Ron Metzler

Viticulture alumnus & supporter Ron Metzler passes away

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(December 16, 2015) – Ronald Metzler, a well-respected Fresno State alumnus and supporter, passed away on Nov. 24 in Arizona. He was 78.

A 1959 Fresno State viticulture graduate, he also studied enology, horticulture and plant science before establishing a reputation as an innovator in Central California production agriculture.

Through his SunMet brand and Metzler Family Farms, he developed new production techniques for stone fruit, table and wine grapes, citrus, almonds and walnuts, and his “Z” label red wines were acclaimed for their quality.

Among his many developments in area farming included the introduction of mechanical pruning and harvesting equipment for grapes and granny apples to the area.

“Ron shared a passion for agriculture in so many ways with our students, staff and faculty for over 50 years,” said Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Interim Dean Sandra Witte. “He worked tirelessly on our viticulture and enology industry advisory board and viticulture and enology alumni board of directors. He also played an equally important role as a founding member and former president of our Ag One Foundation and many other area organizations.”

He received the Fresno State Department of Viticulture and Enology Outstanding Service Award in 2013 and was a Viticulture Alumnus of the Year honoree.

He also established an endowed scholarship for Fresno State horticulture students in the name of his parents Edna and Henry Metzler in 1986 – the same year that he served as the inaugural Ag One president.

Other notable grape and wine industry credentials included Central California Winegrape Growers Executive Director; California Association of Winegrape Growers founding member and board member; San Joaquin Valley Viticulture Technology Group Treasurer; and California Grape and Tree Fruit Agreement board member.

He was also highly regarded in Central Valley agriculture circles as a Sanger Farm Bureau President; State Young Farmer of the Year First Runner-up, and board member of the Fresno State Agriculture Foundation, International Apple Institute and California Tree Fruit Agreement.

A former Bulldog track and field athlete, he was a two-time shot put conference runner-up and lifetime supporter of Fresno State athletics. A former Bulldog Foundation president and trustee, he received the Bulldog Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. He was also selected as the Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame Director; Fresno City/County Football All-Star Game President; and National Society of Fund-Raising Executives Outstanding Philanthropist.

Born in Sanger, Metzler was first introduced to grapes on his family’s vineyard that is now more than 100 years old. He later attended Highland and Prairie Schools and Sanger High School.

He is survived by Diadre, his wife of 28 years; his sons Eric, Ryan and Michael and daughter Tracy, their spouses, seven grandchildren, and his brother Dennis. Eric, Cynthia and Ryan were Fresno State alumni, and Dennis is also a Fresno State supporter.

He was honored in August 2014 by the viticulture and enology department as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) earlier that year.

A celebration of his life will be held on March 12th at 2:00 p.m. at the Fresno State Department of Viticulture and Enology gazebo. Those attending are asked to wear red.

Remembrances may be made in Ron's memory to the Fresno State Foundation to support the H.P. and Edna Metzler Viticulture Assistantship in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, 2360 E. Barstow MS VR89, Fresno, CA 93740, to the ALS Association Arizona Chapter, 360 E Coronado Rd STE 140, Phoenix, AZ 85004 or to The Bulldog Foundation, Football Fund for Excellence, Fresno State, PO Box 26267, Fresno, CA 93729-6267.

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