal Poly wines. He said the 2009 Mustang White will be completely different from the 2008 since the program did not receive any pinot gris or pinot blanc. Fleck said the 2009 edition will be a blend of chardonnay and viognier, which will offer their own unique flavors.
The Mustang White is available in multiple locations throughout San Luis Obispo. Kathleen Sharkey, a marketing and sales consultant for Cal Poly wines, said the Mustang White can be found at the Cal Poly Downtown store and Central Coast Wines. Also, she said the wine is available in four restaurants including Sage, Cafe Roma, Palazzo Giuseppe and Buona Tavola.
Sharkey said the wine is very versatile and affordable since it is the least expensive of all the Cal Poly wines at $14.
“It’s a great picnic wine,” Sharkey said. “It’s something that you could bring over to someone’s house and be very drinkable right then and there without interfering with anyone’s meal selection.”
Both Peterson and Sharkey said they feel the 2008 editions of the Cal Poly wines can be as successful as the 2007 versions. At the annual San Francisco International Wine Competition, Cal Poly earned four medals for each of the wines they entered which were the syrah, chardonnay, pinot noir and Mustang Red. The Mustang Red earned double gold status at the competition when each judge on his or her particular panel agreed the wine deserved gold.
Peterson said all revenue generated from the sale of the wines goes back and supports the wine and viticulture program. All Cal Poly wines can be purchased online at www.calpolywine.com.