It was a special morning on Saturday, October 21, when a green field on the eastern end of the Fresno State campus was transformed into a mecca for all things grape. A celebration of San Joaquin Valley grapes, raisins and wine commenced that morning, and continued through the weekend in an upbeat and spirited way.
The first of its kind and well-supported by the local and agricultural community, the Whole Vine Festival provided a great opportunity for individuals and families to come and not only celebrate the harvest, but to learn to really appreciate the many amazing ways that the grape industry benefits Valley communities and the world.
The festival kicked off with a National Anthem performance by American Vineyard Magazine’s Malcolm family, followed by a ceremony dedicating the inaugural festival to longtime grape industry leader and advocate, Nat DiBuduo. This special honor was presented by Whole Vine Festival President Vickie Goudreau and Festival Board Member, Matthew Malcolm.
“We are thrilled to honor Nat DiBuduo for his vision to see this festival in his mind’s eye and then engage in the foundational work to build it… This festival is a testament to Nat DiBuduo’s love for the vineyard and for the people who tend it,” shared Goudreau.
Malcolm added, “As one of many that have had the privilege of working with Nat over the years, the California grape industry and the Whole Vine Festival have been blessed by his kind and deep-rooted influence.”
The festival featured locally produced grape, raisin and wine tastings. Food vendors even featured grape products in their cuisine, such as Greek N More food truck that served stuffed grape leaf wraps – talk about enjoying the whole vine! Local artisans also featured beautiful grape décor and jewelry for sale.
There was a great agricultural educational aspect to the event that captivated attendees of all ages. An interactive kids’ zone provided children the opportunity to learn how raisins are grown from Sun-Maid Growers. Kim’s Petting Zoo allowed kids, big and small, to enjoy a wide variety of farm animals; and ImagineU Children’s Museum guided the children in painting pots then planting them with seeds which the children were able to take home and watch them grow.
Festival attendees also enjoyed a classroom theater, where they watched videos featuring grape, raisin and wine grape growers sharing experiences in the vineyard and all that goes into producing a quality crop. Renowned local artists, authors and photographers, including Pat Hunter and Juan Arambula had their vineyard and agricultural art on display for all to enjoy.
As attendees went about exploring all the Whole Vine Festival had to offer, they were also treated to local live music for the duration of the event. It was a special and fulfilling weekend for all that attended.
None of this would have been possible without the foundational support of the Whole Vine Festival Founding Supporters: American Vineyard Magazine and the California Table Grape Commission, Builder Supporters: Sun-Maid Growers, Farm Credit, and the Raisin Administrative Committee, Grower Supporters: Marthedal Farms & Enterprises, the California Fresh Fruit Association, Electric Motor Shop & Supply Co., Spencer Enterprises, Inc., and 2023 Festival Sponsors: Butler Branding, Fresno State, Bank of the Sierra, GTE Events, Fresno/Clovis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Granite Park, Dumont Printing, Fresno Equipment Company, ImagineU Children’s Museum, Beneficial State Bank, Central Valley Community Bank, Pro-Screen Inc, Reedley Ace Hardware, Allied Grape Growers (and over 60 VIP volunteers).
The Whole Vine Festival will return to Fresno in the Fall of 2024.
About the Whole Vine Festival
The mission of the Whole Vine Festival is to bring the Valley community together in celebration of all things related to table grapes, raisins, and wine produced in the San Joaquin Valley, as well as to raise the worth of the Valley in the hearts and minds of its people. The inaugural festival took place the weekend of October 21- 22, 2023 at the Fresno State Campus. The Whole Vine Festival will return to Fresno in the Fall of 2024. A festive opportunity for families and individuals of all ages, attendees can enjoy grapes in all forms, a kids fun and educational area, live music, and local food vendors with grape-inspired cuisine. Admission and parking are free. Visit www.thewholevine.com to learn more and to get involved.